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Camp Notebook: Receivers Focusing on Blocks to Spring Chris Johnson

Posted Aug 13, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chris Johnson has spent a considerable amount of time on the move he used to shake Redskins safety Bacarri Rambo, but hasn’t named it.

Titans receivers have emphasized executing blocks downfield when Jake Locker hands off to Chris Johnson this offseason.
Click here for a slideshow of Tuesday's practice.

“It’s just a move that I’ve really been working on my whole career,” said Johnson, who said the goal of the play is to get the safety lined up a certain way and quickly change directions.

The Titans’ offensive line moved Redskins defenders to the right and he found considerable space at the left edge of the line. Rambo was the last line of defense. Johnson eluded him and streaked toward the goal line for a 58-yard score.

“Any time you’ve got room you can be decisive and just hit the hole,” Johnson said. “The big thing you can tell is the offensive line is pushing and giving me places to run.”

The rebuilt offensive line had a solid opener, and Johnson and Shonn Greene also benefitted from blocks thrown by receivers. On Johnson’s run, Kenny Britt and Nate Washington executed blocks on the back side of the play and then raced Johnson to the goal line.

“I didn’t know it was him at first,” Johnson said. “I thought it was somebody on the other team and when I looked I saw it was 18 (Britt). In the year I went for 2,000 yards, Kenny was always that guy running down the field for me, so that’s something that feels good.”

The experience jogged Britt’s memory as well.

“Everybody’s feeling like they’re getting their legs back,” Britt said. “I know CJ is feeling like the end of ’09 in that 2K (year), and if we just get back to the basics of making sure we get our blocks downfield, we know CJ will hit the hole and we’re there to block for him, so it’s an escort like the Air Force.”

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains cited Damian Williams for making a “touchdown block” on Greene’s 19-yard TD.

“I’m very pleased with (the way receivers blocked),” Loggains said. “I thought they did a really good job of that. I thought each group, every guy, did.”

The Titans saw the good of what can happen when receivers execute blocks downfield and a bad possible side effect against the Redskins when Marc Mariani injured his shoulder during a block, but receivers coach Shawn Jefferson said the group will continue to place an emphasis on blocking run plays and pass plays when another teammate has made the reception.

“That’s what football is all about so we’re going to do it and I’m going to hold true to those values,” Jefferson said. “We have a running back, that if one guy misses, he’s going 80 yards so we’ve got to make sure we get it into those guys that we have a home run hitter.”

Johnson has an NFL-record six touchdown runs of at least 80 yards, including three last season, so Williams and Michael Preston said the group has received that point.

“We’re fortunate to be one of those teams with a very explosive and elusive back,” Williams said. “He has breakaway speed but it makes it that much easier for him if we’re downfield and kind of leading the way.”

Preston said he’s placed an emphasis on blocking since he was “playing little league.”

“We always had good backs and here, we’ve got a special back, so it’s our focus in the whole room to make the best effort to block for him and make that extra block to spring him off the back or for the touchdown,” Preston said.

ANIMATED PERFORMANCE: Johnson’s voice and animated “likeness” were featured this past Sunday in an episode of NFL Rush Zone: Season of the Guardians on Nickelodeon’s Nicktoons Network, and Johnson found time to catch the episode with his twin children.

“I did it a couple months back and I never saw the video,” Johnson said. “I just did the voice and stuff, so when I actually saw it, I watched it with my twins, and it was pretty cool.”

When asked what he thought about the depiction of his likeness, Johnson said it was “missing a couple of features, but it was pretty good.”

BREAK IT UP: Munchak opted to send the entire team to the movie theater Monday night to see 2 Guns with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg to break up the long gap between the Washington and Cincinnati games.

“We just thought it was a different thing we could do to try and change up our routine,” Munchak said. “You can’t make everybody happy, but I think they’d much rather be in a dark theater where they could actually close their eyes and sleep if they wanted to.”

Many players are still catching up on rest to account for the rigors of training camp and were supposed to attend meetings. Munchak also surprised players by sending them to the movie on the final scheduled day of organized team activity practices in June.

DAY OF REST: The Titans opted to rest receivers Kendall Wright (soreness) and Britt Tuesday before the players have a scheduled day off Wednesday. Munchak said it’s likely that Britt will return to practice Thursday and play Saturday.

RT David Stewart and C/G Brian Schwenke participated in Tuesday’s morning session but rested for the afternoon practice. Munchak said DT Sammie Hill is likely to practice Thursday and play Saturday, LB Greg Jones “has a shot,” S Daimion Stafford is “very questionable” and it will depend on how sore TE Taylor Thompson is. Munchak said FB Quinn Johnson is unlikely to play, and S Markelle Martin, LBs Colin McCarthy and Zaviar Gooden, and Mariani will not play.

PRACTICE CLOSES: The Titans held their final of 12 camp practices that were free and open to the public Tuesday, and although he wasn’t on the autograph schedule, safety Michael Griffin surprised multiple fans by giving out cleats that he signed.

The 12 practices were well attended by fans, especially the extra night sessions that fit into the schedule this year because the team played its first preseason game on a Thursday instead of a Saturday. Every player signed at least one day, often even an hour after practice, and often opted to do so on additional days.

Crowds were excited about the return of football and curious to see all the new additions the Titans made this offseason.  

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