Friday, July 25, 2014

Jets excited about using Chris Johnson in the flat


It’s no secret that Chris Johnson is a spectacular runner – more than 1,300 yards of rushing offense per year (with a 2,000-plus season, to boot) on average can tell you that.

But CJ2K in the flat, one-on-one with a linebacker? That’s a very different, but equally scary monster to face for any defense.

That’s what the New York Jets were working on in practice Thursday, moving the elusive back around the formation by lining him up on the outside as a receiver and through the use of motion in the backfield.

It was an exciting sight for both fans and players alike, not only because it was Johnson’s first real workout since joining the team, but because it also showed another dimension to an offensive that is working to up its passing game from a season ago.

"When you have a guy like that who can take that 2-yard flat route and take it 60 yards, it opens things up down the field,” wide receiver and teammate David Nelson said, via the Star Ledger. “[W]hen you see Chris Johnson in the flat, (linebackers) are going to have to be mindful of that, and they’re going to have to jump to that. So when (the linebackers) do that, it opens up a lot of spaces in other spots in the middle of the field.

“And if they don’t, then (Johnson) is going to take it to the house.”

Johnson’s acumen has always been on the ground, though his receiving numbers aren’t anything to scoff at. The seven-year pro has 272 receptions in his career for a little more than 2,000 yards. He also put up one of his better receiving years in 2013 with Tennessee, averaging more than eight yards a catch and tallying in four touchdowns.

Reliable hands and breakaway speed are no fun for any linebacker, a testament coach Rex Ryan echoed Thursday.

“If he (Johnson) motions out, the (defensive backs) know, like: ‘Oooh, wait a second, here’s a 4.2 (40-yard dash guy),’” Ryan said. “You’ll approach him differently than you do maybe most halfbacks.”

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