Mutual Interest Between Titans, Keyshawn
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans need an experienced receiver to help Vince Young, and said Thursday they are interested in veteran Keyshawn Johnson. "There's mutual interest I'd say right now," coach Jeff Fisher said. "I think we'll probably look into the possibility of pursuing things. Where that goes, I can't tell you."
Johnson will visit the Titans on Friday. His relationship with Fisher goes back to Southern California, when the coach played for the Trojans and Johnson was a ball boy.
"I know Jeff, but I don't know the organization and I don't know the makeup of the team and the coaching staff. I know a little bit about Norm Chow. I know Norm from college. At the same time, I want to make sure everything's the right fit," Johnson said.
"I was in a situation last year I thought was the right situation, and wind up a year later going in another direction. I want to make sure it's something everybody is committed to for the next couple of years. They're committed to me, and I'm committed to them, whoever it is I go play for."
The Carolina Panthers released Johnson, who turns 35 in July, earlier this month after drafting Dwayne Jarrett. He had 70 catches for 815 yards and four touchdowns last season and became the 16th player in NFL history with 800 career catches.
His 70 catches for 2006 easily tops the receptions of all the receivers currently on the Titans' roster who played in the NFL last year.
Center Kevin Mawae, who played with Johnson when both were with the New York Jets, said he wasn't sure if Johnson's personality -- which earned him the nickname Me-Shawn -- would click with the young Titans.
"One thing I do know about Keyshawn, he's absolutely an incredible athlete and a wonderful receiver. The guy works harder than most guys in this league," Mawae said. "He plays hard and he practices hard. That's the kind of guy you need in this locker room."
Young called Johnson a great receiver who would be welcomed.
"I really feel like he could come in and help some of the young guys at receiver and then also come in and help us," Young said.
David Givens is the Titans' only receiver with more than five seasons in the NFL and the only one with more than 65 career catches (166). But he had a second surgery on his left knee seven weeks ago and isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season.
The Titans' receivers include Justin Gage, a four-year veteran signed as a free agent who has 64 career catches; a trio of players drafted in 2005 led by Brandon Jones with 27 catches in 2006; and another trio of draft picks last month -- none taken before the third round.
Compare that to the 6-foot-4 Johnson, who was the No. 1 pick in the 1996 draft. He spent last season with Carolina after being released by the Dallas Cowboys to free up enough salary cap space to sign Terrell Owens.
Johnson said last year he wants to play a couple of more seasons to reach 1,000 career receptions. But productivity has never been his problem.
He clashed with Jets teammates and wrote the book "Just Give Me the Damn Ball" after his rookie season.
Mawae was a teammate in New York in 1998 and 1999 and still remembers Johnson's feud with fellow receiver Wayne Chrebet.
"I'd like to think everybody has matured since then. I know Keyshawn's a great player, and that's ultimately what you need in this locker room -- a great player and a guy who comes in and works hard with a great ethic," Mawae said.
Johnson helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl in 2002, only to be deactivated for the final six games the next season after feuding with coach Jon Gruden.
I'm happy to See "Key" find a place. Even though he is "outspoken" is nowhere near the issue maker that T.O. Is. I also feel after having talked with "Key" Briefly at the draft, that he has matured somewhat. He deserves more then a legit shot at his "1,000 Catches." He can Only make Vince Young a better QB as well. We all know The Titans need the help on offense.......