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Chris Johnson: Change of pace, or primary back?

In a July radio interview, a not-so-cryptic Mike Heimerdinger expressed his desire for Chris Johnson to carry the football 15-20 times a game. Like smaller runners such as Clinton Portis before him, in Dinger’s mind, CJ was the type of back who could withstand the punishment that comes with the territory of being a primary RB in the NFL.

Dinger wasn’t lying, folks. Through 10 games, Johnson has averaged over 17 carries per contest while carrying the bulk of the load in the Tennessee Titans’ running game.

Since playing the bongos in his 168-yard effort against the Chiefs, Johnson has failed to reach the century mark. His big plays have also disappeared, as evidenced by a 16-yard gain serving as his longest run since his aforementioned field day against KC.

For the sake of keeping him fresh, is it time to limit CJ’s carries?

On paper, Chris Johnson is supposed to serve as the dash with LenDale White playing the role of smash in the Titans’ Smash and Dash combo. Recently, the roles appear to have reversed, with Johnson doing more than his share of smashing into opposing defensive linemen as of late.

For the year, Johnson has already carried the football fifty-five more times than White (177-122). Since obliterating Kansas City’s matador run defense, White’s 42 rushing attempts pale in comparison to CJ’s 74 carries during the same, four-game timeframe:

Last four games 

CJ- 74 carries, 238 yards 3.2 yards per carry, 2 TD

LW-42 carries, 156 yards, 3.7 yards per carry, 3 TD


I can understand the Titans’ infatuation with giving CJ the football. In 2008, Dinger has been the equivalent of a kid in a candy store while drooling over the possibilities that accompany the frequent usage of an offensive weapon such as Chris Johnson.

However, the Titans run the risk of wearing out their rookie running back. With a hammer such as LenDale White in the backfield, the Titans should gradually ease the workload of their sensational freshman RB.  

In my opinion, it isn’t prudent to continue utilizing Johnson as the battering ram in the Titans’ rushing attack, especially considering the lack of space to run the football due to constantly facing 8-man defensive fronts.

What do you guys think? Should CJ be the change of pace, or primary back in the Titans’ ground attack?