Skip to main content

Notebook: Munchak Wants More Passes to Chris Johnson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Titans coach Mike Munchak said Tuesday that Tennessee's offense in 2013 needs to go back to Chris Johnson on passing routes out of the backfield.

The short pass plays Munchak has in mind are not intended to exclude the running game, but instead capitalize on short throws with a high completion rate that will increase rhythm and help Tennessee's offense move the chains.

"I've been talking about his rookie year — his first couple of years — he had some big numbers for us out of the backfield," Munchak said. "We need to get back to that and the fact he is a weapon, not just when you're handing him the ball but when you're throwing him the ball probably as much. We have to get back to that phase of the offense."


Johnson had 43 catches for 260 yards and 251 rushes for 1,228 yards as a rookie and followed with 50 catches for 503 yards (a career high 10.1 yards per catch) in 2009 when he also rushed for 2,006 yards on 358 carries. After 44 and 57 catches the next two seasons, Johnson had 36 receptions in 2012. Munchak believes the Titans can increase that and also find some yardage with short passes to tight ends in 2013.

"He's a big part of that, the tight ends are another big part of that on those five-yard passes and turning them into — doing what Frank Wycheck made so popular with a four-yard pass to a 15-yard gain by making that first guy miss," Munchak said. "That's a big weapon that I feel that we really haven't used the last couple of years as much as we needed to and get some easy completions, easy yards that we really haven't gotten that other teams have gotten on us, so I think that's a phase that we need to get much better."

Johnson said the first couple of weeks of organized team activity practices "started off fast" despite changes across the offense and defense.

"You can just tell everyone out here has been working hard and trying to take their game to the next level," Johnson said.

The sixth-year pro said last year's league-wide change in the structure of offseason programs has allowed for beneficial aspects.

"I feel like a lot of guys are spending more time here," Johnson said. "When you can come here and get the type of work you can get with your other teammates and get to work with the quarterback and your offensive linemen it's something that would be stupid not to come here and get."

OTA "MIDTERM" ASSESSMENT: As Tennessee reached the midpoint of 10 OTAs, Munchak said he thinks it's been important not only for coaches but for players to see skills of new players brought in through free agency and the draft and demonstrate work ethic that pushes everyone.

"I can see the players, the way they're practicing out here even in an OTA, the energy on both sides of the ball and the special teams," Munchak said. "The players see it too. You start seeing how good some of these guys are, and that's important for the players to see this time of year."

Veteran safety George Wilson said he's observing an "extremely high level of accountability" and an offseason environment that is different from any he's seen.

"You see young guys that are eager to learn something," Wilson said. "Sometimes you get young guys that are so tuned in to what they're supposed to do individually that they don't get the overall concept of your side of the ball and that's whether you're a defensive guy or an offensive guy. So I see that in our young guys here they're eager to get out there, eager to get that opportunity and with the veterans, there's a lot of veteran experience in this locker room."

EXERCISING PATIENCE: As much as Munchak wants to see free agent addition Andy Levitre (knee) and Michael Roos (sore back) on the left side of the offensive line and other players that the Titans have chosen to give days of rest during OTAs because of soreness, he said he'd rather keep everyone as healthy as possible for training camp at the end of July and even more in December.

"In this league, it's all about who's suiting up in December," Munchak said. "A lot of that makes the difference, so you can't control all that but you can be smart at this time of year."

Two of the players the Titans missed last December were right tackle David Stewart, who suffered a broken leg on Dec. 2, and middle linebacker Colin McCarthy, who was diagnosed with a concussion after the Nov. 25 game at Jacksonville that forced him to miss the final month of 2012.

Stewart participated in some individual drills Tuesday and "looked really good and really quick," Munchak said. McCarthy is "adapting well" to the new changes on defense and has bounced back nicely, the coach said.

"I think he's happy to be out here, especially a lot of the guys that finished the season hurt, and we had a long list of those guys, it's all about getting your confidence back and healthy.

"This time of year is important to guys for a lot of reasons, and guys that are coming off injuries — I remember when I was one of them as a player — it's important for those guys to come off knowing they are better and do feel good and can pretty much do whatever they want to do now," Munchak said. "I think he's kind of in that category where he feels good again, all that's behind him and I think he likes what we're doing on defense. We've got some good weapons around him that can help him. The defensive guys are excited."

McCarthy said the OTAs have given him an opportunity to return to action and increase his comfort level with teammates.

"The more we work together out on the field during OTAs the more comfortable we are and the more familiar we are with what they want to have done, the biggest thing is playing fast," McCarthy said. "When everyone is on the same page and we're able to play fast and limit the mistakes it makes a big difference."

Related Content

Fan Zone

Titans + Nissan Stadium App presented by Verizon

Titans + Nissan Stadium App presented by Verizon

Stay up to date with team and stadium news, concert and event announcements, stream live Titans games and more!

Tennessee Titans Marketplace

Tennessee Titans Marketplace

A one-stop shop for Titans memorabilia, autographed items and more!

Tennessee Titans Email Newsletter

Tennessee Titans Email Newsletter

Get Titans news sent straight to your inbox.