Craig Johnson named Giants running backs coach

By TOM CANAVAN - AP Sports Writer
    2014-01-22 17:51

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Former Minnesota and Tennessee assistant Craig Johnson has been named running backs coach with the New York Giants.

Tom Coughlin announced the hiring on Wednesday, roughly a week after firing long-time assistant Jerald Ingram.

Johnson was the Vikings quarterbacks coach the past three seasons. Prior to that, he spent a decade with the Titans, working two seasons as an offensive assistant, seven as the quarterbacks coach and the final year as assistant head coach and running backs coach.

Johnson is the second former quarterbacks coach from the NFC North to join the staff since the end of the season. Ben McAdoo moved from Green Bay to become the team's offensive coordinator last week.

''This is a veteran coach that has coached some great players, like (former Titans quarterback) Steve McNair,'' Coughlin said. ''He's been around a while and has experience as a quarterbacks coach, as a running backs coach and he's been a coordinator in college.''

Coughlin said that Johnson impressed him during the interview with his knowledge of pass protection and his emphasis on ball security, two areas that hurt New York (7-9) in missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

''I know he's a stickler for that and that's good,'' Johnson said of Coughlin. ''He's a coach that has a great attention to detail and I feel very comfortable being around a coach that stresses that.''

Johnson mentored Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, their first round draft choice in 2011. Ponder started all 16 games and led the Vikings to the playoffs in 2012. Ponder suffered a concussion last season and was limited to nine games. Matt Cassel led the team with 254 pass attempts, 15 more than Ponder. And Josh Freeman started one game, an Oct. 21 loss to the Giants in MetLife Stadium.

In Johnson's first season as quarterbacks coach in 2011, Ponder threw for 1,853 yards and 13 TDs in 11 games.

Ingram was one of Coughlin's original hires when he took over the Giants in 2004.

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