Rookie running back Stafon Johnson, who overcame a potentially life-altering throat injury last September, vowed to persevere again after he dislocated his right ankle during the Tennessee Titans' 20-18 preseason-opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Johnson had surgery on the ankle Sunday, writing on Twitter shortly afterward: "Feeling kool thank u guys 4 all the love specially my titan bro's."
Johnson was hit high and spun around by Seahawks defensive back Kam Chancellor following a short reception on the final play of the third quarter in Saturday night's game in Seattle. Johnson then landed hard on his right leg.
As the Titans prayed on one knee nearby and coach Jeff Fisher held Johnson's head, the running back was driven off the field while seated on the back of a cart. An air cast was placed on his lower right leg. He briefly held his hands over his face, then pointed toward the heavens.
"Bouncing back from trials and tribulations, this is just a bump in the road," Johnson told The Tennessean on Saturday. "God has brought me back this far, and it felt good to be where I'd gotten to. This is minimum compared to what I have been through, really.
"I'm going to continue to try and prove myself," added Johnson, whose final season at USC ended when a falling weight bar crushed his neck and larynx. "I'm just going to rehab it and try and get back as soon as possible."
Johnson's teammates talked about the injury in somber tones after the game.
"All that stuff he has been through, we just have to be motivating for him and keep him in our prayers," quarterback Vince Young said.
Johnson, an undrafted free agent, had been battling to win a backup job to 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson.
"It's very, very tough for Stafon," said Fisher, who spoke only in generalities about the injury.
"With what he's been able to overcome, he's a special young man," Fisher said.
About the only time that new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn't giddy in his Seattle debut came when he zipped across the field in front of the Titans' bench to express concern for Johnson, whom he tutored at USC.
"I told him I loved him, and no one can get tougher or stronger than he is," Carroll said. "I was so sorry to see that. This guy, what he's undergone to get here, so much pressure physically and emotionally, and to have a serious injury. ... If anybody can get back, he can. He's an absolute warrior."
Johnson was thankful for his teammates and ex-coach's words.
"I appreciate the love and support," he said. "I am just a regular guy trying to make it like everybody else. I'm just going to try and get back as soon as I can."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.