Chris Johnson looking to prove doubters wrong
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Chris Johnson feeds off the negativity.
After years of being a premier running back in the NFL, he is determined to prove he still is the same "CJ2K." Even after knee surgery.
"It's good to have a chip on your shoulder, to have things to motivate you," Johnson, who signed a two-year, $8-million free-agent deal with the Jets on Wednesday, said on a conference call. "I can turn a bad thing into a good thing if it gives me motivation.
"Once you rush for 2,000 yards, you set an expectation for yourself," Johnson added, referring to his career season in 2009, when he rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Now there are questions about his durability. And he knows it.
Johnson, who was released by the Titans after six seasons, underwent knee surgery in January. He chuckled when asked about reports of arthritis in his surgically repaired knee. "That's not accurate," he said, adding that he wouldn't have passed the Jets' physical if there were concerns.
Johnson, who rushed for a modest -- by his standards -- 1,077 yards in 2013, said he would have rushed for at least 1,200 yards if he had not torn his meniscus.
Members of the Jets' organization did question whether Johnson was the same guy. Clearly, however, the Jets' concerns didn't dissuade them from signing him to a deal that includes an additional $1 million in incentives.
According to ESPN, the Jets have the option to pick up Year 2 of the deal at $4 million in February 2015.
Johnson stressed that his right knee is healthy and that he's close to resuming football activities. He also said he has no concerns about his knee preventing him from being ready at the start of training camp.
But he knows the doubters are out there, just waiting to have their say.
"There's always going to be that person saying something negative," he said. " . . . I know there's a lot of people who believe in me, including the Jets."
Johnson, who was due to earn $8 million from the Titans in 2014, avoided talking about the end of his career in Tennessee.
"I feel like I've moved on and closed that chapter in my career," he said. Instead, the three-time Pro Bowler and 2009 All-Pro focused on his optimism for the upcoming season.
Johnson said he believes that the Jets, who haven't made the playoffs in three seasons, are a team on the rise, and highlighted their defense and the back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances after the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
"They know how to win over there," he said. "We know, as an organization, if we're able to put up some points, that will give us a great chance at winning. So I felt like I would be able to fit the mold and come over there and try to help the offense."
Although he expressed frustration about sharing reps in Tennessee, Johnson said he's eager to do whatever he can to help the Jets win.
"From talking to Rex [Ryan] and talking to Marty [Mornhinweg], they'll put everybody in the best position to help everybody win," said Johnson, who was told he'll compete with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. "And that's what really matters. That's what was important to me, going to a team that has a winning program and has a chance of being a contender."