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Jets bid to bolster backfield with ex-Titan Johnson

AP

Always fast on the field, Chris Johnson is looking to quickly prove his critics wrong.

The New York Jets signed the former Titans running back Wednesday, a little over a week after he was officially released by Tennessee.

Johnson met with the Jets all day Tuesday — the first team he visited — and stayed in town to watch the Knicks-Nets game in Brooklyn before signing Wednesday. The Jets announced the move, but didn’t release terms.

In a text message to AP, Johnson confirmed it was a two-year deal.

“I have a fresh start,” Johnson told The Tennessean. “Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder. I know a lot of people are doubting me.”

Johnson was told by the Titans of their decision April 4, ending a six-year stint in Tennessee during which he became one of the NFL’s most exciting running backs. The former 2,000-yard rusher will team with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell to give coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg a deep and dangerous backfield.

The Jets also have Mike Goodson, who is dealing with legal issues and recovering from torn knee ligaments.

“I’ve always been a big fan of the Jets,” Johnson told the team’s website. “There was some thought into this, but just at the end of the day, I was comfortable here. I just felt like it was the right situation.”

While his days as a workhorse running back — he carried the ball over 300 times in each of the 2009 and 2010 seasons — might be over, Johnson could be the perfect complement to the bruising Ivory and versatile Powell. In Mornhinweg’s first season as offensive coordinator, the Jets finished sixth in the league in rushing last year with Ivory and Powell sharing the load.

Despite the solid production, New York still entered the offseason aiming to improve the position with a big-play runner.

That’s exactly what they’re hoping to get in the speedy and durable Johnson, who turns 29 in September and is only the sixth player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons.

“I see this as a team on the rise,” Johnson told newyorkjets.com. “This is a winning team.”

But there have been questions about whether he’ll ever be the same player who rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009, when he earned his “CJ2K” nickname.

Johnson finished with 1,077 yards — the second-lowest total of his career — and a career-worst 3.9-yard average last season. He also rushed for 100 or more yards just twice.

The Jets held Johnson to just 21 yards on 15 carries in their 38-13 loss last season at Tennessee, but Johnson gouged them for 122 yards on 21 carries, including a career-best 94-yard touchdown run, in 2012.

The splashy move is reminiscent of the one the Jets made in 2010, when they signed an aging LaDainian Tomlinson, who turned out to be a useful role player.