Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Patriots wary of Johnson's impact in Titans' offense


In his first regular-season conference call as the New England Patriots' defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia said he didn't want to single out anyone as the focal point of the Tennessee Titans' offense.

Patricia's head coach, however, seemed a little more willing to do so as he looks ahead at the teams' Week 1 AFC battle.

"...everybody is at the point of attack and all 11 guys have to be ready to defend (running back Chris Johnson) when he's got the ball because he's capable of getting anywhere," Bill Belichick told the media Tuesday. "Even if we're there, we still have to tackle him. Not only is he a fast back, but he's elusive and shifty with good vision; big-time home run threat every time he touches the ball."

Johnson, the Titans' most dangerous player the past four years, totaled 34 rushing touchdowns and four more scores through the air over his first three seasons but found the end zone just four times in 2011, though he did record his fourth straight 1,000-yard-plus season on the ground.

"His production speaks for itself," Belichick said. "He's really an outstanding player with the ball in his hands – in the passing game, in the running game, inside runs, outside runs, draws, screens. Everybody is at the point of attack because he has the speed to start one way and go the other to get back to the cutback backside of the defense or bounce out in either direction."

With second-year quarterback Jake Locker entering the season as the starter and an experienced offensive line, Tennessee will likely once again base its offense the star tailback.

That means New England's defense, which ranked 31st in the league last season, will get a heavy dose of Johnson Sunday.

"Whenever he gets the ball anywhere on the field, he's just one play away from the end zone," Belichick said.

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