NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Chris Johnson ran his conditioning test somewhere between 12:00 or 1:00 CT, way late considering practice was at 3:30. He passed of course, running a 300-yard shuttle in under 60 seconds, taking the five-minute rest that’s built in, and beating 60 seconds again.
I believe it was a year ago on this day that we scoffed when he talked about wanting to run for 2,000 yards. Saturday he said he wants 2,500, but would be happy with anything beyond Eric Dickerson’s 2,105, the NFL’s single-season record.
He'd like an MVP to come with it.
"They'd have no choice," he said. "No player ever did it twice back-to-back, so I don't think they'd have a choice."
In the salary adjustment that moved money from later in his contract to signing bonus this season, he said there were no discussions about whether the team intended to renegotiate after this season, the third of the original five-year deal.
He praised new running back coach Craig Johnson, saying the coach who recently shifted from quarterbacks knows the playbook like the back of his hand. Johnson did visit once with Kennedy Pola -- in Florida where Pola lived in Jacksonville and Johnson in Orlando.
I asked if a guy who considers himself “Every Coach’s Dream” thought the offensive coordinator post at USC was a better job that coaching him.
“It’s a business, so it’s about money at the end of the day,” Johnson said. “More money for him.”
The other player who spent the offseason away, Stephen Tulloch, was on the field as the starting middle linebacker after his unsuccessful bid for a long-term deal. He will play for his one-year tender of $2.521 million unless agent Drew Rosenhaus can pull off something.
“It’s just unfortunate that my year [for unrestricted free agency] I’m stuck in this bind with 211 other people,” he said. “… I understood how it works, let my agent work on it and he continues to work hard in Miami.
“You work tremendously hard, you sacrifice your body every week, every year you give it all you’ve got. You look at the situation, obviously you’re not happy with it, but what can you do? Your hands are tied. There’s a deadline, you’ve got to sign, you’ve got to move forward. I’m here, I’m going to put that behind me, finish this season off strong, get to the next level and try to be a Pro Bowl caliber-player.”
Gerald McRath, the outside linebacker who’s suspended for the first four games, wasn’t with the first team defense in team periods. Collin Allred, who’s spent the offseason in Tulloch’s spot, was outside opposite Will Witherspoon. Allred said he was told he’d get work outside, but he was surprised it was with the starters. He said he seeks to be a utility guy and special teamer.
David Thornton, the likely starter outside while McRath is out, was one of five Titans placed on the PUP list, along with Damian Williams, Tony Brown, Nick Schommer, Jamar Love and Willie Rose. Jeff Fisher made it sound like they would all be back in the short term.
Justin Gage dropped out of practice with an intestinal problem and Lavelle Hawkins wound up working with Nate Washington on the first team. It would probably have been Kenny Britt – who made several nice catches along with Dominique Edison -- if he wasn’t dealing with cramping.
Vince Young is used to joking around with Dowell Loggains, an assistant coach. But he said Loggains was far more serious in his first official action as the quarterbacks coach. The quarterback said he was glad to see Loggains in the post, replacing Johnson.
Fisher said he believes Derrick Morgan is in Tennessee. GM Mike Reinfeldt indicated to the coach before practice that a deal with the first-round pick was getting close.
Veteran tight end Sean Ryan, a relatively recent addition, said he thinks he will be given a chance to prompt the team to keep four players at the position.