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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
While McCourty leads, Titans talk rotation

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans appear hell bent on maintaining the cornerback slot opposite Cortland Finnegan is open for competition.

And that’s the right approach in June, when you can't win a job and probably can't lose one either.

But through 12 of 14 spring and summer OTA practices, Jason McCourty has run with the first team 11 times. Tye Hill was due to get a shot last week, but suffered a hamstring injury and was out. Ryan Mouton got that day, but then McCourty was quickly back in place.

Jason McCourty
While Jason McCourty appears to be the front-runner to start opposite Cortland Finnegan, Titans coaches aren't saying as much.
Still, coach Jeff Fisher says it’s unwise to read too much into who’s getting the reps at the head of the line.

“We’re just rotating,” Fisher said.

But no matter how much he talks about rotating, the team hasn’t been rotating, at least not at the top.

Fisher said Hill, when healthy, can expect reps to come, as can rookie Alterraun Verner.

Rod Hood would have been in the mix as well, but he tore an ACL recently and is out of the mix.

I sought out former Titans safety Marcus Robertson, the defensive backs coach, to get a review of McCourty’s work so far.

Like his boss, Robertson wasn’t especially eager to single out McCourty or differentiate him too much from Mouton -- leaning toward talking of “them” rather than “him.”

Perhaps we need start calling them McCourton?

I think it’s clear that the Titans like Mouton better in the slot and he’s better suited for it while McCourty is better outside. But with Vincent Fuller entrenched there, it’s not an available spot.

Robertson said McCourty has “drastically improved.”

“Both of those guys have the ability,” Robertson said. “The one thing I like about JMac is the simple thing that he’s coachable. He has all the tools to be a good football player, he understands the game. I think for him, the more times he sees it, the better he will be.”

A brutal season for the Titans' secondary last year included too much time for Mouton and McCourty on the field as rookies.

“Although it wasn’t a great thing for us, I think it was a good thing for them,” Robertson said. “Because they got an opportunity to realize that at any given time you can be exposed and that if you don’t do the hard work during the week, you can easily be embarrassed on Sunday.

“That isn’t a good feeling and I know now that they are dedicated to being the best players they can be.”

McCourty said he isn’t concentrating on who’s lining up when, but that all of the team’s corners -- with Nick Harper’s old spot now open -- have to think of themselves as starting material.

“I know the guys behind me are just as good,” McCourty said. “So if I go out there and I slack, one of them is going to pick up on that and hop in front of me.”

Receiver Lavelle Hawkins interrupted to brag about having beaten McCourty on a play late in practice. McCourty didn’t really flinch. Pressed, he said it wasn’t much of a victory for the receiver, who grabbed a short slant.