Chris Johnson didn’t rip his former team Thursday. Yet he made it clear he believes Tennessee shouldn’t have released him earlier this month.
“It’s always great to have things to put a chip on your shoulder, have things to motivate you,” the newest Jet said Thursday on a conference call. “I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me … and prove the naysayers wrong.”
Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009, the second of his six seasons with the Titans. But last season, he averaged a career-low 3.9 yards per carry. He had only five carries of 20 yards or more — the lowest total of his career in that category. Johnson signed a two-year contract with the Jets on Wednesday.
“I really don’t want to go back and talk about some of the situations that happened or criticize the Tennessee organization,” said Johnson, who was dumped by the Titans because he refused to take a pay cut. “I feel like I’ve moved on and closed that chapter in my career.”
He believes his subpar 2013 season was caused, in part, by a torn knee meniscus he suffered in a Week 3 victory over San Diego. Johnson said he believes he would have rushed for over 1,200 yards last season had it not been for that injury. He had surgery to fix it in January and said he has “no concern” that he might not be ready for training camp, which begins in late July.
The knee is “getting better and better” every day, said Johnson, who denied an ESPN report that the knee is arthritic.
If he is indeed healthy, Johnson should be a good complement to the bruising Chris Ivory and the versatile Bilal Powell in the Jets’ backfield. However, he likely will have to get used to not being featured as much in the offense as he was in Tennessee. He averaged 290 carries per season with the Titans, including 279 last year.
Johnson indicated he won’t have a problem with a reduced workload, citing his conversations with coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
“It’s just a situation from talking to Rex and talking to Marty that they’ll put everybody in the best position to help the Jets win,” he said. “That’s what really mattered at the end of the day to me: going to team that (has) a winning program and has a chance of being a contender.”