Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs against the...

Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs against the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Sept. 19, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Last week the Giants geared up for the best quarterback in the NFL and wound up vulnerable to the run. This week they're preparing for the best running back in the NFL. Can they be flip-flopped into looking foolish once again?

"Peyton, his head spun around and they ran the ball," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "I don't know if Chris Johnson will throw the football."

He probably won't. But Vince Young can, and the Giants have to make sure they are not too predictable, too one-sided in their approach to Sunday's game against the Titans.

They tipped their intentions to Peyton Manning with their inactive list - they played only two defensive tackles - and stayed too long in nickel and dime coverages that were vulnerable to the run. The overcompensation cost them the game.

Now the temptation might be to tilt too much the other way against a team that, since 2006, has run the ball more than anyone else in the league. Will they load up the box and make sure Johnson has nowhere to go, letting an undermanned pass defense fend for itself?

"You have to stop the run," Fewell said, but he added that this week's game plan won't be as lopsided as the one for the Colts. "We can defend the pass. How we're going to approach these guys, we can defend both the run and the pass."

Johnson presents one-of-a-kind challenges. He is coming off a season in which he ran for 2,006 yards and has 17 100-yard rushing games in two-plus years in the league. He has game-changing speed on the outside with the physicality to turn the ball up the middle.

Does he remind Tom Coughlin of anyone? "Chris Johnson," Coughlin deadpanned, describing him as incomparable in not so many words. "He is unique, let's put it that way."

Mathias Kiwanuka said he has never played against anyone with Johnson's skills. "He is one of the most explosive in the league since I've been here," he said.

And former teammate Keith Bulluck, now a Giants linebacker, isn't sharing any state secrets when he talks about having to at least keep Johnson under control.

"In this league, if you can't stop the run, you're not going to have a very successful season," Bulluck said. "This is a true test for this defense. We'll find out a lot about ourselves Sunday."

Don't think the Titans are looking at what Joseph Addai and the Colts did in Indy and thinking that the Giants will be throwing the same looks at them. Jeff Fisher said he's basically disregarding that game and focusing on how the Giants were able to contain the run against the Panthers in the opener.

Although the Titans might not care what the Giants did in their loss to the Colts, the Giants certainly have paid attention to how the Steelers beat the Titans. They held Johnson to 34 yards on 16 carries, and the 2.1-yard average was the second-lowest of his career.

"That was one of the most physical football games I've seen this year," Fewell said. "Pittsburgh had a great mentality. They were not going to be denied. It was a bloodbath on both sides of the football. So the mentality that we have to take into the game is no matter what, you have to have that physical mentality and not be denied.

"We can win like that if we go into this game with that mentality."

Notes & quotes: LB Chase Blackburn practiced for the first time since spraining his MCL in Week 1 for the second time in a month. He did not rule out playing Sunday, although a return next week seems much more likely . . . Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said the Giants consider backup lineman Shawn Andrews a tackle for now, mostly because of the injury to Will Beatty (foot) . . . After missing Wednesday's practice with an illness, WR Mario Manningham practiced fully Thursday.

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