Running Back On The Radar

The Dolphins would appear to be in pretty good shape at running back, particularly in light of reports that both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are recovering well from their 2007 injuries. But that doesn't mean Miami will rule out selecting a running back in the 2008 draft. Scout.com's Ed Thompson has the latest one particular running back who could be of interest in the second round.

East Carolina's Chris Johnson posted the top 40-time at the Combine with a 4.24-second effort, proving all the talk about his straight-line speed wasn't just a rumor. And NFL teams have obviously taken notice of his ability to contribute to their success as an all-purpose back based on his high demand for official visits this month.

During a phone interview while he was at the airport on Tuesday afternoon, Johnson told Scout.com that he had visited the Tennessee Titans on Monday and then with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier today. He was waiting to hop onto another plane to head north to Philadephia for a Wednesday visit.

After Philadelphia, the 5-foot-11, 197-pound running back head to Pittsburgh for a Thursday visit, and then wraps up his week in Atlanta on Friday.

But the hectic schedule isn't dimming Johnson's enthusiasm or his sense of humor.

"I was telling a friend that I feel like I'm on a world tour like a band," he said with a laugh.

Things don't get any easier for Johnson next week. He has back-to-back visits beginning on Monday, April 14th with the St. Louis Rams, the Washington Redskins, and the Dallas Cowboys before wrapping up his final visit of the two-week stretch on April 18th with the Arizona Cardinals.

Johnson's a certain first-day selection in the NFL Draft, but he's also made a convincing case for first-round consideration. A true all-purpose back, he rushed for 2,982 yards and 32 touchdowns during his career while tacking on 1,296 yards receiving and 10 more touchdowns. And he was dangerous on kickoff returns, averaging 23.6 yards-per-return on 115 chances. 

Johnson had already completed private workouts for the Eagles, Cardinals and the Dolphins, but his trip on Monday to Tennessee was his first official team visit.


Chris Johnson posts the top 40-time at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
AP Photo/Michael Conroy

"It went real well for me at Tennessee, going in there and meeting all the coaches and seeing the facility," he said. "They said they have the 24th pick and they need more speed on the offense. 

"When I talked to Coach Fisher, he said that they have a bruising back in LenDale White, and they're looking for a back to complement him, and that I'd be a great fit for their offense." 

Johnson was also clearly excited about the possibility of working with Tennessee quarterback Vince Young.

"I think that's a real good situation when you look at how all the backs have done in college that have played with Vince Young because he's been a threat as a runner, too," he explained. "I think he's a great player, and it would be an honor to play in the same backfield with him."

On Tuesday, the speedy back met with Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden and the team's running backs coach, Richard Bisaccia.

"He was at my pro day, so they already know a lot about me as a player," Johnson said. "So we spent more time sitting around and talking so they could get to know me better.


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