Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene to split carries for Titans

Titans want 20 carries for CJ2K, 15 for Greene

11/1/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Tennessee Titans' running backs Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene certainly have the physical appearance of a dynamic "thunder and lightning" duo, and it appears that head coach Mike Munchak will attempt to use them that way. Munchak said on Wednesday that he'd like for Johnson to receive 20 carries per game, with bruiser and short-yardage back Greene getting 15.

Blog Photo - Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene to split carries for TitansPerhaps the Titans are trying to give Johnson a similar workload to what he received in the best season of his career. In Chris Johnson's record-breaking 2009 campaign that earned him the nickname "CJ2K," the second-year runner racked up an astounding 358 carries - that's 22.4 per game. However, he has averaged less than 20 carries per game in every season since. This year, Johnson is averaging a mere 16.4 carries per contest, and he hasn't gotten 20 in a single game since Week 2.

While it would be nice to see Johnson show the same form that got him 2,006 yards in 2009, getting him back up to 20 carries per contest just does not seem realistic, especially if Greene is getting an uptick in carries as well. As of now, the Titans only run the ball 27 times per game as a team, so if Johnson and Greene combined for 35 carries, them two alone would account for a 30% increase on the team's current average.

The biggest takeaway from Munchak's comments should be the increased workload coming for Greene. Johnson has struggled mightily, especially as of late. He ranks last on the team with a horrible average of 3.2 yards per carry (less than the plodding Jackie Battle), and he's done minimal damage through the air with the exception of two games. It seems as if the Titans may be growing frustrated with Johnson and are now willing to give Greene - who has missed most of the season with a knee injury - a shot at carving a role out for himself.

Though Greene is a bit of a plodder in his own right, he does have two thousand-yard seasons to his name and a career average of 4.2 yards per carry. Perhaps Greene's head-down, straightforward running style will be better suited for the Titans, whose offensive line features two burly guards - free agent prize Andy Levitre and tenth overall pick Chance Warmack. If Greene can simply match his pedestrian production from the past two seasons, he could become a more effective option than Johnson.

The way Munchak spoke of his two running backs, it seems as if we are headed for a near-even timeshare in Tennessee's backfield. Johnson has been horrible, so the coaching staff is going to give Greene a chance to make an impact. Greene has carried the ball just five times for 20 yards this year, so the sample size is too small to develop any concrete expectations, but it's hard to believe that he could be much worse than Johnson, who is averaging 2.4 yards per carry over his past four games.

If these two do end up in an even timeshare, you have to wonder if Greene will become the better fantasy option. It will be tough for Greene to average less yards per carry than Johnson, and Greene already vultures touchdowns on the goal-line. Johnson's role on passing downs gives him a slight boost in PPR leagues, but he is averaging just 2.1 receptions per game, so the boost is not too significant. Johnson's fantasy stock looks like it's slipping pretty quickly.

We'll see how true Munchak stays to his word on Sunday when the Titans take on the St. Louis Rams and their 23rd ranked run defense. With the Rams' offense struggling thanks to a nightmare quarterback situation, the Titans should have plenty of opportunities to run the ball.
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