Who blinks first, Titans or Johnson?

Titans running back Chris Johnson has yet to report to training camp due to a contract dispute....

Titans running back Chris Johnson has yet to report to training camp due to a contract dispute. (Getty Images)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

TORONTO - Free agency apparently doesn’t mean much to Chris Johnson.

Johnson, one of the NFL’s premier running backs, stretched his holdout to 12 days on Tuesday, refusing to report to Tennessee’s camp on the deadline for players under contract to show up to earn an accrued season towards free agency.

Johnson has two years left on his deal with the Titans but is looking for a massive payday now.

Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson was in a similar situation, but showed up at Eagles camp on Monday.

The Titans might be worried that Johnson has peaked since he rushed for 2,006 yards in 2009 (becoming just the sixth player ever to get to 2,000), but slipped to 1,364 in 2010, after promising to take a shot at 2,500 yards rushing.

He did become the first player ever to manage 2,500 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2009 and has been pretty durable for Tennessee, but the receiving yards were cut almost in half last season and he battled injuries late in the year.

The club wants him to show up before it will renegotiate his contract, which calls for just $800,000 in base salary this season.

In the past, Johnson has said he is looking for $30 million in guarantees on a new deal, but Carolina recently gave DeAngelo Williams — the top back on the market — just $21 million in guarantees.

That said, Williams was the best of a middling free agent lot and Johnson is clearly a superior player so should get more whenever the situation gets resolved.

Matt Hasselbeck might be an upgrade over the inconsistent Vince Young and the average Kerry Collins, so Johnson’s numbers could trend back up once he does come to terms.

As long as Johnson is inked by the final pre-season game, this might actually benefit the Titans by making Johnson fresher for the regular season. He will avoid taking hits in practice and in meaningless games, allowing him to do more when it counts.

That’s a big reason why there isn’t much urgency on either side right now to get something done.

NFL back in L.A.?

The return of the NFL to Los Angeles became more of a reality on Tuesday.

Plans to build Farmers Field, a $1.2 billion football stadium in downtown L.A. were unanimously passed by Los Angeles City Council.

Anschutz Entertainment Group will work with the city to build the 68,000-seat stadium which will be next to the Staples Center, also owned by AEG.

“This is a significant project for our city and it will bring football back to this city,” councilwoman Jan Perry, the committee chair said.

Once upon a time, Los Angeles had two teams, but the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders went back to Oakland in 1995 leaving the second-biggest media market football-less.

The rise of the league since then has been remarkable considering L.A.’s absence and a return would probably only make the NFL even more popular.

Work on the field is scheduled to start in June of 2012 with an opening slated for Sept., 2016.

What practice?

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers obviously has seen that classic Allen Iverson clip where the Philadelphia 76ers star railed against practice.

After Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy ripped the offence as looking sloppy, Rodgers responded on Tuesday by joking in his best Iverson impression:

“Practice? We talking about practice?

“We’re not talking about a game. We’re talking about practice ... Practice? I’m not overly concerned.”

Iverson’s rant went on much longer. Rodgers eventually turned serious, saying the Super Bowl champs will get it together once they get in shape and stop making so many mental mistakes.

The Packers open the pre-season on Saturday against Cleveland.

McCarthy had said on Monday the Packers — specifically the offence — were “not close to where we need to be as a football team.”

Rodgers said he doesn’t believe the team is behind because the players did not meet up for informal training sessions during the lockout and said a little more time is all that is necessary to get things rolling.

Quick hits

First-year New England Patriot Chad Ochocinco has done some strange things over the course of his career. This one might be the weirdest. “I’m going to do something different, I’m actually going to stay with a fan for the first two, three weeks of the season,” Ochocinco told reporters. “That should be fun, until I get myself acclimated and learn my way around.” He didn’t reveal how he will select his new roommate, but did say the Internet and an Xbox must be available ... Jacksonville’s QB situation is getting interesting. David Garrard has been ruled out of Thursday’s pre-season opener against New England due to a sore back, so rookie Blaine Gabbert will get the start with Luke McCown also seeing action ... The Carolina Panthers are breathing a sigh of relief. Wide receiver Steve Smith cut his finger at practice but did not break anything ... Jimmy Clausen is getting the start for Carolina’s first pre-season game but that doesn’t mean No. 1 overall selection Cam Newton won’t be the guy when the games kick off for real. The team will look at both of their young quarterbacks, but expect Newton to win the job ... The NFL will now test for performance-enhancing substances — but not recreational drugs — on game days ... Peyton Manning is: “Doing well, coming along,” according to head coach Jim Caldwell but the Indianapolis star still has not practised. He is still a ways off from suiting up and might miss the entire pre-season ... Ex-Dolphin, Saint and Argonaut Ricky Williams passed his physical and suited up for the Baltimore Ravens for the first time. Williams is trying to become the 26th member of the 10,000 yard rushing club, he needs 435 yards to do so and is fifth among active players ... New York Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress is still smarting from an ankle injury and is not yet practising after a brief return on Sunday. He is doubtful for Monday night against Houston ... Ray Lewis told cbssports.com he will retire if Baltimore wins the Super Bowl this season ... Less than a year after being traded for each other, running backs Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell are both Detroit Lions. Both practised for the first time on Tuesday and will help replace injured rookie Mikel Leshoure who tore his left Achilles tendon. The Lions are hoping Jahvid Best holds up for a full season ... Channing Crowder, let go by the Dolphins recently, has decided to retire to pursue a career in the media.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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