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Another Look at TDs by CJ & Shonn Greene

Posted Aug 9, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee established the run with a 58-yard touchdown by Chris Johnson and a 19-yard scoring play from Shonn Greene in its preseason opener against Washington on Thursday.

The play by Johnson, in particular, has been viewed again and again on Titans Online and highlight shows, but how both plays happened are worth another look.

Johnson’s touchdown, which was the first play from scrimmage after a touchdown by Washington, resulted from a combination of a play call, proper execution up front and a move that few people in the world can make or defend during a one-on-one matchup with Johnson in space.

“We basically had the outside zone play stretch,” Johnson said. “They were running real hard on the outside, so I cut it back. When I got through the line, it was the safety, and I just gave him a move. My offensive line, they got a great push on it, and they pushed those guys to the right side and gave me a cutback lane.”

The Titans lined up with no player to the left of the left hash mark, and the offensive line pushed everyone to the right. Johnson started in the same direction, which gave him space to elude a diving swipe by Redskins LB Brian Orakpo.

Left guard Andy Levitre, who joined the Titans this offseason as a free agent, made a diving block on his assignment, and left tackle Michael Roos and tight end Craig Stevens, who lined up to Roos’ left, walled off their assignments.

Tennessee did not account for blocking Washington safety Bacarri Rambo because that’s the matchup they wanted to create for Johnson. The Titans were able to get every other Redskins defender going the opposite direction from Johnson’s cutback to the left.

Rambo was nearly 20 yards downfield when Johnson began the cutback, giving him time to try to come up and make the play. Johnson, however, had almost five yards of space between he and Rambo when the faceoff occurred and shook the rookie with a quick shuffle of his feet similar to what he did on a play during a rainy night at training camp.

“That’s Chris Johnson, one of the best backs in the league,” Rambo said. “Any other safety in the open field with him really doesn’t stand a chance either.”

At the same time Johnson commanded all eyes in the stadium, he was getting downfield blocks from Kenny Britt and Nate Washington, who made sure their men couldn’t get an angle to pursue Johnson.

Levitre didn’t see Johnson’s nifty move because he was still on the ground after making his block but explained the blockers’ role on the play and its design.

“I just went and dove and cut the guy and CJ cut the guy and CJ cut back right off either mine or Roos’ block and had a lot of open field for him to run. If we can get him to a one-on-one matchup with the safety, I think the odds are in our favor.”

Greene’s touchdown also resulted from a solid play call, favorable matchups and well-timed blocks to create a mammoth hole for the power back.

Tennessee again lined up completely to the right of the left hash mark and ran a counter play. The Titans pulled right guard Chance Warmack, the team’s first-round pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, around the back side of the offensive line. Warmack had one person to block on the outside and engulfed cornerback David Amerson.

“We had a counter play where I pulled and no one was out there but the corner,” Warmack said. “It just so happened by the grace of God that he was the only guy out there and the running back made it for the touchdown. I have whoever was out there. The corner was out there so I knew he was coming at my legs so I just played it how I was taught.”

Redskins linebacker Perry Riley got caught in traffic, leaving Titans fullback Quinn Johnson with a one-on-one against linebacker London Fletcher, and Quinn Johnson won that matchup with a thumping hit that allowed Greene to take an angle for the end zone that forced Rambo to run the greatest distance to reach him. Greene crossed the goal line before Rambo got there and got a shove from the safety that was flagged 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff.

“I just had to run,” Greene said. “The offensive line did a great job, the fullback, the wide receivers, so it was just well executed. They did a great job tonight. They worked hard in practice and it showed in the game.”

Greene said he is excited about the combination taking shape between he and Chris Johnson.

“He’s out of this world,” Greene said. “I’ve never seen a back like that. I’ve played with LaDainian Tomlinson, Thomas Jones. He’s just got that gift. I don’t think anybody is like him.”

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