Stafon Johnson continues another comeback from injury

Stafon Johnson apparently has another comeback in him.

The Tennessean reported Thursday that the Titans running back ran at full speed for the first time since August, when a disastrous spate of injuries ended his rookie season.

Johnson made a third-quarter catch during the Titans' Aug. 14 preseason opener, but Seattle Seahawks defensive back Kam Chancellor hit him high and spun him around, forcing the running back to land on his right leg.

The visual was so gruesome that then-Titans coach Jeff Fisher believed the rookie's shoe simply had come off and was being held on by some loose tape. In fact, Johnson wound up with a dislocated right ankle, broken fibula and high ankle sprain -- and a dream deferred.

This after Johnson's senior season at USC ended in September 2009 after a barbell crushed his neck and larynx, leaving him to learn how to talk again and trying to play his way into the NFL as an undrafted free agent.

It has been a long, lonely road back for Johnson, but his recent progress in workouts during the NFL lockout have him encouraged.

"I feel awesome, and I feel great about the opportunity in front of me," said Johnson, who isn't 100 percent yet but is ahead of schedule in his recovery. "I still have some work to do. But I'm really anxious to get back there and prove what I can do once again. I think I proved myself a little bit last year, and now I am just going to go for it and try and finish out a season."

Johnson, who rushed for 1,552 yards and 19 touchdowns in four years at USC, spent last season working with the Titans' training staff and has since teamed with trainer Travelle Gaines at Athletes' Performance in Los Angeles.

"What this kid has been through, he is so darn tough," Gaines said. "The average person would've probably quit by now, but he is back and he is going to be back and stronger than ever."

The 5-foot-11 Johnson has reduced his weight from 237 pounds to 220, and Gaines said: "He's working his butt off. I don't know how long the lockout is going to last, but he'll be ready to go for the Titans."

Johnson is under contract with the Titans through 2011, but Fisher's departure after last season clouds the running back's future. Johnson believes he has a supporter in new coach Mike Munchak, who was the Titans' offensive line coach last season.

"Coach Munchak knows what I can do," Johnson said. "I feel like I can get a fair shot, and that is all I want. I just want to show everybody I can be back to the running back that I was before and be a great back in the NFL. I've had some bad luck, but I am motivated and confident. I'll be ready to go."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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