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Team taking negotiations with troubled pick slowly

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans care much more
about protection than punctuality in negotiating a contract with
their top draft pick, Adam "Pacman" Jones.

General manager Floyd Reese prides himself on getting his top
draft picks under contract and on to the field for the first
practice of training camp. His lone exception since the franchise
relocated to Tennessee was defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth
in 2002, a five-day holdout.

But with Jones' arrest on July 13 on a felony vandalism charge
and two misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a nightclub
fight, the Titans want to make sure the first defensive player
taken in April's NFL Draft is able to earn what they pay him.

"I don't think there's anybody in any business, certainly not
in the football world, that wouldn't think we need to protect
ourselves some way some how," Reese said.

"I think whether they will admit it or not, I think they have
to understand that. And I think that will probably make it unique
at the minimum, make it a little bit longer, maybe a little bit
harder. But it's something we have to do."

Jones' agent, Michael Huyghue, did not return a message left by
The Associated Press.

The Titans open training camp on Friday. Reese still hopes to
sign Jones by then, but he also expects Jones' agent to use the
threat of a holdout to counter the Titans' demands.

"If they understand what we're trying to do, it would be hard
to argue with our argument. And I think if they are realistic about
it, it won't be an obstacle. If they look at it the other way, that
there's not anything we need to worry about, there'll probably be a
stumbling block," Reese said.

Hours after Jones was arrested, Huyghue issued a statement that
Jones was the victim of "opportunists, who prey on professional
athletes for financial gain."

But Robert "Big Daddy" Gaddy, the man who filed the charges,
played at Alcorn State with Titans quarterback Steve McNair and has
worked as his bodyguard. Gaddy pressed charges two hours after he
called police to his club, which is located a block away from the
Titans' stadium.

Jones also was in a room at the hotel used by the Titans to
house their rookies during training camp when police were called to
help security remove someone from the room. Police found marijuana
on the table and a bag in the pocket of Lewis Kuffuor, who was
arrested on a charge of simple possession.

In April, Georgia authorities investigated a report that Jones
was involved in a fight in a nightclub near Atlanta in April, but
no charges were filed against him in that case.

The Titans thought they had investigated Jones' character in
depth before taking him. He had been placed on one year's probation
while at West Virginia for a bar fight in August 2002.

They hope that signing Jones and keeping him busy with football
will help give him time to mature. They need the 5-foot-10
cornerback to compete for one of their open starting jobs.