Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 12/6/11
Here's a fresh and not exactly in-the-box thought on the Titans' running game. Chris Johnson's lengthy holdout that had the Titans hovering at the bottom of the NFL in running the football for more than half the season might actually work to his and Tennessee's advantage for the regular season's final few weeks. That's because Johnson looks to finally be rounding back into the form and the playing shape that has been missing since he signed his four-year, 53.5 million contract extension in September. In Sunday's 153-yard rushing effort during a 23-17 victory over Buffalo, Johnson looked fresher and showed more acceleration that at any point this season. The stop-and-go turns and quick cuts that had been his trademark over his first three years in the NFL were suddenly back and on full display, especially on a 48-yard touchdown run, one of his two scores on the day. So, could Johnson actually be benefiting now from having only 12 weeks of wear and tear on his body this season, as opposed to the 17 to 18 weeks of hits he would have absorbed had he reported to training camp and preseason on time? "That's what we're hoping," coach Mike Munchak said. "We're looking at it that way now, that it's an advantage for us coming down the stretch, that we become the best running football team the last eight weeks of the season and hopefully into the playoffs. That's how we have to spin it when you struggle early." The Titans are now ranked 28th overall running the football, a number that certainly isn't good, but one that is a marked improvement after they spent virtually all the season dead last up until the past two weeks. "I think everyone has been taking the blame, so everyone should take the credit. This is what we talked about the second half of the season, forgetting where we were ranked and what was going on and why it was happening," Munchak said, saying that both Johnson and the offensive line should share in the accolades. For his part, Johnson is hopeful that the trend -- three games over 100 yards in the past four -- will continue, because the Titans have won each time he has crossed the century mark this year. "It's real big because at the beginning of the season the passing game carried us, and now it's time for the running game to step it up," Johnson said. "Anytime you want to build a full team, and hopefully make it to the Super Bowl, you're going to have to have all the elements."
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