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Tennessee Titans Football

Titans TE Delanie Walker Joins ESPN’s Carolyn Peck for Nashville Tour

Posted by Craig Peters on April 6, 2014 – 12:28 pm

Titans TE Delanie Walker visits a boot store with ESPN basketball analyst Carolyn Peck during their tour of Nashville.

Titans TE Delanie Walker visits a boot store with ESPN basketball analyst Carolyn Peck during their tour of Nashville.

Titans tight end Delanie Walker joined ESPN basketball analyst Carolyn Peck for a recent tour of Nashville, which is hosting its first NCAA Women’s Final Four.

The semifinals are April 6, with the championship game scheduled for April 8 (Update: Notre Dame (37-0) and Connecticut (39-0) advanced to the championship game).

Walker and Peck visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, where they caught up with country star Bucky Covington while looking at a car that belonged to Elvis, and the Parthenon in Centennial Park. They also made time to hit up honkytonk staple Tootsie’s. Peck tried on some boots, and Walker bought a cowboy hat at a nearby shop (click here to watch the video).

Peck is a native of Jefferson City, Tenn. She played collegiately at Vanderbilt before working as an assistant coach at Tennessee, Kentucky and Purdue. Peck head coached the Lady Boilermakers to a national championship and later was head coach at Florida before joining ESPN’s broadcast team.

Walker had 60 receptions (second-most on the Titans) for 571 yards and led the team with six TD catches in his first season in Tennessee.

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GM: Titans Have Added ‘Key Players in Key Spots’

Posted by Craig Peters on April 6, 2014 – 11:45 am

Titans general manager Ruston Webster told “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith in a recent interview that he’s pleased with the players that Tennessee has acquired through free agency and the way in which the personnel department has worked with new coach Ken Whisenhunt’s staff (click here to see the video).

“We’ve been able to add some key players in key spots,” Webster said. “Anytime you lose a David Stewart and are able to replace him with Michael Oher, that gives us a ton of flexibility and I feel great about it.”

Oher is expected to play right tackle opposite left tackle Michael Roos. The Titans also added running back/receiver/return specialist Dexter McCluster, defensive lineman Al Woods, quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Shaun Phillips and offensive lineman Eric Olsen from other teams.

Webster has balanced his focus between free agency and preparations for next month’s NFL Draft, but will be shifting more of his attention to the draft. Players who are under contract with the team can begin voluntary workouts Monday at St. Thomas Sports Park during the first of the three-phase offseason program.

“A lot has gone on, but I’m really pleased with the communication we’ve had with Coach Whisenhunt in making decisions on players and any other issues that we have to deal with,” Webster said. “That’s been very positive, and I’m looking forward to seeing our players on the field and I’m looking forward to diving into the draft.”

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Titans TE Delanie Walker Shares Fatherly Advice on YouTube Series

Posted by Craig Peters on March 28, 2014 – 4:14 pm

Delanie Walker's work with MADD helped him earn Titans Community Man of the Year honors for 2013.

Delanie Walker’s work with MADD helped him earn Titans Community Man of the Year honors for 2013.

Titans tight end Delanie Walker recently participated in a series of “My Life As A Dad” videos on YouTube.
Walker joins Robert Nickell for three separate videos in the series that interviews celebrity and athlete fathers. In the first, he describes what he’s learned through parenting and how important it was to him to be actively involved in the life of his son, Delanie Walker, Jr. (click here for the first video).
Walker describes how much he enjoys spending time with his son during shopping trips and while playing Madden NFL video games during the second video (click here to watch the second video).
In the third video, Walker talks about the tragedy of losing his aunt and uncle, Alice and Bryan Young, in a car crash caused by a drunk driver after Super Bowl XLVII. Walker explains helping his son through that difficult time and his work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to prevent future tragedies by raising money for the organization and awareness to the problems caused by drunk driving, along with helping lobby for stricter laws to prevent drunk driving and increasing options for transportation (click here to watch the third episode).

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Who Will Titans Take in SI.com’s Latest Mock Draft?

Posted by Gary Glenn on March 18, 2014 – 1:13 pm

Nick Florence, Anthony BarrSI.com NFL columnist Don Banks released his second mock draft of 2014 and has UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr going to the Titans with the 11th overall pick.

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Barr was a First-Team All-American in 2013, posting 10 sacks as a rush linebacker in UCLA’s 3-4 scheme. He led UCLA in sacks and tackles for loss in each of the last two seasons, and is projected to be a disruptive pass rush force at the NFL level.

Writes Banks: “With cornerback Alterraun Verner having departed for Tampa Bay in free agency, Michigan State cover man Darqueze Dennard or a safety (Louisville’s Calvin Pryor or Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) would seem like strong possibilities. But the Titans lack pass rushers, and need to find someone who can turn the corner and reach the quarterback in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 scheme. Barr is far from a finished product, but he’s big, fast and can rush the passer, and in the NFL, that combination means you’ll always be popular.”

Here’s Bank’s Top 10:

1. Houston – Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida

2. St. Louis – Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

3. Jacksonville – Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

4. Cleveland – Johnny Manziel, OB, Texas A&M

5. Oakland – Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

6. Atlanta – Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

7. Tampa Bay – Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

8. Minnesota – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

9. Buffalo – Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan

10. Detroit – Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

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Mel Kiper Discusses Latest Mock Draft

Posted by Craig Peters on March 13, 2014 – 10:40 pm

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. on Thursday released another round of projections for the 2014 NFL Draft and predicted that former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr will be the player taken by the Titans with the 11th overall pick.

Mel Kper Jr. recently projected Anthony Barr would be picked by the Titans at the 11th overall spot in the NFL Draft.

Mel Kper Jr. recently projected Anthony Barr would be picked by the Titans at the 11th overall spot in the NFL Draft.

Kiper’s projections with a little less than two months remaining before the three-day event have changed since his last mock draft that was released before the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

“Barr, is projected to go, by people in the league that I talk to, anywhere between 10 and 20,” Kiper said. “I’ve put him right now at 11 to Tennessee as a defensive end. He can play with his hand on the ground, he can play on his feet, he provides a lot of versatility, and I think he’s a little underrated going into this draft, based on the fact that he would have been a top-10 pick guaranteed had he come out last year.”

Barr played two seasons at running back before switching to outside linebacker for 2012-13. He was first-team All-America in 2013 after recording 65 tackles (42 solo), 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

Kiper believes Barr can play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme. (Click here for Combine Recap: Linebackers).

Kiper previously projected that the Titans would select Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan from the 11th spot, but in this version, he has Lewan being the third tackle selected in the draft from the ninth overall spot by Buffalo. Kiper has Auburn tackle Greg Robinson going to St. Louis with the second pick, and Jake Matthews going to Atlanta at sixth overall. Kiper also switched his projection of the top overall pick, slotting University of Buffalo LB Khalil Mack to Houston and sliding his previous No. 1, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney to the Jaguars at the third spot.

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ESPN’s Bill Polian on Free Agency’s Challenges

Posted by Craig Peters on March 6, 2014 – 3:43 pm

ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian said during a recent conference call that he considers free agency “the most difficult thing I had to do as a general manager on virtually every front.”

The Titans and all 31 other NFL teams have been preparing for that part of the offseason that is quickly approaching. NFL clubs are allowed on March 8 to enter contract negotiations with agents of players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at 3 p.m. (CT) March 11, but not allowed to execute a contract until the 2013 deal has expired. Free agency Q & A.

ESPN NFL analyst and former general manager Bill Polian said free agency presents clubs with multiple challenging decisions.

ESPN NFL analyst and former general manager Bill Polian said free agency presents clubs with multiple challenging decisions.

One potential outcome of the negotiation window could be players’ agents gathering offers from other teams and relaying them back to their clients’ current clubs while time still remains to reach a new deal.

“I generally think the more knowledge you have in free agency, the better off you are, so if a (player’s agent) comes back and says, ‘I’ve got this. You’ve got to beat it,’ ” Polian said. “You can make the decision as to whether or not that offer is real or not real and go forward accordingly, but at least it’s a parameter. There’s no perfect world in free agency. From a club standpoint, it’s very difficult.”

Polian, named NFL Executive of the Year six times, said teams must consider how a player will fit in an offensive or defensive system, how fast the player can positively impact a team and the financials of the deal.

“When a player changes teams, systems and locales, he’s going to have an adjustment period. I think that is something that is missed by most analysts and fans,” Polian said. “Football is not a seamless transition. Basketball is, baseball is and hockey, to some degree, is. Football is not. Systems change. People have a difficult time adjusting to begin with and then if you have a system change or a technique change, it’s even worse, so you could typically find that a player doesn’t play to his maximum in his first year as a free agent. It may take him a year to get adjusted, and that’s a year that you’ve lost but you’ve paid pretty big money for.”

For those reasons, Polian said his preference, when possible, was to re-sign players that fit into his teams’ future plans and under the salary caps.

“Free agency, in and of itself, is an over-payment situation,” Polian said. “That’s why the (players’) union fought so hard to get it. That said, if your own players are quality players and you believe they can help you win, it’s better off to pay them, I’ve always believed because they’re probably as good or better as what you can find in-market, number one, and number two, you know them better than you know a player from another team, so you’re paying a premium, but you’re putting it to a person that you know, that you believe in and that has no adjustment coming into your system.”

Polian was asked specifically about the Houston Texans with regard to how teams that have new coaching staffs can benefit from free agency.

“It depends upon the system,” he said. “For example, if you were going to go to a power 3-4 and you don’t have a genuine nose tackle on the squad or a genuine right end or perhaps two inside linebackers that are big thumpers that can take people on, you’ve got to try and find them somewhere. If one is available in free agency that fits the scheme, it’s probably a wise move to go do it, presuming that the price is right. I keep coming back to longevity because lack of longevity or injury history leads to dead money. Those are the dilemmas a general manager faces, but if you’re making a sweeping change in scheme, free agency can help you at least start the process.”

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Titans DC Ray Horton on Safeties Bernard Pollard & Michael Griffin

Posted by Craig Peters on March 5, 2014 – 4:31 pm

Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton said during Wednesday morning radio interview that he is pleased the Titans re-signed Bernard Pollard to a multi-year contract.

Horton was a guest on The Wake Up Zone on 104.5-FM and elaborated on the retaining of Pollard, a 2013 Titans captain who led the team with 142 tackles in his first season in Tennessee. Click here for audio of the interview.

Bernard Pollard will be an important player for the Titans, defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.

Bernard Pollard will be an important player for the Titans, defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.

Horton, who was hired this offseason, said Pollard will provide “continuity for one, and I think leadership for two, and hopefully the fans will see a different style where we blitz him more and give him more freedom to disrupt.”The coordinator who appeared in two Super Bowls as a player and has coached in three said Pollard’s previous experience of winning Super Bowl XLVII with Baltimore will be helpful as the new coaching staff sets the tone of Tennessee’s defense.

Horton also discussed his initial thoughts on Michael Griffin, who is likely to play closer to the line of scrimmage this season than a year ago when he often lined up about 20 yards off the ball and patrolled the field.

“Not only do I want him to play closer to the line of scrimmage. I want him to play further behind the line of scrimmage, meaning go get the quarterback,” Horton said. “I think when you have an athletic player that is smart, do more things for me. Don’t always be the deep safety. Be up at the line of scrimmage, ‘are you coming (on a blitz)? Are you not? Are you dropping? Is it camouflage?’

“It’s all those things where I don’t want the quarterback to go, ‘33 is always going to be here.’ I want confusion,” Horton continued. “I want second-guessing from the quarterback. He’ll figure it out quickly, but I want him to go through his progression. The longer it takes him to figure it out, the more time we have to get to him.”

The Titans are able to begin their offseason program on April 7, which will allow the new staff an opportunity to meet with players. Horton said he’s the effort he’s seen during film study.

“The first thing I was most impressed with was their effort because if you can channel that effort in the right direction at the right time, you’ve got pieces there, and they did that. I keep using the example of Jason McCourty, who is one of the smaller guys on the team, but how violent a player he is with hitting, tackling, aggressiveness, and when the little guys will do that, you should have a pretty good team,” Horton said. “On the other end of the spectrum, you have the big guys that run to the ball. From a coaching standpoint, that’s what you want. I keep using the coaching mantra of little guys that hit and big guys that run. That’s really all you want, and the rest is just, you call the game.”

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Titans Fans Approve of Bernard Pollard’s Return to Team

Posted by Gary Glenn on March 4, 2014 – 9:41 am

_DSC0785Safety Bernard Pollard received a big welcome from Titans fans when he signed with the club a year ago. That didn’t change Monday night when he garnered an outpouring of positive feedback across social media channels upon word he had signed a multi-year contract to remain with the team.

“I’m so grateful for the response that I’ve received on Twitter and Facebook,” Pollard told TitansOnline.com. “It tells you that this city is ready for something big to happen. We’re getting paid to bring wins back to Nashville, and that’s going to ignite our fans and keep them excited. When we kick things off over the next month, we need to get ready for October, November and December right now. That’s the mindset of Coach Whisenhunt, Coach Horton, Ruston Webster and our owner, Mr. Smith…I’m very excited and ready to go!”

That’s music to the ears of Titans fans, who quickly embraced the hard-hitting safety and one of the team’s leaders, both on and off the field in 2013.

And the fact that he signed with a week to go until the start of free agency gives Titans management a chance to direct their focus on other needs.

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Titans GM Ruston Webster on Value of NFL Combine Workouts

Posted by Craig Peters on February 23, 2014 – 8:37 am

Ryan Fitzpatrick joked last week that the on-field workouts at the NFL Combine are the “Underwear Olympics.”

The veteran Titans quarterback, however, plans to watch some of NFL Network’s coverage of the activities that more than 330 draft-eligible players take part in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Titans GM Ruston Webster said NFL Combine workouts are important but just part of the evaluation process.

Titans GM Ruston Webster said NFL Combine workouts are important but just part of the evaluation process.

Offensive linemen and tight ends began four straight days of timing and testing drills Saturday. Quarterbacks, receivers and running backs have the option of going Sunday, followed by defensive linemen and linebackers Monday and defensive backs Tuesday. Click here for NFL.com’s results tracker.

Team executives, coaches and scouts will take a more comprehensive look at the performances, but Titans general manager Ruston Webster said the timing and testing drills and workouts are just one part of the evaluation process. Webster was asked last week about their value.

“It’s helpful to those guys that work out well. I think you have to be careful not to put too much on the workout and make sure you go back and watch the film,” Webster said. “I think that happens every year. I think teams come in here and players work out really well. Everybody talks about them rising up the charts and then you go back and watch film and really in the end, that’s where people are going to draft off of.”

The Titans were able to schedule 15-minute interviews with 60 of the prospects, and scouts spent the fall evaluating players on film and learning more about them in a search “for the best football players we can find,” Webster said.

“The thing we need to make sure is they’re competitive, tough guys that are going to work and have the talent to play well in the league,” Webster said. “I think if we get enough of those guys, we’ll win.”

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Efficiency a Goal for Titans During Prospect Interviews at NFL Combine

Posted by Craig Peters on February 22, 2014 – 6:43 pm

What can be learned or accomplished in 15 minutes?

Titans general manager Ruston Webster, coach Ken Whisenhunt and coaches and scouts have 900 allotted minutes, broken into 60 sessions, to find out.

Titans general manager Ruston Webster says preparation is the key to maximizing time during interviews with players at the NFL Combine.

Titans general manager Ruston Webster says preparation is the key to maximizing time during interviews with players at the NFL Combine.

Tennessee was able to request 15-minute interviews per player with 60 of the more than 330 draft-eligible prospects who were invited to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the 2014 NFL Combine.

The limitations placed on the number of players establish a need for efficiency that is magnified during the sessions.

Earlier this week, Webster talked about what can be learned during the interviews.

“I think it is like anything else. If you come here and watch the guys that work out, there is a group that stands out, there’s a group that might struggle and there is a big group in the middle,” Webster said. “In those interviews we are looking for the guys that stand out or the guys that might struggle. It is helpful, but it is not the end-all, be-all, just like the workout is not the end-all, be-all.

“You do your research on players and try and do as much background as you can, and that has to weigh into it to,” Webster continued. “Somebody just may not be a good interview, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to be a good player and it doesn’t mean that they don’t have the right make-up that you want for your team.”

While players know more about what to expect during the interview process and have placed emphasis on practicing their responses, team executives do their homework during the season to find out background information. There can be metaphorical green, yellow or red lights that flash during or immediately after interviews.

“There are certain things that come up through the years that surprise you, and the guy leaves the room and you say, ‘Did he really say that?’ They’ve become a lot more rehearsed now,” Webster said. “They used to be a lot more interesting.

“I think the key to questions at the combine is already knowing something about the player. I think you already have some kind of background, that player’s background, or what he’s like, you can ask the right question and get the right response, so our scouts do a great job of researching these players before we ever get in there,” Webster said. “Some of them are really funny, and then there’s those guys that just blow you away with how impressive they are. Those guys usually end up being pretty solid football players too.”

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