- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Chris Johnson expects to start Sunday in the New York Jets' season opener, but he's not sure about his exact role -- i.e. how the carries will be divided among the running backs.
Johnson might not be certain of the particulars, but he's confident in this: He won't be spending a lot of time on the bench.
"At the end of the day, they wouldn't have brought me in here if I wasn't going to have a big role, if I wasn't going to be a big part of this offense," Johnson said Wednesday. "That's something I'm not worried about. I'm not worried about my role and how it's going to play out. As a free agent, they could've chosen a lot of different guys. They already had some guys in here that had some success. They weren't going to bring me in here for no reason."
The Jets signed the former Tennessee Titans star to a two-year, $8 million contract, adding him to an already solid backfield. The Jets say they have three starting-caliber tailbacks in Johnson, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell. In fact, they're all listed as starters on the depth chart.
In the preseason, Johnson carried the ball 23 times, compared to 13 for Ivory and seven for Powell -- but Ivory and Powell missed time due to injuries. The feeling around the team is that Johnson, a former 2,ooo-yard rusher, will get the bulk of the carries, followed by Ivory and Powell. Obviously, game situations will determine the plan. There also could be plays in which two tailbacks are on the field at the same time; we saw that a couple of times in the preseason.
In six seasons with the Titans, Johnson averaged 18 carries per game. He probably won't reach that number, especially since he's coming off knee surgery. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn subscribes to the "hot hand" philosophy.
"I don't know about that, I just know they didn't bring me in here for nothing," Johnson said. "I'm pretty sure I'll be happy with whatever goes on."