AFC South: James Kirkendoll

Titans practice squad

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
5:30
PM ET
The Titans annnouced they've reached deals with seven players for their practice squad:
All seven were with the team in preseason.
A few quick thoughts from the Tennessee Titans' 17-16 loss at the Edward Jones Dome against the St. Louis Rams Saturday night:

The veteran quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck was very good again, with seven completions in nine attempts for 74 yards. He’s done well to find a rhythm with his new team and the Titans should have gotten more than 13 points while he was in game. Still, three scoring drives in the first three possessions with him at quarterback is a nice development. He left the game after getting the wind knocked out of him when his neck was bent awkwardly as he went to the ground on a hit. But indications are that he is fine.

The rookie quarterback: Jake Locker did not do well when he took over for Hasselbeck. His first throw, however, was a perfectly placed pass up the right side on a roll out to Jared Cook, who made a great stretching catch. Locker finished, however, 8-for-18 for 82 yards and an overthrow interception. A week after he posted a passer rating of 130.8 his number was 35.0. Undrafted receiver James Kirkendoll should have held on to a touchdown throw that would have helped things a great deal.

Bad start: The first play from scrimmage brought back memories of last season when the secondary struggled. Cortland Finnegan let Brandon Gibson go, thinking he was passing him to a safety. But there was a mix up and Michael Griffin wasn’t close. So Sam Bradford hit Gibson for an 83-yard touchdown. Finnegan looked great in the slot as a rusher, with multiple impact blitzes that caused the Rams problems.

Also: Rookie corner Tommie Campbell actually looked to be in good position on a Donnie Avery 19-yard touchdown catch from A.J. Feeley but didn’t find the ball. … The Titans are running and defending screens far better than they did in the 2010 season. ... Rookie linebacker Colin McCarthy had a sack and was among the team’s most active defenders in the second half. … Kicker Rob Bironas looked to get on track with field goals of 46, 25 and 23 yards.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jake Locker and the Titans' offense paid their first visit to the red zone at practice Wednesday, and Locker threw the ball with great accuracy into tight spots during seven-on-seven work.

Here are some highlights of that period, all from when Locker was throwing to receivers:
That last throw was just excellent.

Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said he thought it looked like the fourth or fifth time the offense has been working inside the 20, not the first.

I watched defensive coordinator Jerry Gray talk to the defensive backs, urging them to slow it down, telling them to force the quarterback to make the perfect throw. After Williams’ great catch, secondary coach Marcus Robertson indicated he was fine with it.

“They’ll hit that one out of 10 times,” he said.

After practice, I asked Gray about slowing it down.

“Be ready to break,” Gray explained. “If you run cover-2 in the middle of the field, it’s different than in the red zone. But a lot of times, a young guy doesn’t know that. What they don’t understand is the game changes...”

“Now the game breaks down to shorter increments, so you have to be a whole lot faster breaking.”

The temptation closer to the goal line can be to break faster, so what Gray and Robertson is coaching can seem counterintuitive.

The practice was like a Friday in a game week, when team’s work on red zone. Gray said you can’t fake it in tight quarters, so guys really reveal themselves.

In seven-on-seven, it's a period that favors the offense and gives Gray and Robertson plenty to review with their guys.

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