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Chris Johnson Returning to Nashville to Talk with Titans


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee running back Chris Johnson says he is flying to Nashville to meet with the Titans' general manager, a move that might bring both sides closer to getting a deal done and end his holdout.

Johnson tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he is flying to Nashville Tuesday night and that he and his agent - Joel Segal - will meet with general manager Mike Reinfeldt on Wednesday morning.

The three-time pro bowler has refused to report to camp despite having two years left on his original contract. The Titans have said they will make him the highest paid running back in NFL history, but want him to report first before accelerating talks. Wednesday's meeting in Nashville might offer a way around that demand.

Johnson also tweeted that things could get better or worse after the meeting.

The Titans, who wrapped training camp a day early Monday, were not available for comment Tuesday with players given the day off. Coach Mike Munchak has repeatedly said he would have liked to have had Johnson around from the start of camp.

"It's just a matter of hoping that it's sooner than later," Munchak said.

The Titans are willing to pay Johnson, who is scheduled to earn $1.065 million for 2011 after Tennessee revised his contract a year ago to get him more money. His original five-year contract was for $12 million, and Johnson said in 2010 he wanted around $30 million in guaranteed money.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back has led the NFL in yards rushing over the past three seasons since being drafted 24th overall out of East Carolina, and his 4,598 yards rushing ranks behind only Eric Dickerson (5,147), Earl Campbell (5,081) and Jamal Lewis (4,757) over a back's first three seasons.

Now Adrian Peterson is due to make more than $10 million this season, and big money contracts have been signed all around the NFL since the lockout ended. Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams got $21 million in guaranteed money as part of a five-year deal for $43 million.

The numbers have gone higher since then.

Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald agreed to an eight-year deal worth up to $120 million Saturday night, prompting Johnson to congratulate him on Twitter and tweet "god is good." Carolina center Ryan Kalil got a five-year deal, and Cleveland gave left tackle Joe Thomas a seven-year deal worth $84 million.

Speedy running backs have a shorter career span. Johnson, who turns 26 on Sept. 23, has missed only one game, and he was deactivated in 2008 with the AFC's top playoff berth already clinched. He has started 46 of the 47 games he has played and has fumbled only six times in three seasons despite 925 rushing attempts and 137 receptions.

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