Head down, eyes up for Carr as Titans return man
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
|Joe Robbins/Getty Images|
|Chris Carr racked up 68 yards on kickoff returns against the Rams last Saturday.|
When Chris Carr settles under a kickoff or punt Friday night against Oakland, take a look at his head. Is he keeping it relatively level, or tilting it way back?
Jeff Fisher, a former punt returner, always takes a special interest in the candidates for the job.
And as the coach has worked with Carr, one of several pointers he has offered was about how to look up to find the ball.
"He told me sometimes don't get your head as far back, but get your eyes up," Carr said, tilting his head sharply to illustrate how it can throw him off kilter. "Sometime you get your head too far back and it kind of throws you off balance. If you have your head lower and your eyes up higher, then you can kind of scan the field and see the ball at the same time and have more balance. I think it's going to help me catch the ball and be more explosive with my initial steps."
Against the Rams, Carr looked smooth and decisive as the Titans lead punt and kick returner Saturday night. He took two punts 27 yards and three kickoffs 68 yards, with a long of 31. Not spectacular, but steady and reliable.
The Titans signed Carr, a restricted free agent, away from Oakland with an offer sheet the Raiders didn't match. They like him as a versatile piece who can play safety and corner and handle returns.
He arrived as an experienced kick returner who had a lot to learn about fielding punts.
"He's very secure with the ball, he makes very good decisions, he goes north and south," Fisher said. "He's very comfortable with punts. I have no reservations whatsoever. He uses good judgment. I talk to him during the game, get him lined up. From the standpoint of never having done the punt thing before, or only on rare occasion, he's got a good feel for it."
Still, the auditions for both jobs are ongoing.
"We're going to give Chris Johnson a chance to return kickoffs this week, so we'll see," Fisher said.
I suspect Johnson will become so important on offense so quickly, that the Titans won't wind up factoring him in on returns.
Carr's willingness and ability to gobble up initial yardage instead of always looking to break a big one are qualities the Titans have often lacked.
"Sometime you just need to get upfield and get positive yardage," he said. "Then maybe it comes time to dance around a little bit to go score. I'm confident I've got some great people blocking for me."