Johnson takes the money and runs

Quarterback Kerry Collins hands the ball off to Titans running back Chris Johnson in a game against...

Quarterback Kerry Collins hands the ball off to Titans running back Chris Johnson in a game against against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Miss., Dec. 26, 2010. (DAVE KAUP/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:06 PM ET

TORONTO - As is often the way with contract negotiations, just when things seemed most bleak, the Tennessee Titans and Chris Johnson agreed to a contract extension.

Johnson ended his long holdout on Thursday, signing a four-year, $53.5 million U.S. extension — $30 million guaranteed — in the final week of the pre-season, a day after calling out some fans who were on him for being “greedy.”

The sides didn’t seem to be making much progress, but talks picked up over the past two days.

In retrospect, this is what most were expecting from the beginning. Johnson got to miss training camp and the wear-and-tear that goes along with that, but still should be good for Week 1.

How effective will he be? He’s an elite player, one of only a handful to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a season, but even the best of the best seldom excel right off the bat after missing an entire camp.

Johnson had been looking to not only become the highest-paid running back in the league, but also one of the top-compensated overall playmakers.

His extension averages $13.375 million a year, edging Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, who will receive $10.7 million in 2011. However, since Johnson was only due $800,000 this season and $960,000 next, the average over the six years is only $9.25 million.

Johnson regressed both as a rusher and as a threat catching passes out of the backfield last season, but the Titans are paying him more like the player that had a season for the ages in 2009.

However, even a “down year” for Johnson is pretty good.

Only Eric Dickerson and Earl Campbell have rushed for more yards over the first three years of a career.

Johnson won’t have much time to adapt to a new head coach and new quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Foster update

Another premier running back, Houston’s Arian Foster, got a bit of pushback for posting an MRI image on Twitter on Wednesday.

The image seemed to contradict pronouncements from the Texans that Foster should be able to play in their season opener.

The team quickly released a statement dissuading in advance others from following suit.

“We are aware that Arian tweeted a picture of his MRI,” said the Texans.

“It’s a violation of team policy to disclose medical information via social media and he is aware of that. We will handle the situation internally.”

To make matters worse, Foster might have set himself up for further injury.

New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi told ESPN Radio on Thursday that defenders will be targeting Foster’s hamstring this season in efforts to slow down 2010’s leading rusher.

“As I’m getting off of a pile, maybe I push,” Bruschi said. “Maybe that’s where I push. Because I know that’s exactly where it is. I give it a little dig, I give it a little twist as I get off the pile. Maybe I do that.”

Quick hits

According to profootballtalk.com, the NFL handed out a memo this week reminding teams and medical staffs that players cannot get back on the field after getting a concussion. “When in doubt leave them out,” reads the memo ... Fred Taylor is retiring after 13 seasons. He will sign a one-day contract with Jacksonville on Friday to retire with the team he leads in all-time rushing yards ... Barack Obama will give a presidential address an hour before next Thursday’s opener. Some were worried his speech would conflict with the game ... The Panthers planned to play Cam Newton and the other projected starters for two series on Thursday ... Dallas and the agent for Jay Ratliff have discussed a contract extension. The nose tackle has two years left on his deal ... Clinton Portis is still searching for a team and will work out for Seattle this week. He probably won’t get signed until after the season starts due to contractual issues concerning veterans ... Minnesota middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley could be out for the season after hip surgery on Tuesday ... The Patriots are expected to place guard Marcus Cannon and running back Kevin Faulk on the physically unable to perform list, keeping them out of action for the first six weeks of the season ... According to the Palm Beach Post, the Dolphins haven’t liked what they’ve seen from rookie running back Daniel Thomas. Apparently his pass-blocking has been awful and Reggie Bush and Larry Johnson might be on the field more than expected this year ... Reports had Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor scoring a dismal seven on the Wonderlic, but Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert, who administered the tests, said the score was incorrect. Apparently Pryor was re-tested and scored a 22 ... The Bears appear to be closing in on an extension with running back Matt Forte for about $15 million.

Gore holds a grudge

Frank Gore is happy that he signed a $21-million U.S. extension with San Francisco earlier this week, but he’s still displeased about where he was drafted back in 2005.

Mixed in with the usual platitudes, his first conference call following the signing of the new deal revealed that the draft slight has helped make Gore one of the two backs in the league.

Many excellent pro athletes — most famously Michael Jordan — use any perceived knocks against them as motivation.

Gore name-dropped the five running backs selected before him in the draft.

“I still carry that chip on my shoulder, especially with the guys who went before me, like Ronnie Brown, Cadillac (Williams), Cedric Benson,” Gore said.

“J.J. Arrington, Eric Shelton, and then me. I told myself when I came into the league that I’m going to show everybody that they passed up the best back. Look at the career, look at the numbers, and it shows”

Gore has a point. He has rushed for nearly 2,000 more yards than either Brown or Benson, leads the backs with 4.7 yards per carry over his career (Brown is at 4.3, Benson at 3.7) and has 35 touchdowns, 10 more than Benson and one less than Brown. The gap should only widen this season.


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