"We fully expect him to get the ball 20 to 30 times in this game," Ravens coach
Johnson may be two years removed from being named the
"I'm happy he left the game because he was on the verge of breaking off 200 yards on us, I think," defensive tackle
Many emerging running backs have watched their numbers drop against the Ravens run defense, but inside linebacker
"He is the one threat that they call a home-run hitter," Lewis said. "He is the offense. He's the heartbeat. If you look at what they did last week, I think he just had nine carries. So you've got to know that he's definitely going to touch the football a lot this week. And we're prepared for it. It should be a great test for us, but when you talk about just skill and talent, he is a special, special talent."
Since being selected by Tennessee in the first round of the 2008 draft, Johnson has rushed for 1,228 yards in 2008, 2,006 in 2009 and 1,364 in 2010. He became just the sixth player in NFL history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark, and he has compiled 34 rushing touchdowns over that same span.
Johnson, however, has felt that his accomplishments went unrewarded and he held out of training camp for 35 days in the preseason to begin discussions on a contract extension. He was finally rewarded with a $53.5 million extension.
But Johnson came out flat in Tennessee's season-opening 16-14 loss to the
"We obviously want to run the ball much more than that," Munchak said during a conference call with Baltimore media on Wednesday. "They were keeping the ball. We couldn't get them off the field. Our defense couldn't get them off the field – they kept converting third-and-ones, third-and-twos, and we were running out of opportunities with the ball, so we had to pick it up and throw it when we got down 13-0. We had to change the philosophy that we normally like to get back in the game, and it worked for us. The bottom line is trying to find a way to win games. If we could design how to do it, he would carry the ball 20 times or more, but that game didn't go the way we hoped, and we almost found a way to win it, even though we didn't play well."
An effective running game built around Johnson would certainly help quarterback
But the Ravens are intent on keeping Johnson under wraps. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said the key is keeping Johnson within the tackles.