NFL Notebook: Johnson half as good

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards last season, but will be...

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards last season, but will be hard-pressed to reach 1,000 this season. (REUTERS)

Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:07 PM ET

Talk about lowered expectations.

Just two years removed from a 2,000-yard rushing season, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is lowering his goals for where he’ll end this season.

With 930 yards through 14 games, Johnson said he’s hoping to gain 1,000 yards.

“Any running back who runs for over 1,000 yards, it puts you up there in a group with elite running backs,” Johnson told the Tennessean. “Even though I am not having the best of years, to go over 1,000 yards, that’s something a lot of people thought probably wouldn’t happen this year.”

It would seem that given a running back of Johnson’s quality, that gaining 70 yards over his final two games should be money in the bank.

However, in a season that has contained more lows than highs, Johnson has failed to gain 35 yards rushing in six different games this season.

Last week against the Indianapolis Colts, Johnson gained just 55 yards while the previous week against the Saints he was held to 23 yards rushing.

On Saturday, Johnson and the Titans are home to the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars. He will face a much tougher test in the season finale when the Titans are on the road against Houston and their tough defence.

RODGERS WINS TOP ATHLETE AWARD

There is no doubt that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the leading candidate to earn Most Valuable Player honours for his terrific season leading the Packers.

On Wednesday he received a major boost towards that goal when he was named the Associated Press male athlete of the year for 2011.

Rodgers received 112 votes from the 212 American news organizations that voted for the award. Detroit Tigers Cy Young winning Justin Verlander was a distant second with 50 votes.

Rodgers, who was voted the MVP of last year’s Super Bowl, is the third NFL quarterback to win the award in the past five years, following Drew Brees in 2010 and Tom Brady in 2007.

“Those guys are household names, the best of the best,” Rodgers said. “It’s special to win the award, and something I’ll remember.”

Through the Packers’ opening 14 games this season, where Rodgers has led them to a 13-1 record, he has completed 68.1% of his passes for 4,360 yards with 40 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

No doubt it will be the first of many awards that will go to Rodgers this season, especially if the Packers win their second consecutive Super Bowl.

MCCOY’S BELL STILL RINGING

For the second consecutive game, Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy will not be playing as he is still suffering from post-concussion syndrome and is unable to practise.

McCoy has been sidelined since taking a hit to the helmet from linebacker James Harrison on Dec. 8, in Pittsburgh. Harrison’s hit led to a one-game suspension.

McCoy was at the Browns’ training facility Wednesday but has not yet been medically cleared to return which leaves veteran backup Seneca Wallace to make the start Saturday in Baltimore.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur has not officially chosen Wallace as his starter.

“Not yet, but it’s going to come soon, I’m sure,” he told the Plain Dealer.

The Browns’ failure to check McCoy for a concussion after he was hit has led to a lot of criticism and has led the NFL to institute putting a certified trainer in the press box to help monitor head injuries.

Shurmur said he doesn’t know if McCoy would be cleared to play in the season finale against Pittsburgh on Jan. 1.

TEBOW-MANIA REVVING UP

Tim Tebow could be headed to the Pro Bowl.

With the fan voting portion coming to an end, Tebow finished third among all AFC quarterbacks and fifth in voting of all quarterbacks.

The leading vote-getter among AFC quarterbacks was Tom Brady with 1.45 million. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished second with 935,000 followed by Tebow who received 633,000 votes.

Tebow-mania could rev up another notch this weekend if the Denver Broncos down the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders lose to Kansas City, a scenario that would give the Broncos the AFC West division and send Tebow into the playoffs.

Fan voting, though is just part of the process.

NFL players and coaches vote on Pro Bowl rosters Wednesday and Thursday, and the rosters are chosen through a process that gives equal weight to the players’ votes, the coaches’ votes and the fans’ votes.

Pro Bowl rosters will be announced next Tuesday with the game taking place on the Sunday before the Super Bowl, Jan. 29 in Honolulu.

Naturally, players on the Super Bowl teams will not participate in the Pro Bowl. A large number of other players aren’t available due to injuries.

 


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