Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson
November 16, 2015
A: Tough right now, but 24-hour rule, you know how that goes.
Q: Whatís your overall assessment of your running back group here through 10 games?
A: I think itís still a work in progress. Obviously I would like to see them continuously improve. Until we get 4.0 (yards per carry) or more, thatís the standard point Iím going to look for, Iím never going to be happy, and they understand that. I think theyíve done a good job in the passing game and the pass protection game. I still think that we need to be more consistent running the football. Weíre going to continue to do everything we can to make that happen and I hope that will continue to bring a balance to our offense.
Q: Youíre running a heavy rotation, four guys, whatís the thinking behind that?
A: Well, I think going into the season, obviously Shane [Vereen] with a new group, he obviously has done a really good job and has lifted our pass receiving out of the third down spot. Heís done a good job as a player and then Rashad [Jennings] and Andre [Williams] coming back from a year ago had really done a good job. I had seen Orleans Darkwa do quite a bit of stuff in the preseason. He had some injury issues so we let him do more special teams early but as time continued to go on, I just felt like I wanted to give him that opportunity to play. Since I put him on the field, heís been averaging close to five yards a carry, so because of that, Iím going to continue to try and give him reps in all the games and see if we can kind of get our rhythm going with multiple guys doing it.
Q: Would you like at any point to pare it down? Are you fine with it being four guys consistently?
A: I think that obviously itís a hard number to try and get four guys reps because you always want to try and get guys in rhythm and all that. I think all of them have deserved to play. Rashad has done a lot of good things, Andre probably had the best game of all the backs a week ago, Orleans has been consistent, so what Iím trying to do is give them all some opportunities and then the guys that really seem to be in a rhythm within each game, you try and give them a little bit more reps.
Q: What is about Orleans that you saw in the preseason that you were talking about that he sort of deserved that opportunity in your mind?
A: I think he was our leading rusher coming out of the preseason. People donít know that much about him but I got to watch him in practice every day, a very smart player, heís got that good run balance, and heís made the most of his opportunities. As we continue to watch him, heís really done a great job in the special teams, which has gotten him the ability to play every week. I just remember he had played well, and we were okay, but I continued to strive for more, so we just made the decision to give him a chance to play, talked about it a little bit, put him in there, and so far heís rewarded our trust with good, consistent play. Iím going to continue to expect more from him.