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Thursday, February 23, 2012
Titans talking patience in secondary

By Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Yes, last year was a particularly odd one because of the lockout.

But if any positional hole tested a team’s patience, it was what the Titans dealt with at quarterback.

Cortland Finnegan
The Titans might soon be searching for a replacement for cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
They had nothing and had no choice but to wait. They got Matt Hasselbeck three days into free agency. They drafted Jake Locker. And they wound up fine at quarterback.

This time, operating with a more traditional timetable, they could start the 2012 NFL year with three holes in the secondary: Starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan and starting safeties Michael Griffin and Jordan Babineaux are all heading for free agency. (So is safety Chris Hope, who the team doesn't figure to even attempt to re-sign.)

The Titans could move quickly on Babineaux, but it won’t be a surprise if they don’t move at all on Finnegan and Griffin.

And newly promoted general manager Ruston Webster said that while it would hardly be an ideal situation, it won’t create panic either.

“It would be unsettling, it would definitely be unsettling,” he said at the combine. “Not because we don’t trust our other guys. But because there is that transition and that unknown of what’s going to happen. Those guys have been pretty good players, so yeah, that would be a little unsettling.

“I think that’s the trick at this time of the year, is being patient, not panicking or anything like that. It’s very difficult to think of having those holes, and what are we going to do? But you always have to remember that you have a draft which will also help …

“I’m a pretty patient guy by nature in those type of deals, but you want to give yourself the best chance to win every year. But you don’t want to get caught, you can’t look at it like rebuilding. You’ve got to try to win every year. So it can keep you up at night.”

Webster and coach Mike Munchak said the Titans can be OK at cornerback if they move on without Finnegan, even without an addition.

Jason McCourty would be joined by Alterraun Verner in the starting lineup. Then Tommie Campbell or Chris Hawkins could win the third spot, coming onto the field as an outside corner with Verner moving inside.

Or Ryan Mouton, who missed 2011 hurt, could come in and play in the slot.