On Now
Coming Up
  • Sat., Jun. 20, 2015 12:00 PM CDT Kenny Chesney/Jason Aldean concert Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney have announced that their tours, The Burn It Down Tour and The Big Revival Tour presented by Corona Light, will collide for 10 stadium shows next summer, including Lambeau Field on Saturday, June 20, 2015.  More on-sale information and special guests will be revealed over the coming weeks.
  • Mon., Jul. 13, 2015 7:00 AM CDT Packers Hall of Fame Inc. Golf Classic

    The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc. Golf Classic is set for Monday, July 13, 2015, at The Bull in Sheboygan Falls, WI. Those interested in participating in the event can contact Holly Borga (920-965-6986; hollyb@packershalloffame.com) for more information.

  • Sat., Jul. 18, 2015 7:00 PM CDT Brett Favre's Packers HOF Induction Banquet

    The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc. will induct former Packers quarterback Brett Favre at the 45th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Banquet. The event will also feature the retirement of Favre’s No. 4. This dual recognition is an honor that is unprecedented in Green Bay Packers history. The banquet will be held on Saturday, July 18, 2015, in the Lambeau Field Atrium.



Chris Johnson will present breakaway threat on Sunday

Posted Dec 20, 2012

Tennessee Titans' former 2,000-yard rusher has three TD runs of 80-plus this season

GREEN BAY—Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson isn’t the 2,000-yard rusher of a few years back, but rest assured he has the Packers’ attention.

“Did you see the ‘Monday Night Football’ game?” Mike McCarthy said this week. “He looks like he can still run to me.”

McCarthy was referring to Johnson’s 94-yard scamper for a touchdown that helped the Titans beat the Jets just a few days ago. It’s the longest run in the NFL this season.

That makes three TD runs of 80 yards or more for Johnson this season, and it’s that big-play capability that has the Packers on guard as the player many refer to as the fastest in the NFL makes his Lambeau Field regular-season debut on Sunday.

“He can do anything. He can hit the A gap and take it 90 yards, or he can hit the sideline and take it up,” defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. “It’s going to be tough.”

Johnson was at his best at midseason this year, averaging 142.5 yards per game and an eye-popping 7.2 per carry over a four-game stretch from Weeks 7-10. That’s when he had his other two 80-plus-yard TDs.

Since then, he hadn’t gone over 100 yards in a game until this past Monday, when he had his 94-yarder, though he had just 28 yards on his other 20 carries.

The Packers have faced Johnson only once, during his rookie season of 2008 (pictured). He had 89 yards rushing with a TD and added 72 yards receiving in a 19-16 Tennessee overtime win.

But that was so long ago, it was before Johnson became a household name and before Dom Capers took over the Packers defense. Much more relevant is how the Packers are defending the run lately, and the key has been the unit’s adjustments.

Two weeks ago against Detroit, the Lions rushed 15 times for 85 yards on their opening two drives, which led to touchdowns, but the Packers tightened up and held them to just 50 yards on 17 carries after that.

Similarly, last week in Chicago, the Bears ran seven times for 40 yards on their opening drive but managed just 43 yards on 16 rushes thereafter.

“Teams tend to game plan, scheme us a lot, but our adaptability is second to none,” said inside linebacker Brad Jones, who is becoming a main cog against the run and has earned significant praise from McCarthy lately.

“We see what’s coming, we reload on the sideline, and I think nobody misses a beat. ‘We know what’s going on, we’ve got it, let’s go,’ and we can shut teams down.”

It helped the run defense to get Clay Matthews back last week. Matthews gets more attention for his pass rushing ability, but his teammates marvel just as much at his plays in the run game.

Last week, Matthews twice tackled Chicago’s Matt Forte in the backfield for losses, and he had disruptive penetration on other occasions, too.

“We’re a different run defense when he’s out there,” defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said of Matthews. “He sets the edges, he uses his quickness to make plays in the backfield. I think he’s unbelievable as a run player.”

Come playoff time, the Packers might also get back defensive end C.J. Wilson, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury.

Wilson was hoping he’d return in time for this week’s game, because Johnson is a former college teammate of his from East Carolina. The pair played two seasons together (2006-07) before entering the NFL two years apart.

“It’s been my dream to go hit this guy,” Wilson said playfully, with a big smile on his face. “We couldn’t hit him in practice (in college) because he wore the red jersey. You don’t want to hit your star player, but now that he’s on the opposing team, I’d like to take my shot at him.”

Big shots on speedy backs like Johnson can be hard to come by, so the Packers just need to contain the home-run hitter. Three weeks ago, the Packers allowed three long runs, including an 82-yard TD, to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson as he racked up 210 yards on the day.

Johnson isn’t going for 2,000 yards again like Peterson is this year, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous.

“A lot of times you play backs where you can make mistakes and you can recover,” Pickett said. “But him, like Adrian Peterson, they’re backs that if you make a mistake, they make you pay for it.”

Additional coverage - Dec. 20

blog comments powered by Disqus

You May Also Be Interested in...

Recent Videos

  • Signature Snaps: Top 5 Running Plays

    (2:59) Posted 15 hours ago

    Packers.com has compiled a series of "Signature Snaps," various Top 5 lists of big plays from the 2014 season. In this week's installment, we focus on the top five running plays from the season in chronological order.

  • McCarthy: 2015 team will not bear burden of 2014

    (30:49) Posted Jan 28, 2015

    Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy held his season-ending press conference Wednesday. McCarthy recapped the 2014 season and talked about the team's goals for 2015.

  • Video Ask Vic: My Favorite Game

    (2:04) Posted Jan 27, 2015

    In this 'Video Ask Vic,' packers.com editor Vic Ketchman looks back on his favorite moments of the Packers' 2014 season.