Tag:Tennessee Titans
Posted on: August 22, 2011 8:46 pm
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Talib, Britt to meet with Goodell Tuesday



Posted by Ryan Wilson

For all the wrong reasons, Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib and Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt had busy offseasons. And now both players will meet this week with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss possible disciplinary measures for violations to the league's personal-conduct policy.

In May, Talib was indicted by a grand jury for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. (He later blamed his mother.) The trial was moved to next spring, and Talib now says he's ready to move on with the season (although Goodell will probably have something to say about that).

Britt, meanwhile, was arrested a day after a court appearance, and blamed hackers for disparaging remarks about Goodell that showed up on his Facebook page.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Talib and Britt will be at the league offices in Manhattan on Tuesday to talk to Goodell, and a "lengthy" fine could be in both their futures. Schefter adds that Talib's attorneys "are convinced they have a sound defense that will appease the NFL and could help save their client."

Apparently, Talib's attorney's aren't familiar with Goodell and his knack for arbitrarily handing out punishments.  And that leads us to this: expect to hear complaints that Goodell shouldn't discipline players for infractions that happened during the lockout.

We agree, it's ludicrous. But so is granting one man the power to serve as judge, jury and executioner, which is exactly what happened with the new collective bargaining agreement.

Titans' union rep Jake Scott told ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky that the NFLPA would challenge any sanctions levied by Goodell.

"I'm still a big believer that the league should have any authority to discipline guys for things that ... happened while there was no CBA," he said. "There was a separation agreement issued from the teams to the players, which means we what it means: It means, 'We don't want anything to do with you.' "To me, nothing means nothing."

Britt, meanwhile, is optimistic that he'll avoid punishment.

"We'll have a sit-down, talk over what happened, see where our minds are at, see where I am at and see what happens from there," Britt told Kuharsky Monday. " ... I'm being hopeful that nothing happens to me. I plan on being real. I was brought up to be a man of his word, a man who takes up for his actions and things like that. That's how my father raised me up and that's how I will go in there tomorrow."

Given Goodell's history, we'd be just as surprised with lifetime suspensions for Britt and Talib as $50 fines. 

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Posted on: August 22, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Antwan Odom OK after being shot in the leg

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED (12:40 p.m. ET): More from WKRG News 5's Jessica Taloney, who reports that Odom suffered only a flesh wound on his upper right thigh. He apparently was shot during a home invasion Monday morning after the shooter entered the house through an unlocked door. A man named Tony Gildersleeve has been named a suspect in the shooting.

When Taloney knocked on Odom's door today, Odom was eating breakfast with his family. Taloney also tweeted that the family seemed in good spirits, and there was plenty of laughter emanating from the house (Odom wouldn't come to the door, but a PR person who answered said everything was OK).

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Life for former Bengals and Titans DL Antwan Odom has been brutal the past few years.

And this morning, it only got worse, as WKRG News 5’s Jessica Taloney reports that Odom was shot in the leg about 4:30 a.m. Monday. The injury is not life-threatening, and deputies in Mobile, Ala., are currently looking for the shooter.

OdomIt has been an absolutely terrible three years for Odom.

He recorded eight sacks in the first six games of 2009, but then suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. He was suspended for the first four games in 2010 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy (Odom said at the time that it wasn’t for steroids or performance enhancing drugs). After returning from his suspension, he only played four games last year, recording just three tackles before he was placed on IR with a wrist injury.

He wasn’t just injured, though. Basically, Odom was ineffective, which is why the Bengals cut him in July.

To make matters worse, his $1.1 million Cincinnati home burned to the ground last March (Odom, his wife and his five kids were not at home). And now, he’s got a bullet in his leg.

It’s safe to say that, assuming Odom recovers and that he turns out OK, he’s due for a few years of good luck.

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Posted on: August 21, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Titans say new deal with Chris Johnson not close

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Titans running back Chris Johnson hinted during the lockout that he wanted a new contract. And he came right out and said it once owners and players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement. Johnson has yet to show up to training camp, and despite Tennessee general manager Mike Reinfeldt saying the team is ready to make him the NFL's "highest-paid running back," it sounds like Johnson's looking for something more than that.

Good news: Johnson returned to Nashville Saturday. Bad news: it wasn't to meet with the team -- he was in town for personal business.

In fact, the Titans say the two sides aren't even close to a new deal.

“We’ve discussed parameters," Reinfeldt told the Tennessean's Jim Wyatt before the team played the Rams Saturday. "If we can’t agree on the parameters, there’s no sense making offers. If your parameters are different … and if you are talking a different language then you are wasting your time. We’ve talked to his agent and will continue to talk to his agent.”

Also not helping things: Saturday night's announcement that the Cardinals gave Larry Fitzgerald, one of the league's best wide receivers, a shiny, new eight-year, $120 million contract that included $50 million in guarantees.

This prompted CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman to write, "You don't give that kind of guaranteed money to a wide receiver. Quarterbacks, yes. … A wide receiver? That's idiotic. Maybe a left tackle. Emphasis on maybe. Maybe a pass rusher. Emphasis on maybe. But not a wideout.

Chris Johnson's Holdout

"Fitzgerald is a future Hall of Famer, a hard worker, and someone who comes from good family," Freeman continued. "He's a leader. He deserves a huge payday but you don't give a wideout quarterback money in a salary cap league. Fitzgerald alone now occupies some 12 percent of Arizona's salary cap."

We've expressed similar views about Johnson. Namely that, even though he's one of the league's two best running backs, Tennessee shouldn't break the bank to keep him.

Johnson and his agent likely have a different view, and it could mean that signing him will be even more difficult for the Titans. Shortly after Fitzgerald's new contract was announced Johnson and Fitzgerald went back and forth on Twitter:
  • Johnson: "Congrats to @LarryFitzgerald god is good."
  • Fitzgerald: "thanks CJ you up next my guy." 
  • Johnson: "Yes sir." 
In Johnson's absence, backup running backs Jamie Harper and Stafon Johnson played well. Harper rushed for 83 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown; Johnson added 68 yards on 11 carries. Each players ripped off long runs from scrimmage (a 46-yarder for Harper, a 29-yarder for Johnson), and the Titans finished with 198 rushing yards in their 17-16 loss to the Rams.

We don't expect one performance by two backups as reason enough to prompt Johnson to the negotiating table. But it's further evidence that running backs, in general, play the most fungible position on the field.

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: August 19, 2011 3:56 pm
 

NFL punishment of Kenny Britt 'is pending'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Despite the four-month lockout, Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt kept plenty busy this offseason. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with football and everything to do with running afoul of the law. Getting arrested a day after a court appearance had to be the lowlight. And for sheer comedy value, nothing beat the "I didn't say those things about the NFL Commissioner -- my Facebook page was hacked!" incident.

Britt was so regularly in trouble that there was speculation that commissioner Roger Goodell would punish him after the lockout ended. There were concerns that Goodell didn't have the authority to punish Britt, who wasn't apart of the NFL at the time (the owners had locked the players out, and the NFLPA had disbanded).

Now that order has been restored, a new collective bargaining agreement signed, and training camps and preseason games underway, the NFL may revisit Britt's offseason misadventures.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Terry McCormick of TitanInsider that potential league discipline regarding Britt “is pending" and that the matter is still on the table.

On Thursday, Britt told McCormick that he has yet to hear from the commissioner but is expecting a call. “I'm waiting for my agent or somebody to text me or call me that I have to come and talk to somebody," Britt said. "That's what I'm waiting for. I think I'll have to (Goodell). I'm waiting if it's pending. My agent was telling me to stand by and wait for some paperwork, but the only paperwork that's come is my Nike contract.”

Good news on the Nike contract, not-so-good news on potential impending punishments.

But as PFT's Mike Florio points out Friday morning, "The idea that the league could impose discipline on players for things happening away from work at a time when they weren’t permitted to go to work falls beyond any bounds of fairness, logic, and common sense."

(Related: Steelers linebacker James Harrison faced a similar fate for comments he made about the commissioner during the lockout, although he wasn't punished.)

We mentioned it several times Thursday in light of the NFL's decision to make Terrelle Pryor eligible for the supplemental draft: This is what happens when you give one person -- in this case Goodell -- the power to make decisions regarding on- and off-field discipline. He has a history of arbitrarily meting out sanctions, and in that sense, no one should be surprised by anything he might do.

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 9:49 pm
 

Why the Titans shouldn't pay Chris Johnson

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Chris Johnson wants to get paid. We don't blame him. It's just that the Titans can't do it. Not because they're cheap, or Johnson is undeserving, but because running backs are fungible. We're not willing to say they're a dime a dozen, but it's close.

Look, there's no disputing that Johnson and Adrian Peterson are the two best running backs in the NFL. But the difference between them and the NFL's 32nd-best back is negligible when compared to the differences between, say, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and whoever your candidate is for the league's worst starting quarterback. The same holds for wide receivers, left tackles, cornerbacks, safeties -- basically every position but running back.

So why is that?

For starters, the shelf life for a top-flight running back is remarkably short. A study by Doug Drinin of Pro-Football-Reference.com found that RBs usually decline by age 28, WRs by age 30 and QBs by age 32.

In a story published in January 2005 in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Carl Prine explained that the sheer brutality of the position coupled with overuse has also played a role.

"The average career of an NFL back is 2.6 years and falling, according to the National Football League Players' Association. Players, coaches and historians interviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review blamed the mayfly careers of rushers on the … high number of carries they get in an age of free agency," Prine wrote. "Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, teams rarely asked their backs to touch the ball more than 230 times in a season.

"Historically, every time a player gets more than that many touches in a season, his production declines the following year by 50 fewer carries and 1.2 fewer games. Nearly three out of every five of these backs are out of the league within four years."

Then there's the research by FootballOutsiders.com which suggests that rushing success is more dependent on the offensive line, but pass protection is more dependent on the quarterback. Put differently: teams can find productive running backs -- no matter when they were drafted (or if they were drafted at all) or how much they're making -- if a good offensive line is already in place. A great quarterback, however, can mask an o-line's shortcomings.

(See Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, for examples. They play two totally different styles -- Manning relies on his ability to assess defenses and quickly get the ball out of his hands; Roethlisberger takes hits, extends plays and waits for his receivers to come open.)

A great running back, in general, is wasted on a mediocre offensive line.

Chris Johnson's Holdout

So what does this mean for the Titans? General manager Mike Reinfeldt said last week that the organization is willing to make Johnson the league's highest-paid back. Johnson is looking for something more than that. This is certainly his prerogative. After all, he's rushed for more yards since 2008 than anybody in the league.

That also means Johnson logged a lot of carries, too. In three seasons, he's carried the ball 251, 358 and 316 times. Johnson's yards per carry have gone from 4.9 to 5.6 to 4.3 over that time. And whether you believe in the Curse of 370 or not (basically, the theory states that if a RB carries the ball roughly 370 times or more in the regular season he will usually suffer a major injury or drop in productivity the following season), there's no disputing that Johnson wasn't nearly as effective in 2010 as he was in 2009.

It's not altogether surprising that Johnson wasn't able to duplicate his 2009 numbers (2,006 rushing yards, 14 TDs, 503 receiving yards), but he wasn't even close. He finished with 1,364 rushing yards, his yards-per-carry dropped by 1.3 to 4.3, and he had 258 fewer receiving yards.

More than that: even with his jaw-dropping performance in '09, the Titans won eight games and missed the playoffs. In 2010, they won just six times.

We could blame that on the precarious quarterback situation, but that's our point.

Here's what FootballOutsiders.com president and ESPN.com columnist Aaron Schatz told CBSSports.com about Johnson's demands for a substantial pay bump. "When was the last time a team with a big-name, big-money back went to the Super Bowl, or even had the best regular-season record in the league? I suppose the 2009 Vikings came close. Otherwise, do you have to go back to the 2005 Seahawks? The best offenses in the modern NFL simply aren't built around a single running back."

Ah yes, the 2005 Seahawks. Here's what we wrote earlier this summer about Shaun Alexander: 

"The Seahawks re-signed Alexander to an eight-year, $62 million deal in 2006, six years into his career. At the time, it was the largest contract ever signed by a running back. Alexander, who had 370 carries for 1,880 yards (27 TDs) in '05, managed just 896 yards on 252 carries (7 TDs) in '06. He gained 716 yards a year later, and by 2008 he was out of the league." 

Johnson does have supporters, however. CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel wrote last week that paying him is the right thing to do.

And Jerome Bettis, one of the most bruising running backs in the modern era, also thinks the Titans have to pony up for Johnson.

"You've got to have a feature [back] because what happens is that when you have that one guy, he becomes a threat all over the field and the defense has to respond to him a lot differently," Bettis told CBSSports.com last week. "I think that's where the difference comes in in terms of a feature back."

But Bettis thinks Johnson's worth to the Titans transcends what he's able to do on a football field.

"The problem is, if you lose [Johnson], now what do you have? You gotta have two things," Bettis continued. "In the absence of a quality football team, you've got to have a superstar for people to come see. If you don't have the quarterback, you better have the running back. If you don't have a quarterback and you don't have a running back then you don't have fans in the seats.

"You can load your team up with players, but who's going to come watch them? Because the NFL is run by superstars … and when you don't have that therein lies the problem. So [Johnson] is not only worth money ... just necessarily (for what he does) on the field, but off the field as well because you don't have the quarterback to position as your franchise guy."

And this is the dilemma facing the Titans. Do they pay Johnson because of not only what he means to the team but to the surrounding area and fan base? Or does the organization try to put butts in seats by using that large chunk of change to shore up other positions?

This reminds us of something Schatz wrote as part of his "Football Outsiders Basics" series: "By and large, a team built on depth is better than a team built on stars and scrubs. … Every team will suffer injuries; the only question is how many. The game is too fast and the players too strong to build a team based around the idea that 'if we can avoid all injuries this year, we'll win.'"

If you're still not convinced, how about this (from something we wrote earlier this month): "The previous eight Super Bowl winners didn't have a high-priced, top-5 running back on the roster. What they did have, however, was a franchise quarterback. Teams can survive without one but not the other." 

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Posted on: August 15, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 10:13 am
 

Chris Johnson not likely to show up any time soon

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Apparently, Titans RB Chris Johnson doesn’t just want top-tier running back money in order to end his holdout from Tennessee camp. He wants top-tier NFL player money. That’s the word from ESPN.com, which reports that there are no signs the Johnson-Titans impasse will end anytime soon.

Johnson's Contract Journey
Although the Titans have stated they’re willing to make Johnson the highest-paid RB in the league -- if you were looking for comparisons, Adrian Peterson will make $10.7 million this year, and the Panthers gave DeAngelo Williams $21 million guaranteed this offseason -- they actually haven’t made a formal offer to Johnson’s agent.

Meanwhile, Johnson, whose base salary for 2011 is $800,000, says he wants $30 million guaranteed for his next contract, and he’s willing to lose a year of accrued free agency to do it. It should be noted that Tennessee gave Johnson a raise to end his holdout last year, so when the Titans say they won’t negotiate with Johnson if he’s not in camp, it’s questionable whether they mean it.

Especially since we all know how important Johnson is to their cause.

Otherwise, the Titans will feature Javon Ringer, who hurt himself in Tennessee’s first preseason game and missed Monday's practice, as their starting RB. Which might not be a terrible thing, because it seems like the coaching staff and players are impressed at Ringer’s talent (even if the awesomeness of Johnson has blocked most everybody else from seeing it).

But Tennessee also doesn’t know exactly what it’s getting if the Titans need to get him 25 carries a game. With Johnson, they do.

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Posted on: August 14, 2011 1:11 pm
 

Myron Rolle on Ponder: 'He's borderline genius'

Posted by Will Brinson

Christian Ponder didn't -- at least according to one expert opinion -- get off to the greatest start on Satruday night as Minnesota lost his debut to Tennessee 14-3. But that doesn't mean he can't become a good, great or just plain smart quarterback.

Or all of the above. According to Myron Rolle, that should be easy. Rolle, Ponder's former teammate at Florida State and a Titans safety, says the Vikings quarterback is, in fact, "borderline genius."

"He’s a very smart person, incredibly smart, one of the smartest I've met," Rolle said Satruday, per John Glennon of The Tennessean. "He’s borderline genius. So I don’t think it will be an issue for him at all to get adjusted mentally to the [professional] game."

If there's one NFL player (or human being in general, actually) who knows a thing or two about being intelligent it's Rolle.

Rolle, a Florida State graduate and former freshman All-American, eschewed the 2009 NFL Draft to pick up a Masters of Science in Oxford and then entered the 2010 draft, where Tennessee took him in the sixth round.

So, yeah, if you're talking about big brains, Rolle's a guy you want to check in with. And he worked with Ponder for some time in Tallahassee so while there's potential for bias, but it's pretty hard to argue with since, as Glennon points out, Ponder's got his bachelor degree, an MBA degree and is casually still rolling through FSU's sports management program.

"He has a mind outside of just book-smart," Rolle said of Ponder. "What I like to call it is applied knowledge. He can understand things. He grasped our teams at Florida State very quickly. He grasped social concepts at Florida State very quickly. He’s very impressive."

And, as Rolle points out, he's in a pretty good situation for applying said knowledge. Sitting behind Donovan McNabb and learning the Vikings offense, adjusting to the speed of the NFL game and growing into a professional quarterback.

Absolute worst-case scenario? It doesn't work out for Ponder and, like Rolle, he falls back on one of his many collegiate degrees to earn a nice living elsewhere, which is the real advantage of being a smart NFL player.

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 7:21 pm
 

Titans ready to make Johnson 'highest-paid RB'?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: Via the Twitter feed of Titans' beat reporter Jim Wyatt: "Asked about being offered a deal after lockout, Johnson said: 'Maybe they talked, but I guarantee we never received any offer.'" 

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Titans running back Chris Johnson wants a new contract. Given that he's one of the two best running backs in the league and is set to make just $800,000 in 2011, he's right. The problem, at least until Thursday, is that Tennessee general manager Mike Reinfeldt said that the club wasn't willing to negotiate with Johnson until he ended his holdout. As of this writing, Johnson has been a no-show at training camp, even when faced with the possibility of losing a year of accrued free agency.

We've long been of the opinion that the Titans shouldn't pay Johnson "Adrian Peterson money," even if he's worth it because, in general, running backs are fungible. You can find productive players for a fraction of the cost with either late(r)-round draft picks or the waiver wire.

CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel disagrees with us, and luckily for Johnson, it sounds like Reinfeldt does, too.

According to the Associated Press Thursday, Reinfeldt wants to make Johnson the NFL's highest-paid running back, he just needs Johnson to show up first.

The AP also reports that Johnson's agent was the first person Reinfeldt called once the lockout ended, and Reinfeldt says that the two sides have already talked about the parameters of a new deal for Johnson, and they'd like to get him in training camp to learn new head coach Mike Munchak's new offense while negotiations are finished.

We're not sure if Reinfeldt is performing the one-man version of "Good Cop, Bad Cop," or if he suddenly felt compelled to take his message public, but either way, the timing seems odd.

Surely, Johnson and his agent knew that the Titans wanted the running back in camp before any new deal was drawn up, but at the same time, if Tennessee deems Johnson so important to their future, why don't they go ahead and, you know, make him the "NFL's highest-paid back?" Especially when Johnson made it clear that last year was the "last time (I'll report to camp) without me having a long-term deal. … It won't happen again."

And so far, he's kept his word.

The problem for the Titans, assuming they consider Johnson an integral part of their offense (and it sure seems that they do), is that either Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker will be under center. One's a grizzled veteran; the other the franchise's future, and both are in dire need of a running game to insure they don't get clobbered on a regular basis.

It's seldom the case that a player has leverage in a drawn-out contract dispute, but Johnson seems to be in pretty good shape right about now.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com