Expect a Chris Johnson deal soon

As we learned earlier today, the Tennessee Titans offense could have a chance to surprise people under new coordinator Chris Palmer in 2011. But Tennessee continues to prepare for the regular season without its most potent weapon, running back Chris Johnson.

It’s Day 32 of Johnson’s holdout. If it reaches Day 44, he’ll have missed Week 1. But this is the eleventh hour. Mr. 2000 will need at least a solid week of practice ahead of the Titans’ first game, Sunday Sept. 11 in Jacksonville.

Oftentimes in the NFL, and in politics and business and life in general, these things get done at the last minute. Johnson will hopefully realize that losing on-field time in his prime isn’t worth a difference of $10 million or so in guaranteed money, and/or hopefully Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt will realize that he could have a division title-winning roster with Johnson in the fray and his job could be jeopardized if this debacle drags on.

Maybe that’s why NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports, via Twitter, that the team and Johnson are involved in “sustained negotiations” that, he believes, could lead to a breakthrough by the weekend.

It just makes sense. Cooler heads will prevail here, just as they did when it appeared the football apocalypse was inevitable when labor talks were going to hell this spring. I expect Johnson and the team to find a compromise for a shorter-than-expected contract that gets the league’s most dangerous running back onto the practice field early next week.