The Titans placed Johnson on the reserve/did not report list Monday, an administrative move that doesn't impact contract talks with the three-time Pro Bowl running back, who has missed all of training camp during a contract holdout and still hasn't reported. Yahoo! Sports reported that talks are expected to resume Tuesday.
Johnson's absence leaves the Titans with third-year pro Javon Ringer and fourth-round draft pick Jamie Harper as their top running backs. But Ringer likely won't play in Thursday night's preseason finale against the New Orleans Saints because of a hip injury, marking the third consecutive game he will have missed. Harper is still an inexperienced rookie, although he has 146 yards and three touchdowns on 36 preseason carries.
So the Titans could be looking for help.
"I think it will come down to the running backs we have," Munchak said Sunday, one day after the Titans defeated the Chicago Bears 14-13 at LP Field. "What shape is Ringer in? That will be a factor in this whole thing. Jamie, we have confidence in -- more confidence than we thought we would have at this point, than we would normally have in a rookie.
"But like I said before, if we have two guys, and if Chris is not with us for whatever reason, then yes, we are going to have to obviously do something there."
Ringer has shown flashes in his limited playing time behind Johnson, averaging 4.9 yards on 59 career carries. But Munchak isn't concerned about Ringer missing time -- as long as he's ready by the Sept. 11 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Yes, he has missed the last couple games, but I feel if he is healthy, he will be able to contribute to us in a big way this season," Munchak said.
Of course, the Titans' backfield conundrum would be solved by Johnson's return. But the sides appear far apart after Wednesday's meeting between the team and Johnson's agent, Joel Segal, failed to produce a new contract.
Munchak said Monday he hadn't heard of any changes in the talks.
Johnson, who has said he wants at least $30 million guaranteed in his next deal, returned to Florida on Thursday and told The Tennessean that he and the team don't see "eye to eye."
"Basically my plan is to continue to handle my part and let Joel handle his part," said Johnson, who's scheduled to be paid $800,000 this season despite leading the NFL in rushing yards over the past three seasons and making the Pro Bowl each time. "All I can do is continue to work out and stay in shape. ... All I can do right now is keep working out and keep waiting."
The clock is ticking, with final roster cuts due Saturday before the season opener.
"Then I think you have to make a lot of decisions," Munchak said Monday. "Not only that one, but we'll have a lot of big decisions at every spot."
The Titans trimmed their roster to 80 players Monday, one day before the NFL deadline. But Munchak said they needed to make sure they had as many players available as possible before the final roster cut to 53 on Saturday.
"You don't want to have to put someone back in, in the fourth quarter, because of an injury, so we were trying to maintain every spot we could," Munchak said.
The Titans on Monday cut defensive tackle Jovan Haye, who started 15 games for the team in 2009. The six-year veteran had gained weight during the offseason after hearing the Titans wanted to get bigger on defense. But Sen'Derrick Marks recently returned from shoulder surgery, and the Titans also like rookie tackles Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug and Zach Clayton.
The Titans also waived linebacker Jonathan Cornell, punter Chad Cunningham, fullback Patrick Hills, linebacker Kevin Malast, quarterback Brett Ratliff, safety Nick Schommer, wide receiver Owen Spencer and long snapper John Stokes.
Notes: Titans DE Derrick Morgan (left knee) visited with Dr. James Andrews in Alabama on Monday. Morgan, a 2010 first-round pick out of Georgia Tech, tore his anterior cruciate ligament four games into his career. He had been cleared before the start of camp, but Morgan felt something in the knee Aug. 20 in a game against the St. Louis Rams. Munchak said he's not optimistic Morgan will be available for the opener. ... Safety Chris Hope (arm) and DB Pete Ittersagen (hamstring) didn't practice Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.