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Tampa Bay Buccaneers will try to keep Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson in check

TAMPA — The Bucs defense is focused on stopping Titans RB Chris Johnson, who can't seem to get going.

Johnson, who signed a six-year, $56 million contract after holding out of training camp, rushed for 130 yards in a win over Carolina two weeks ago and appeared on the verge of a breakout.

But in a loss to the Falcons last week, Johnson rushed for only 13 yards on 12 carries.

"I've played against a lot of fast guys, but he has that elite speed and is extremely fast," Bucs LB Mason Foster said of Johnson, a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first three seasons. "That separates him from a lot of running backs in the league."

The Bucs rank 26th in the league in rushing defense, allowing 133.5 yards per game. Johnson has eclipsed the century rushing mark twice this season and has 509 yards and two touchdowns on 160 attempts.

That's below par for the 26-year-old from Orlando, who rushed for 4,598 yards his first three pro seasons.

"He just hasn't had the big breakout runs he had last year," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "Hopefully, we can continue to keep that process going. He's only one snap away from returning to his old form.

"He's fast, he's quick, he's dynamic. He's a great running back … who is just searching for the big play. Hopefully, he doesn't get it this weekend."

BETTER TO RECEIVE: QB Josh Freeman is coming off a career-high 342 yards passing in a loss to Green Bay, thanks in no small part to the improved performance of his receivers.

TE Kellen Winslow had a season-high 132 yards receiving while WR Mike Williams recorded only his second touchdown of the season and his first since Week 1.

"Guys were making plays," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "If they weren't open, Josh threw them open. That's kind of the NFL. You're looking for those guys, when it's a one-on-one matchup and you've got an opportunity to make a play, the quarterback has got to put the ball there for you and you've got to make the play, and they did that last week."

The Bucs will see a lot more zone defense Sunday against the Titans, but Olson is hopeful last week's performance will carry over.

"We hope so," he said. "The players felt it. Early in the game (last week), there was that confidence and that swagger. … There was excitement and energy on the sideline we hope will carry over and remain on a consistent basis."

INJURIES: DE Michael Bennett (groin) is doubtful for Sunday. S Tanard Jackson (hamstring) and LB Dekoda Watson (groin) did not practice Friday and are listed as questionable. DT Brian Price (forearm) and T Jeremy Trueblood (knee) are probable. DT Albert Haynesworth (knee) did not practice Friday but is probable.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers will try to keep Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson in check 11/25/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 26, 2011 5:14pm]
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