The Titans’ personnel department and coaching staffs wanted to make the decisions this week as difficult as possible.
Tennessee used a huge splash in free agency to add deep talent across the roster and followed it with a draft that drew considerable praise. Opportunistic undrafted free agents signed shortly thereafter, and the team went to work in phases this spring to prepare for all the changes the Titans have in mind for 2013.
All NFL teams were allowed to open training camp with 90 players but must reduce their rosters to 75 by 3 p.m. CT Tuesday and down to 53 by 3 p.m. CT Saturday. Some teams began the process Sunday but Titans coach Mike Munchak said the team hadn’t yet made any of those decisions when he held his day-after game press conference Sunday.
Multiple factors affect decisions, including the production, experience and health of each player and across each position group, as well as versatility. The wild cards that come from outside a team’s facility and training camp are the decisions made by 31 other teams during their roster reductions.
Receiver Michael Preston knows this drill. Preston, who played collegiately at Heidelberg University, signed with the Titans as an undrafted rookie in 2011 but was released as the preseason concluded and signed to Tennessee’s practice squad two days later. He spent all of that season on the practice squad and returned for training camp in 2012. Again, Preston missed the final cut and signed with Tennessee’s practice squad. The hard work was rewarded in December when he was signed to the active roster and played the final four games of the regular season.
Preston’s camp has included several nice grabs on the practice field, downfield blocking on run plays and for teammates after catches and eight receptions for team-bests: of 144 yards, an average of 18 yards per catch and two touchdowns.
Munchak was asked about Preston’s bid for a roster spot after Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons in which Preston caught a 56-yard pass and a short touchdown in Tennessee’s 27-16 win.
“You want those kinds of tough decisions. You want guys playing well like that like he has been,” Munchak said. “He has gotten better every year since he has been here. He was working at it. He makes some decisions tough, but again, it was good to see him go out there and make plays. He plays special teams also. He’s done a nice job.”
Senior defensive assistant Gregg Williams said last week that preseason games are incredibly important to defensive coaches because, as one of the small windows for full-contact football, they allow more accurate assessments. Williams said personnel will determine the number and type of packages he and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray will implement this season.
“The most important thing we do as a coaching staff and organization is pick the right 53, and that’s not easy,” Williams said. “It’s not easy when you’re in basically underwear, shorts, and now there’s an awful lot of non-contact stuff that we do in the training camp, so we’ve got to use these games as a great evaluation tool to pick the right 53, and once we get that done, the packages will develop and we get guys in crucial situations and special situations we’ll develop packages for those guys.”
Tags: Gregg Williams, Michael Preston, Mike Munchak, NFL, nfl Preseason, Tennessee, Tennessee Titans
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Michael Griffin believes the addition of Gregg Williams would help the Titans’ defense.
Griffin was asked about Titans coaching staff changes today during a community event at Hunters Lane High School in which Papa John’s made an $8,592 donation to his “Sacks 4 Kids” program benefiting underprivileged children.
“I’m pretty sure if you put he and Coach (Jerry) Gray together we can get things turned around,” Griffin said. “If he comes, I know coach Gray has coached underneath him, so I don’t think it would be anything where two coaches would bump heads trying to figure things out. Just watching the Saints play when they won the Super Bowl, and watching the way they played [under Williams],…and he’s been a coach here before. So he’d be able to bring all that together. I think it would help us in the long run.”
Griffin said he didn’t feel there would be any trust issues with the former New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator.
“I don’t think so. All of that is in the past and you just have to move forward,” Griffin said. “He’s been suspended and most people learn their lesson when they get suspended. The league took action and you just go from there. He paid his dues. He missed the whole entire season. You just have to go from there and move forward. I think as a Tennessee Titans organization we have bigger problems than to worry about what happened with the Saints.”
And would Williams need to tone down his approach?
“I don’t know about necessarily toning things down, I think he would just have to re-word his terminology,” Griffin said. “Football is a rough sport. Just watch (safety) Bernard Pollard play for the Baltimore Ravens. Some of those hits he’s doing – they’re all perfectly legal. It’s part of the game. If Williams does join us, I’m pretty confident that we could probably get things turned around going into this next season.”
Nearly a month removed from football, Griffin said he returned to the weight room last week and will continue picking up his conditioning pace throughout the off-season. After watching Sunday’s Pro Bowl and with the Super Bowl approaching, his football juices are flowing.
“Really you start getting geared back up and ready to play,” he said. “We’ve been out for almost a month now. I’m just getting back into the weight room, starting to train and pretty soon will get back out running and just get ready for next year.”
And Griffin will be ready play a key role on a defense that significantly improved over the second half of last season and one he feels is ready to take the next step.
“This team now is getting older. A lot of these guys are going into their third years. We’re not rookies or second-year players anymore,” Griffin said. “You’ve got Jurrell Casey who’s stepping his game up. Sen’Derrick Marks is stepping his game up. Now it’s time for all of us to step our game up. No more excuses. It’s time for us to get things turned around and get back on track.”
Tags: Gregg Williams, Michael Griffin
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New Orleans Saints cornerback Jabari Greer, who played under Gregg Williams for three seasons (2009-11) strongly endorsed his former defensive coordinator during an appearance on NFL Network this week at the Super Bowl media center.
Greer, a nine-year veteran who began his career in Buffalo, said Williams was motivational and transformed the Saints’ defense into one of the NFL’s best during his time in New Orleans.
“Everybody wants to play for a guy like that, someone that will motivate you to be the kind of player that you’re called to be,” Greer said.
Greer said when the bounty situation went down “a lot of people were thrown under the bus.”
“But ultimately I’m not one to judge or to say that a person should be condemned because of what happened,” Greer said. “This is his livelihood, this is what he was born to do. And who are we to say that you can’t do what you want to do for the rest of your life and take that from you? I’m not going to say that, and I don’t think anyone on this panel should say that either.”
Tags: Gregg Williams
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Williams, the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator from 2009-11, would need to be reinstated from his suspension by the NFL for his role in the Saints’ bounty program before he can be hired. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press Sunday the league has not yet addressed Williams’ potential reinstatement.
Williams coached with the Oilers/Titans from 1993-2000, rising from defensive assistant to coaching special teams, then linebackers and finally defensive coordinator.
In Williams’ last season with the Titans, Tennessee ranked first in the NFL in fewest yards allowed, first in passing yards allowed and third in rushing defense. The Titans also set a franchise-record for fewest points allowed with 191 with an aggressive defense.
LOCKER ON THE MEND: The surgery to repair Jake Locker’s twice dislocated non-throwing shoulder is expected to keep him in a sling for about a month, during which time he’ll work with physical therapists to maintain range of motion, but the quarterback hopes to be ready for minicamps in June.
“Everything went like they hoped it would,” Locker told the Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt. “I feel great, I’m feeling awesome, really. … I’m supposed to make a full recovery and have a strong shoulder. If all goes well, I shouldn’t have to miss anything with the team.”
Locker said his pain level feels fine except for when he sleeps at night. “It doesn’t hurt too bad,” he said. “It’s just getting used to not being able to use one arm. It’s kind of a shock to the system.”
TICKET PRICES NOT RISING: The Titans will not raise ticket prices for the 2013 season, owner Bud Adams told Wyatt.
“We approached the process of ticket pricing with thoughtful consideration of all our season ticket holders. We appreciate each and every ticket buyer and are indebted to them for their constant support,’’ Adams said. “After this careful consideration, we are pleased that we are able to hold the line on our ticket prices for 2013. We will continue to build towards a better 2013 with the continued support of our great fans.”
Titans ticket prices continue to be among the lowest in the NFL ($46 to $92 per game).
SENIOR BOWL A WRAP: Titans player personnel executives and coaches are back in Nashville after spending last week evaluating players at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
The Titans now turn their attention to free agency and next month’s scouting combine, another key phase in the evaluation process for April’s NFL Draft.
Here’s a recap from Saturday’s Senior Bowl action.
Tags: Gregg Williams
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