Can Johnson outrush Peterson? 'Of course'
FEB 28, 2013 1:26p ET
So what does Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson plan to do? Apparently, run for more yards than Peterson, whatever number he puts up.
Appearing on ESPN's "NFL Live" on Wednesday, Johnson was asked which of the two backs will have more yards next season.
"Of course, 2K," Johnson said, deploying his CJ2K moniker from when he ran for 2,006 yards in 2009.
Of course, Peterson surpassed Johnson's total this season when he ran for 2,097 yards, the second-highest single-season mark ever behind Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 set in 1984. Peterson was coming off major knee surgery and put together one of the best seasons by a running back in NFL history.
Peterson says he'll be even better next year, and though there is little reason to doubt him, Johnson's claim is more dubious. He hasn't rushed for more than 1,364 yards in any of the past three seasons, but he still believes he'll outpace Peterson, possibly reigniting a mini-feud that had existed between the two players before Peterson's injury and big return.
"I'm very confident," Johnson said on the show. "I've always been a confident guy. This is a situation, if you want something to happen, you've got to speak on it. You've got to believe in it and you've got to pray and God will lead you there. It's the kind of situation where I know the kind of guy I am. I know the kind of back I am. If the situation is right for me, I know I can do it."
Peterson and Johnson seemingly have been linked since Johnson ran for 1,228 yards in his 2008 rookie season. A year earlier, Peterson was named Offensive Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,341 yards. Johnson seemed to take the title of NFL's best running back after his 2,000-yard season in 2009, but Peterson still believed he was the best.
Then, in 2011, Johnson got paid like the league's best back, ending a holdout by signing a four-year, $53.5 million extension with $30 million guaranteed. Peterson, looking for a new contract himself, avoided comparisons and would say only that he was happy for Johnson. Yet, Johnson's deal eventually set the price for Peterson, who — 10 days later, without holding out — signed a seven-year, $100 million contract with $36 million guaranteed to become the highest-paid running back in the league.
Johnson's rushing total slipped to 1,047 yards in 2011 after his extension. Peterson, limited to 12 games because of injury, also had his career-low with 970 rushing yards. Johnson came back with 1,243 yards last season, but few doubt Peterson's claim to the title of best running back in the NFL now, following his MVP year.
Johnson might be confident, but he has ground to make up in this debate — possibly 2,500 yards' worth.
Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.