NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chris Johnson may or may not have beaten a cheetah in a race this offseason, but he had what it took to elude Redskins rookie safety Bacarri Rambo in the Titans preseason opening 22-21 loss at LP Field.
Johnson found a massive opening to the left side of the offensive line then cut up field. He did a quick scissor with his legs to shake Rambo and kept going for a 58-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7 with 6:42 left in the first quarter.
"We basically had the outside zone play," Johnson said. "They were running real hard on the outside, so I cut it back. When I got through the line, it was either the corner or the safety, and I just gave him a move. My offensive line, they got a great push on it, and they pushed those guys to the right side and gave me a cutback lane."
It was Johnson's second and final carry of the night. He finished with 60 yards on two touches before being replaced by Shonn Greene.
The Titans liked what they saw out of Greene, who signed with Tennessee early during free agency to add a "smash" element to Johnson's "dash" capabilities. Greene had 32 yards on five carries, including a 19-yard touchdown run to the left side of the line.
Fullback Quinn Johnson sealed the inside, and right guard Chance Warmack, the team's first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, pulled and sealed the outside defender. Rambo caught up with Greene after he crossed the goal line and gave him a late shove that drew a penalty. Greene added a 13-yard reception on a pass from Jake Locker to start the possession he capped with the TD. The scoring run came one play after the Greene and the Titans converted a fourth-and-1 one play.
"The run game looked good," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "I thought CJ had a nice run and made a guy miss for a big run. I think Shonn Greene came in and did a nice job also. He scored on a nice run. That was fun to watch. Just a little inconsistent on offense, had a drop, had a defensive penalty that really hurt us on a 15-yard play for them. Solid effort, but could be a little better. That's what the preseason's for."
Other items of note:
— Locker played all but the final 26 seconds of the first half and finished 7-for-11 (64 percent) for 58 yards and a passer rating of 77.1. Locker scrambled once for a gain of four and took two sacks (one by Ryan Kerrigan to force a punt on Tennessee's first series and one by Brian Orakpo).
Despite the sacks, Locker appeared comfortable and took what was available from the defense. He converted third-and-2 with an 11-yard pass to Nate Washington, a third-and-6 with another pass to Washington and appeared to have another conversion on third-and-3 lined up, but Kendall Wright dropped the ball as he was turning up field.
"We started off on our first drive a little slow, but I thought we had three really good drives after that," Locker said. "We moved the ball well, we overcame some tough down-and-distances and converted on some big third downs. That was our goal, just to come out and build some momentum, have some drives and put 14 points on the board. I thought our run game looked really good. Like I said, we were able to convert in clutch situations, on third down and in our passing game. It was really good for our first time out, I felt, and things that we can build on."
—Receiver and kick returner Marc Mariani received quite an ovation in his first game since suffering a broken leg last preseason. Mariani had an eight-yard return of a punt and had another of 35 yards that was negated by a holding penalty. He added a 32-yard kickoff return.
—The first-team defense did pretty well against the run, limiting Washington to 29 yards on its first nine carries. Free agent addition Ropati Pitoitua recorded the first tackle of preseason.
"I thought we did a decent job," Derrick Morgan said. "We just need to settle down a little bit earlier and execute our assignments a little better. We gave up a long drive to start, and we just have to do a better job of settling down and executing."
—Rookie Lavar Edwards recorded a sack.
—Quinn Johnson was rewarded for the block that sprung Greene with a nine-yard TD reception on pass from Rusty Smith in the fourth quarter.
—Kirk Cousins started for Washington at quarterback in place of Robert Griffin III, a teammate of Kendall Wright at Baylor, who is recovering from an ACL injury.
Cousins connected with Fred Davis for a three-yard TD pass on his second and final possession. Cousins finished 6-for-7 for 52 yards before yielding to Rex Grossman for the night. Cousins was particularly effective on two play-action passes where he faked a handoff to draw defenders up and create larger throwing windows.
—The Redskins took the lead on a nine-yard scramble by reserve QB Pat White and a conversion pass from White to Emmanuel Ogbuehi in the fourth quarter.