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Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Fisher thinks Titans, Johnson can agree

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher is hopeful the team can resolve its issues with running back Chris Johnson by the time practice begins in June.

"I would assume that there will probably be a sit-down meeting between both sides between now and then and we'll see what happens," Fisher said Tuesday. "He invited me to participate in his football camp. I told him I'd like him to participate in mine.

Fisher We clearly have an issue and we're going to try to get it resolved.

-- Titans coach Jeff Fisher

"I think it makes sense to get everybody together and I think that's what we'll push for. There is no purpose, no set agenda right now. But it would make sense to get together and try to sort things out. ... We clearly have an issue and we're going to try to get it resolved."

Johnson earned $7.27 million through the first two years of the deal he signed as the 24th pick in the 2008 draft. He is scheduled to make an additional $3.56 million over the remaining three years of his deal.

But after a 2,006-yard rushing season that won him the NFL offensive player of the year award, Johnson has indicated he's looking for a significant pay increase. The issue is complicated by a rule in the collective bargaining agreement that limits salary increases for deals signed this year.

Last season, Johnson was the NFL's leading rusher by a margin of 590 yards more than Steven Jackson of St. Louis. He set the single-season record for yards from scrimmage with 2,509, topping Marshall Faulk's mark of 2,429 set in 1999 with St. Louis. He became the first player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards with 500 yards receiving in the same season.

He also was the first player in NFL history to rush for three touchdowns of 85 yards or longer in a career -- all in one season. Only Eric Dickerson (3,318) and Edgerrin James (3,262) ran for more yards in their first two seasons than Johnson with 3,234 to start his career.

Fisher's comments on Johnson came the day tight end Bo Scaife joined the Titans for voluntary organized team activities.

Fisher had previously indicated he felt Scaife was being steered to stay away from the team's voluntary workouts by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. He said he agreed with the thinking that Scaife has been well taken care of with a guaranteed $4.9 million restricted free agent tender, which brings his 2009-10 earnings to $9.3 million.

The Titans applied their franchise tag to Scaife last season to keep him out of free agency.

"It looks like he's been working out, he's in shape," Fisher said. "As long as he continues to participate in the offseason program, things will be fine."

Scaife is a go-to target for Vince Young and the team's top veteran tight end, with Alge Crumpler having left for the New England Patriots.

Scaife ranked third on the team in 2009 with 45 catches for 440 yards playing in 14 games. The Titans are also relying on contributions from Jared Cook and Craig Stevens at the position.

Scaife, a fifth-round pick from 2005, said he's been training in Denver, where he's spent time with his young daughter.

"I've really just been doing my own thing," Scaife said. "I've got a little girl and taking care of her and just preparing myself to have the best season of my career. You know when it's a good time when you feel it, and I just felt it."

The suggestion that he was staying away to help secure a long-term deal "might have a little truth to it," Scaife said. But he also spoke of his affection for his coaches and teammates.

"I'm taking care of my business, I feel good, I am healthy," he said. "I like how I am paid ... It's a blessing just to have what I do have. I've never been one of those guys to be upset, I'm not a holdout guy, I'm never going to be a holdout guy.

"Every little piece that I get I am blessed to have, because I know a lot of people don't have that. I'm glad what the Titans are giving me now and hopefully we'll figure something out one of these days."

Another restricted free agent, middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, remains a non-participant in OTAs. If Tulloch doesn't sign his tender by June 15, the Titans can reduce it.

Scaife said he talks with Johnson and Tulloch all the time and that he's sure both have their reasons.

"I want them to come back. They need to be back with their teammates, but I'm not going to knock anything they do," he said.

Paul Kuharsky covers the AFC South for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.