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Like Marshall Faulk before him, Titans' Chris Johnson finds true purpose

The Tennessee running back needs 413 all-purpose yards to break Faulk's NFL single-season record of 2,429 -- and Faulk is glad for it.

December 20, 2009|Sam Farmer

If Marshall Faulk is hearing footsteps, he isn't too bothered by them.

Faulk holds the NFL's single-season record for all-purpose yards with 2,429 -- a mark he set with St. Louis in 1999 -- but that could be eclipsed this year by Tennessee's Chris Johnson, who has 2,017 with three games to play.

Faulk said on a conference call last week that he doesn't dread losing the record, and in fact likes that Johnson is making a run at it.

"I wish I could say I was worried about it," said Faulk, now an NFL Network analyst. "I am not worried about it; actually, I am kind of happy.

"Here's the beauty of having a record: When you have a record, when someone breaks it or someone comes near it, it brings attention to that record because people forget about the feat."

Johnson is the league's leading rusher with 1,626 yards and could become the sixth player in NFL history to break the 2,000 mark. Beyond that is Eric Dickerson's rushing record of 2,105 yards. Johnson would need to average 160 yards over the last three games to surpass that.

Faulk is particularly impressed with the receiving ability of Johnson, who has accumulated 391 yards in that department.

"I believe he is a much better receiver than what they thought," Faulk said. "I was at the [scouting] combine when he was there and I didn't see his ability to catch the ball to be as much [of] an asset as it is for him right now. There is endless potential."

The most scrimmage yards in a season and the highest scrimmage yards-per-game average in NFL history (*through Week 14):

YEARPLAYERSEASONYEARPLAYERGAME1999Marshall Faulk2,4292002Priest Holmes163.42005Tiki Barber2,3901975O.J. Simpson160.22003LaDainian Tomlinson2,3702000Marshall Faulk156.41997Barry Sanders2,3582001Marshall Faulk153.42006Steven Jackson2,3341963Jim Brown152.22009Chris Johnson2,017*2009Chris Johnson155.2*

Source: NFL

Bridging the gap

Miami running back Ricky Williams needs 25 yards rushing to reach 1,000 for the season, something he should accomplish today against Tennessee. While that's not particularly unusual for an NFL back, it would set the league record for the longest gap between 1,000-yard rushing seasons -- six years. The last time he reached that milestone was 2003.

The longest gap between 1,000-yard rushing seasons in NFL history:

PLAYERYEARS 1,000-YARD SEASONSMike Garrett51,087 yards in 1967; 1,031 yards in 1972Ottis Anderson51,174 yards in 1984; 1,023 yards in 1989Earnest Byner51,002 yards in 1985; 1,219 yards in 1990Gary Brown51,002 yards in 1993; 1,063 yards in 1998Mike Anderson51,487 yards in 2000; 1,014 yards in 2005

Source: NFL

Regarding Henry

NBC's Cris Collinsworth, a former Bengals star who still lives in the Cincinnati area, has some personal memories of receiver Chris Henry, who died last week after falling out of the bed of a pickup truck.

Henry once came to watch Collinsworth's older son, Austin, play in a high school football game and spent a good deal of time speaking to Collinsworth's ninth-grade son, Jac. "When he and his friends saw Chris Henry, they flocked to him," Collinsworth recalled. "And Chris had all kinds of time for them, answered all their questions, spent time talking to them. He did everything but give them all his telephone number so they could be buddies afterward.

"To me, if you're nice to kids without getting some benefit out of it -- there were no cameras there -- he was just nice to a bunch of kids. The way I see it, if that's part of your makeup, you've got a few things going for you."

Henry had a history of run-ins with the law but, by all accounts, had gotten his life together over the last two years and stayed out of trouble.

"All he'd gotten was the attention for the negative side, and so few people had watched the turnaround," Collinsworth said. "That's what's unfortunate. I hope what stays in the memory is a guy who under very tough circumstances had started turning his life around. I hope that's the epitaph."

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