TENNESSEE TITANS RUNNING BACK CHRIS JOHNSON
October 14, 2009
Q: How important is it to grind it out against the Patriots who are going to come out and look to establish their dominance in this game?
CJ: It's very important because we know there have been teams able to run the ball. Not get like real big gains on them, but been able to grind it out and get three or four yards. We know they know that, so they're definitely working in practice to try to stop the run and make their defense better. We have to work even harder to try and continue to get good gains on them.
Q: When you had that big game early on [16 rushes for 197 yards Week 2 vs. Houston], did that surprise you?
CJ: No, it didn't surprise me at all. I have great expectations. I expect myself to do things and make plays like that every game. I just feel if I get the ball in my hands, like every time, I can make big plays.
Q: What's it like being in a game like that? What's your mindset?
CJ: It's like any game if you have 100 or 150 yards and you're doing something good, the team is doing something good. Obviously the other team can't stop what the offense is doing, so of course, keep feeding me the ball.
Q: How have things changed since [Week 2 vs. Houston]? Have you seen defenses concentrate on you more?
CJ: Oh yeah, even going into that game, defenses concentrate on me by putting 8 or 9 men in the box, hoping we don't pass, double teaming me and all that. A lot of guys are focused and keying in on me right now, but I can't use that as an excuse. I just have to still make plays I can make.
Q: Does it feel like you guys are 0-5?
CJ: Of course it feels like we're 0-5 right now, but we'll get this team turned back around. We can't sit here and be like, 'We're 0-5. We're out of the playoffs – this and that.' We just have to keep playing hard and keep taking it one game at a time. It's like if we win this weekend, we're 1-5, so we can win five straight and be 5-5.
Q: How much does it matter to you to be mentioned among the top [running] backs in the league? Does it matter to you to be in that discussion?
CJ: Of course it matters. I feel like if you don't care about being in that discussion, then you're not going to be in there. I don't care what anybody says, it's always team first. But, everybody wants the individual accolades too, so of course it matters to be the best running back in the league. Of course I'd love to be in that category. I'd do anything to continue to be in that category.
Q: From last year to this year, what specifically have you tried to work on to be more of an elite back?
CJ: I just continue to work on the same things I worked on last year. I think the reason they were putting me among those names this year is more that it's not a sophomore slump. I'm still doing the same things I did last year. Basically, I'm just trying to stay consistent and have a good year and I'm going to have an even better year this year. Just to show that there's no sophomore slump, that I can still go out there and do the things I did last year even when teams are focused in on me to let them know that it wasn't a fluke.
Q: You went to a low-profile school and your team is 0-5. Do you feel like you are getting the recognition your play has deserved?
CJ: I'm not worried about that right now. I'm just worried about us trying to get a win. All the individual accolades and all the notice – that will come as long as I do what I have to do no matter what our record is. At the end of the day, if I continue to do what I have to do then it will come.
Q: When you were coming out of college, there was a lot of talk about your speed and obviously, you've shown some of that. Give us some particulars. How fast are you and what kind of stats do you have?
CJ: I ran a 4.24 40 [yard dash] at the combine, the fastest time ever ran electronically. I guess I'm the fastest guy in the NFL right now.
Q: Has anybody ever challenged you on that?
CJ: They do, but they be playing around. They're really not serious about the situation. I don't think anybody is serious or ever really put anything up that they could beat me or anything like that.
Q: From a conditioning standpoint, are you heavier at all this year than last year in order to take more of a pounding?
CJ: No, I'm around the same weight. I like the weight that I play at, so I'm around the same weight. I try to stay pretty much around the same weight.
Q: Is that 200 [lbs.]?
Q: Do you think coming up here and winning in Foxboro this weekend hinges on you having a good game? If you run the ball well do you guys think you can win?
CJ: Yeah if we're running the ball well, we'll stay on the field. Like in the past games, we were running the ball well, but we had to go to the passing game because we fell behind. When we had the opportunity to get seven, we were getting three instead. So that was making us fall behind. If we can get seven points and stay even, stay close or stay ahead in the game, we'll just continue to run the ball. If we can do that, we can win.
Q: If Vince Young were to play, would the offense change? When he comes in during practice, are the plays different?
CJ: No, the plays are the exact same. No matter which quarterback is in the game, the plays are the same
Q: Have you heard talk about when Vince [Young] is going to come in? Do fans and media talk to you about it?
CJ: No, I haven't heard anything like that. Right now, they say Kerry [Collins] is our quarterback and I haven't heard anything else as far as a quarterback change or anything like that. So, basically it's all up to Coach [Jeff] Fisher.
Q: In terms of your running style: Is there a running back you've long admired or watched and modeled your style after?
CJ: Not really. I'd say I'm a special guy like there's no one person I can sit there and say I really run like. I grew up watching Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and those guys. I liked those guys coming up, but I can't say there was one guy I really modeled my game around.