Chris Johnson may be looking mighty spry at Jets training camp, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be the one pounding in touchdowns for Gang Green when the team is close to paydirt. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn said he hasn’t determined who the Jets’ short-yardage back will be, though it sounds like Chris Ivory is the early favorite.
“If we were playing tomorrow, Chris Ivory would be on the goal line, obviously,” Lynn said on Monday. “Sometimes in those situations you have an extra defender that you can’t block, and you need a back that can take him on.”
After battling through injuries, Ivory looked good at times last year coming over from the Saints in a trade. Now it looks like he'll be stealing short TDs away from Chris Johnson. Ivory led all Jets RBs last year with six attempts inside the 5-yard line so he's familiar with the role.
Chris Ivory returned, after never really leaving. Ivory practiced Thursday when the Jets began training camp. He just did not take part in team periods because he is nursing a tender hamstring, and he dealt with nagging hamstring issues last year. But Ivory was in the mix in team periods Friday.
At least for Day 1, RB Chris Johnson showed encouraging signs for the Jets’ offense, particularly in the varied ways they can use him. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg motioned Johnson from the backfield and split him out wide – just as Johnson did with the Titans, his only previous employer. Johnson, whom the Jets signed this offseason, is a receiving threat, with 272 catches for 2,003 yards during his six-year career.
“He looks great,” Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters. “You see that speed that he has. If he lost a step, I don’t know, you guys tell me.”
“I was looking forward to seeing exactly where he was at,” RB coach Anthony Lynn said. “I think he’s right on track in his recovery. I thought he had a hell of a practice. I’m sure he could’ve done those (cuts) today, but I didn’t want to see that today.”
Chris Ivory missed practice with a hamstring injury. Johnson figures to see the lion's share of the carries and could post RB2-type numbers with a healthy workload. He's not going to get the carries he saw in Tennessee, but he could still be a productive fantasy back in the Jets "ground and pound" offense. He has finished in the top 16 in each of his six seasons in the NFL.
Jets running back Chris Ivory tweaked his hamstring while working out on his own between last month’s minicamp and training camp, according to his position coach, and that’s why he was limited Thursday when training camp began.
Last year during training camp, and then again early in the season, Ivory was significantly limited by hamstring pain.
As the article states, this has been an ongoing issue for Ivory, and it's one reason that we predict Chris Johnson to get the lion's share of the carries this season. Ivory will have a role, but he'll have to stay healthy to get a significant amount of work.
Rex Ryan said Chris Johnson was "flying" during conditioning run.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 8:45pm
The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt on Titans RB Bishop Sankey: "Don't expect (Chris Johnson) in his heyday. Sankey will be the team's most productive running back, but others will cut into his stats. Dexter McCluster will get playing time, carries and catches. Shonn Greene should get a bunch of goal-line attempts unless he flames out in training camp; then Sankey's stock could really rise."
We’re projecting Sankey to be the clear RB1 in Tennessee after the Titans took him as the first back in the draft. He’s a versatile back who doesn’t have much competition for touches. The last 13 rookies who were the top drafted RB in their class and joined a backfield with a lackluster incumbent averaged 18.2 touches for 83.1 yards and 0.55 TD, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. That’s about what Ryan Mathews averaged as the #12 RB in 2013.
Monday, July 14, 2014, 9:40am
Jets RB Chris Johnson's surgically repaired knee, which sidelined him for the spring, will be a hot topic throughout camp. The last thing the Jets will want to do is tax Johnson, so look for a modified practice schedule -- a "pitch count," as Rex Ryan likes to call it.
Chances are the Jets will take a backfield-by-committee approach, which underscores the importance of defining roles. It will be a balancing act for the coaches as they attempt to navigate four weeks of camp and three preseason games. (We're not counting the last game, which is useless.) There aren't as many practice reps as the not-so-old days, when teams had two practices per day. Every rep counts.
We had a recent news item where Johnson said he's not going to be part of a committee, so it will be interesting to see how roles emerge out of camp. Johnson is probably the favorite to land the starting spot, but Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell both ran pretty well at times last year so they figure to be in the mix. The story also points to former Ram Daryl Richardson as someone to keep an eye on.
Friday, July 4, 2014, 4:16pm
Anticipating his release, the Jets did a lot of tape study on RB Chris Johnson. What they saw was a still-gifted back who was restricted by a bum knee and a mediocre offensive line in Tennessee. Doctors took care of the knee, repairing a torn meniscus with an arthroscopic procedure in January. Now it'll be up to the Jets' line to take care of the blocking.
Johnson figures to be the Jets’ RB1, though Chris Ivory will serve in a change-of-pace capacity. As long as he sees the bulk of the touches in the Jets’ run-heavy offense, Johnson should post fantasy RB2 numbers. He'll turn 29 in September, so he should still have some tread on his tires.
"Once the season starts and once we're playing and I'm doing my thing, I'm pretty sure if I'm making plays they're going to want to keep handing the ball off to me," Johnson said. "If they want me to continue making plays, I'm pretty sure I can't do that if I'm on the sideline."
Johnson's comments come one week after running backs coach Anthony Lynn said the Jets needed to be "strategic" in how they use Johnson, who enters his seventh season with 1,742 career carries.
Johnson is ranked 24th among our backs, but we think he'll put up RB2 numbers in the Jets run-heavy offense. He'll have to deal with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, who both proved to be capable runners at times last year, but when all is said and done he should be the Jets RB1. He has potential to be a useful fantasy RB for his ADP of the middle sixth round.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:24am
“Right now, I’m just trying to pick up the plays,” Sankey said. “Getting used to the system at Tennessee and just learning and maturing each day as a player.”
Key quote from Browns HC Mike Pettine: "I think in the AFC North, you have to be running back by committee. You'd like to have a guy that can carry most of the load, but also be able to alternate guys ... you've got to be able to get fresh legs out there."
Tate wants to be a feature back and he'll have his chance in Cleveland, provided he can hold off West. Tate has averaged 4.7 YPC in his career and has touched the ball at least 15 times in 13 career games, averaging 94.5 yards and 0.54 TD in the process. That equates to 12.7 fantasy points, which is about what Chris Johnson averaged as the #9 RB in 2013. Touchdowns are going to be tougher to come by in Cleveland than they were in Houston, the rookie is nipping at his heels. Keep in mind that in addition to missing the entire 2010 season due to a broken ankle, he has missed eight other games in his career. Durability is a big concern.
“He’s got some miles on him,” RB coach Anthony Lynn said, via NJ.com. “So we’re going to have to be strategic in how we use him, and when we use him, to keep him fresh so that he can be the explosive guy that I know that he can be.”
That runs a bit counter to Lynn’s previous comments that Johnson “can have as many yards as he wants” this season, but even that proclamation came with the caveat that Johnson would be splitting time and would have to earn more time than the other backs by showing that he was clearly the best option for the running game. Even that might not happen if the Jets feel limited doses of playing time leaves Johnson likelier to rip off big runs when he does get on the field.
There's something Jets QB Geno Smith began doing in December that really helped him as a passer: He started running the ball. In those final four games, Smith racked up 186 of the 366 rushing yards he would compile during a season in which he started all 16 games, and he ran it 10 times in both of the season's final two games, both of which were Jets victories.
"Last year at this time, it was 24/7 coaching footwork, where his eyes are, what his progression is, who his initial read is, all of the different looks he could see," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "This year, we call a play, and—boom, he’s sprinting in and he’s got it. Quite different than last year."
Figuring out how and when to tuck it in and run—especially for a quarterback who was every bit a traditional pocket passer in college at West Virginia—was something of a eureka moment for Smith, at least according to Jets quarterbacks coach David Lee.
"In early December it started happening and [we] started seeing it in practice, him really finishing plays and starting to know where people are and really getting it when we told him we wanted to him run with the football," Lee said. "The taking off and running part just really took hold of him and started to mesh in his brain about December and he started hurting people running the football in the last month of the season. So, I think that made him more of a threat."
Smith finished as the #20 QB in his rookie season, but his per game production (12.5 PPG) left something to be desired. He showed a better-than-expected ability to run around the goal line, resulting in six rushing TDs. Mornhinweg mentioned Smith's play in the final four games of the season. He did average 20.0 fantasy points during that span, compared with just 10.0 FP in the first 12 games. He ran for three TDs down the stretch while throwing for just 198 yards and 1.0 TD. From a fantasy perspective, it would probably be better if the experienced Michael Vick were under center, but it certainly sounds like it's Smith's job to lose. The arrival of Eric Decker, Chris Johnson and Jace Amaro should help.
Goodson failed to show up for mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, just the latest in a string of complications since the running back signed with the Jets over a year ago.
“Obviously it’s disappointing,” GM John Idzik said Wednesday. “We gave Mike, we feel in good conscience, every opportunity here with the Jets and unfortunately it didn’t work out so we made the move ultimately that we felt was best for the team.”
This doesn't have much of a fantasy impact with the arrival of Chris Johnson, but it's noteworthy nonetheless. Goodson has talent, but it doesn't matter if he can't keep things together off the field.
"Personally, I expect it to fall into place quickly and for Sankey to emerge as the busiest of the Titans' running backs three or four games into the season. You don't spend a second-round pick on a running back — and make him the first running back drafted — to turn him into a spectator.
"Let's be clear: I'm not saying Sankey will be an every-down back or that his touches will come close to the 21 per game Chris Johnson averaged in his six seasons with the Titans. With a new coaching staff and a different vision for the offense, the Titans will use multiple backs, fitting the player to the situation."
HC Ken Whisenhunt did split RB duties between Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead as the Chargers' OC last year, so we could see Sankey and Dexter McCluster filling those roles in Tennessee. Sankey is probably going to be better in the passing game than Mathews, so he has a bit more upside as a three-down back. The last 13 rookies who were the top drafted RB in their class and joined a backfield with a lackluster incumbent averaged 18.2 touches for 83.1 yards and 0.55 TD, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. That’s about what Ryan Mathews averaged as the #12 RB in 2013.