JOE BIDDLE: C.J. not backing down from cheetah - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: C.J. not backing down from cheetah

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A lot has been written and reported that Titans quarterback Jake Locker is the biggest single factor when it comes to whether the team will have a successful season.

Not arguing the premise, but I say it's just as important for the team's season to be what fans are anticipating, that running back Chris Johnson puts up silly numbers.

Johnson relies on his speed and, why not?

He still holds the NFL combine record for the fastest 40-meter dash in combine history. Johnson ran an incredible 4.24 seconds in an electrically timed 40 at Indianapolis.

That was 2008. This is five years later. Johnson has put a lot of miles on his odometer. He ran for an NFL leading 2,006 yards in his second season, but has come up short of the 2,000 yard marker ever since.

Johnson still considers himself the fastest human in the world at 40 yards. Whether it's true or not, he is willing to take on all comers.

But what he and Chicago Bears kick/punt returner Devin Hester have done this off-season ranks right up there as one of the most bizarre challenges they could dream of.

According to TheWrap.com Web site, the two NFL speedsters raced a cheetah earlier this year in a Man vs. Cheetah special that will kick off Big Cat Week in November on the National Geographic Wild Channel.

No one has leaked the results, but safe to say the smart money is on the cheetah, unless the cheetah is not motivated or riddled with arthritis or some other debilitating disease. A healthy cheetah will leave CJ2K in the dust.

"This is the most incredible challenge I've ever faced,'' Johnson said earlier this week. "I wanted to go up against the fastest in the world and this was it.''

Coach Mike Munchak didn't learn of Johnson's challenge until this week.

Munchak didn't have a chance to give, or not give, his blessing to the cheetah challenge.

"I did not,'' Munchak said. "He didn't call for permission. I'm waiting to see how that whole thing worked out. He's not leaking anything. He's healthy, so I know he survived. That's a good thing.''

The last thing this team needs is for Johnson to suffer a season-ending injury while doing something as silly as trying to outrun a cheetah. It only takes a torn hamstring or quadriceps muscle to put Johnson in the training room for months. A torn ACL knee injury could take him down until next season.

Johnson will be 28 years old in September. He's not getting any younger, and definitely hasn't displayed the blazing speed he showed during the 2,000-yard season. With a re-build offensive line, Johnson should have the best season in three years. He'll have no excuses with the surrounding cast the Titans have put around him.

But trying to outrun a cheetah should be the last thing on his mind. This team needs a monster year from Johnson for it to be a playoff threat.

Neither Johnson nor Hester seem to stand much of a chance. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals on the planet and with slender, long legs can produce blinding speed.

A cheetah weighs between 70-145 pounds. They can go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in only three seconds. They have been known to cover 40 yards in one second and take only 3.33 seconds to go 100 meters.

Fortunately for Johnson, there was a protective wall between Johnson and the cheetah, so no blood was spilled.

Someone in Munchak's press conference Thursday predicted that C.J. lost the race.

"He's losing?'' Munchak said, laughing. "I thought he might.''

Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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