A wish list of some things the Titans’ defense wants to do against the Vikings:
1) Maximize playing time — Starters aren’t expected to play very long in the preseason finale but this will be the final tune up of game action before opening at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8. The first-team would like to have a fast start because doing so can be quite helpful in road games and Tennessee opens its season with back-to-back appearances in hostile environments. Tennessee’s defense forced a turnover early at Cincinnati two weeks ago, but then didn’t respond as well after a missed field goal. Last week, however, the Titans held the Falcons without a touchdown on any of their three trips to the red zone.
2) Fill the voids again — Tennessee was missing four of its front seven starters against Atlanta, but replacements rose to the occasion. Antonio Johnson filled in for Sammie Hill at defensive tackle, rookie Lavar Edwards filled in for Ropati Pitoitua at defensive end, Patrick Bailey replaced Akeem Ayers at strongside linebacker, and Tim Shaw did the same for Zach Brown at weakside linebacker. Each of those is likely to happen again at Minnesota, and the Titans want to continue manning up by the next men up because it is necessary during a game or the course of the season.
3) Get a good assessment tool — Titans coaches and Tennessee’s personnel department must reduce the roster from 75 to 53 by 5 p.m. CT on Saturday. There are only a few spots up for grabs, but they are vital to making the team as strong as possible. Tennessee has several young cornerbacks that it wants to see play in another game as well as players to sort through on the defensive line. Several players would be eligible for the practice squad, but that decision-making process is always clouded by the fact that other teams could sign those players to their 53-man rosters.
4) Refine tackling — Tennessee improved its tackling between the Cincinnati and Atlanta games and wants to keep doing so because this will be the last opportunity for defenders to do so in a full-contact setting until Pittsburgh. The Titans have done less studying of the opponent than last week, so fundamental tackling will be even more important.
Tags: akeem ayers, Antonio Johnson, Patrick Bailey, Ropati Pitoitua, Sammie Hill, Tennessee Titans, Zach Brown
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A wish list of some things the Titans’ defense wants to do against the Falcons:
1) Improve tackling — Titans defenders knew preseason games would be the best (and pretty much only opportunity) to tackle because of the limitations on full-contact during the offseason. They expected some mistakes and technical issues but also know that those won’t fly when they begin the regular season at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8. Tennessee put Cincinnati in multiple third-and-long situations last week but allowed the Bengals to convert 6 of 13 third downs. All six that were converted required at least five yards, and three required gains of at least 10. The first such mistake turned what appeared to be a stop on third-and-10 into a 24-yard gain that set up the Bengals’ first TD.
2) Manning up by next man up — Tennessee has encountered multiple injuries on defense but nothing that appears to threaten the season for any player. The Titans, however, will be without Sammie Hill (elbow), Ropati Pitoitua (hand), Akeem Ayers (ankle) and Zach Brown (foot) among its starting front seven defenders. Hill and Pitoitua were brought in to beef up the defensive line and stop the run on early downs in opponents’ possessions. Antonio Johnson will fill in for Hill, and the Titans will use a combo of rookie Lavar Edwards and smaller third-year pro Karl Klug in place of Pitoitua. Tennessee will likely use Patrick Bailey in Ayers’ place in its base defense and Kamerion Wimbley on passing situations, and is likely to start Tim Shaw in place of Brown. It will be interesting to see how Tennessee does against running back Stephen Jackson, the NFL’s active leading rusher, who was signed to accompany a strong passing attack.
3) Defend the Falcons’ passing attack — Although the Titans think the Falcons are unlikely to show much of its scheme, Atlanta is also likely to play most of its starters into the third quarter. Tennessee will need to blend pass rush and coverage by the secondary against 2012 Pro Bowl QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones and TE Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons also have Roddy White, who didn’t join those three in Honolulu but did have 92 receptions for 1,351 yards and seven TDs last season. The Falcons frequently incorporate three-receiver sets, so that should allow the Titans’ nickel and other sub packages a considerable amount of work.
4) Pick a corner — The Titans plan to start Alterraun Verner at right cornerback but also have Tommie Campbell play approximately a quarter with the first team. The two have competed for the starting job that is opposite Jason McCourty, and coaches would like to have that decision made after this game. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said right cornerback will have ample opportunities to make impact plays this season because he thinks teams will be more likely to throw to that side of the field than McCourty’s.
Tags: akeem ayers, Alterraun Verner, Antonio Johnson, Jason McCourty, nfl Preseason, Ropati Pitoitua, Sammie Hill, Tennessee, Tennessee Titans
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A wish list of some things the Titans’ defense wants to do against the Redskins:
1) Stop the run — The Titans made a substantiated effort to get larger on the defensive line to stop the run on early downs and force teams to face longer third downs. Tennessee added free agents Sammie Hill and Antonio Johnson at defensive tackle and Ropati Pitoitua at defensive end. The Titans want to see Hill work with Jurrell Casey, who’s had a strong training camp, to halt the run.
2) Evaluate cornerback challenges — Tennessee has indicated it wants to play more press man coverage at cornerback this season. Jason McCourty is the starter at left cornerback, but the right cornerback spot is open with Alterraun Verner and Tommie Campbell alternating snaps with the first team during training camp. After that, the Titans also want to see third-round pick Blidi Wreh-Wilson and sixth-rounder Khalid Wooten match up against receivers in a game setting. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said this week that Coty Sensabaugh is likely to replace McCourty fairly early against the Redskins.
3) Define new identity — The Titans also added experience in the secondary by signing free agents Bernard Pollard and George Wilson at safety. Wilson signed first and is capable of playing either safety position, and Pollard is likely to start at strong safety in partnership with free safety Michael Griffin, allowing Griffin to patrol the middle of the field for interceptions. Pollard, fresh off helping Baltimore win Super Bowl XLVII, has been incredibly vocal and a welcome voice in the locker room.
4) See linebackers continue to grow—Akeem Ayers is entering his third season as a strongside linebacker and Zach Brown is preparing for his second at the weakside. Ayers and Brown had strong seasons in 2012, but injuries forced the Titans to start four different players at middle linebacker. The Titans brought in Moise Fokou, who has played outside and inside linebacker, to add versatility and depth, and Fokou will start in place of Colin McCarthy, who was scratched from the game with a leg injury.
Tags: akeem ayers, Alterraun Verner, colin mccarthy, Jason McCourty, Jurrell Casey, Moise Fokou, Sammie Hill, Titans
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Linebacker Zach Brown and defensive end Kamerion Wimbley each had 1.5 sacks in the game*, while linebacker Akeem Ayers, safety Michael Griffin, and defensive tackles Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug each tallied a solo sack.
In franchise history, there have been only five games in which the Oilers/Titans recorded more than seven sacks and only three road games with more than seven sacks.
Most team sacks in a road game, franchise history:
8 – Nov. 10, 1985 at Buffalo
8 – Sept. 12, 1982 at Cincinnati
8 – Oct. 17, 1976 at San Diego
7 – Nov. 25, 2012 at Jacksonville
7 – Oct. 9, 2005 at Houston
7 – Nov. 28, 1999 at Cleveland
7 – Nov. 14, 1999 at Cincinnati
7 – Sept. 23, 1979 at Cincinnati
7 – Dec. 22, 1963 at Oakland
* Brown was initially credited with two sacks in the game, and Wimbley was credited with one sack. A third-quarter sack by Brown has since been changed to a split sack between Brown and Wimbley.
Tags: akeem ayers, Jurrell Casey, Kamerion Wimbley, Karl Klug, Michael Griffin, Zach Brown
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He totaled three receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown, recording his fifth career 100-yard game.
Late in the fourth quarter Washington somehow held onto to a long pass from Jake Locker, leaning over the body of defensive back Jacob Lacey to snare the catch. The 71-yard touchdown gave Tennessee a 34-27 lead with 3:11 remaining at LP Field.
His 71-yard TD equaled his career long set at San Diego on Oct. 31, 2010.
His first catch, a 32-yarder, extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one reception to 65, including all 51 games he has played with the Titans.
Tags: akeem ayers, Nate Washington
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Players were busy on Titans Tuesday, with defensive tackle Shaun Smith visiting students at Jere Baxter Middle School, along with Titans community relations staffers Tresa Halbrooks and Joshua Love. Meanwhile, offensive linemen Jake Scott and Kevin Matthews joined rookie linebackers Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy visiting patients at Baptist Hospital with Jerry Blessing of the team’s community relations staff.
Here’s a complete slideshow from Smith’s school visit.
Tags: akeem ayers, colin mccarthy, jake scott, kevin matthews, shaun smith
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