The Titans have their first preseason game on Saturday against the Vikings, and Chris Johnson -- star running back, franchise, bell cow, workhorse, and ticket-seller -- is still not with the team.
Johnson wants (and deserves) a new contract. He's not gotten it yet. If there's anyone who understands the position Johnson is in, it's Eddie George, who will be the Titans franchise leading runner until Johnson breaks his record.
George was at a Titans practice this week and told Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean that the Titans need to step up and take care of Johnson.
"I look at the organization and most of the onus is on them, because they told him they would take care of him after last year,'' George said. "From Chris Johnson's perspective, I don't blame him for not being there. He has to do what he has to do because he is one of the top backs in the NFL and the window for a running back is small. He has to get his deal now where he has leverage.
"Chris shouldn't have had to hold out because there has been ample time to get a deal done, and you can't hide behind the fact the CBA was the holdup. To me, it's unfortunate Chris is even having to go through this because I know he wants to be there practicing with his teammates."
To take it a step further, not only would I agree that Johnson has every right to hold out, but I'd say the Titans' position here is completely indefensible.
The company line has been that they won't negotiate with Johnson unless he's in camp, and they can go ahead and cling to that arbitrary little rule if they want to, but they're not doing anything but crippling themselves. The guy deserves to be paid, he's going to be paid, so why keep screwing around?
What do you want to do, bring him to camp as late as possible, so he's not in the best shape he possibly can be for the season, and have him battle some nagging hamstring injury all year?
Eddie George is right. It's time, Titans.
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