- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Michael Griffin was a mess last season. He let off-the-field stuff distract him, he dealt with a shoulder injury and that contributed to an awful season of bad angles, missed tackles and biting on play-action fakes.
To contend in the AFC South, where Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub reside, a reliable free safety seems an utter necessity. I’ve said a return to form by Griffin is a crucial storyline for Tennessee. And out of the Titans’ opening day win over the Oakland Raiders, it appeared Griffin was more the 2008 Pro Bowl version than the 2009 disaster.
“He was very productive all over the field, just focused and his rededication over the offseason paid off,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “I expect it to continue.”
Griffin was a sure tackler who was tight in coverage and a help in run support for the Titans. He dished out several big hits. Titans coaches credited him with a team-high 11 tackles. He recovered an early fumble and he added a pass defensed.
He was blitzing from the left on a first-quarter first-and-10, when Jacob Ford forced a Jason Campbell fumble. Griffin shed the block of Oakland running back Darren McFadden and was in prime position to pounce on the loose ball.
The Titans got a complete effort and showed themselves as superior to the Raiders. Among all the good signs, the quality showing by Griffin was one of the most encouraging.