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SportsFootballJets

Chris Johnson looks fresh as Jets emphasize run

Jets running back Chris Johnson (21) celebrate his

Jets running back Chris Johnson (21) celebrate his first TD as a Jet during the first half of a game against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In his first game as a Jet, Chris Johnson topped the 8,000-yard rushing mark. But as exciting as it might have been for the Jets to sign the sixth player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons, he also comes with a warning label about the diminished tread on his tires.

From the moment the Jets signed Johnson in April, the plan always was to use him as part of a rotation with running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell because of concerns that Johnson no longer can be the workhorse who averaged 18.6 carries per game for Tennessee, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Friday.

Describing the rotation as a way to get the most of what Johnson has left, Mornhinweg said, "It certainly could work if we do it the right way. [That] has been my thought for quite some time . . . I think highly of Chris. There's no question he still has it. I think he'll have it several more years. He's a fantastic player."

Two games into the new season, the Jets lead the NFL in rushing with 179.0 yards per game. It makes sense for them to emphasize the run Monday night against a Chicago defense ranked 27th in rushing defense (161.0) as a means of controlling the ball and keeping Bears quarterback Jay Cutler off the field.

But coach Rex Ryan suggested the Bears will put eight men in the box, as Green Bay did in holding the Jets to 146 rushing yards this past Sunday. More importantly, the Packers limited Johnson to 21 yards on 12 carries after he had 68 yards on 13 carries in the opening win over the Raiders.

"All defenses are going to crowd the box," Johnson said Friday. "We ran a couple of plays [at Green Bay] trying to get on the perimeter. We weren't too successful, but it's a work in progress."

If the Jets create running room for Johnson, he still has major-league speed. He expressed no problem sharing carries, but he still is adapting to Mornhinweg's West Coast offense after six seasons in a traditional pro set lining up behind the quarterback.

"Here, most of the offense is from the shotgun," Johnson said. "It's different because you're four or five yards away from the line when you get the ball. In a regular offense, you're seven or eight yards back. You have to adjust."

Notes & quotes: Dee Milliner (ankle, quadriceps) and Eric Decker (hamstring) did not practice . . . The NFL fined Muhammad Wilkerson $20,000 for an unnecessary- roughness penalty and Sheldon Richardson $8,268 for a facemask penalty.

New York Sports