AFC South: Patrick Bailey

A look at the snap report from the NFL for the Titans in their win over Pittsburgh.

Offense, 67 total snaps
LT Michael Roos, 67
LG Andy Levitre, 67
C Rob Turner, 67
RG Chance Warmack, 67
RT David Stewart, 67
QB Jake Locker, 67

TE Delanie Walker, 51
TE Craig Stevens, 49
RB Chris Johnson, 43
WR Kenny Britt, 43
WR Nate Washington, 38
WR Damian Williams, 27
TE Taylor Thompson, 25
RB Jackie Battle, 19
WR Kendall Wright, 19
FB Collin Mooney, 17
RB Shonn Greene, 4

Greene got hurt early or would likely have had most of Battle’s snaps. The team said Wright’s preseason knee injury wasn’t going to be an issue, but he should get more than that if he’s fine -- especially when Britt is ineffective.

Defense, 53 total snaps
CB Jason McCourty, 53
LB Moise Fokou, 53
LB Zach Brown, 53
FS Michael Griffin, 53

CB Alterraun Verner, 52
SS Bernard Pollard. 51
DE Derrick Morgan, 49
DT Jurrell Casey, 45
CB Coty Sensabaugh, 36
LB-DE Akeem Ayers, 29
DE Kamerion Wimbley, 27
DL Karl Klug, 23
DE Ropati Pitoitua, 19
DT Mike Martin, 17
DT Sammie Hill, 17
S George Wilson, 3
DT Antonio Johnson, 3

The Titans are supposed to be reducing Morgan’s snaps, but Ayers is coming off an ankle injury and they were clearly measuring his work. He wasn’t very effective. Pitoitua showed well. Hill was a big free-agent addition. He had an elbow injury in the preseason and I would expect more action from him.

Four Titans played 18 special-teams snaps: Patrick Bailey, Tommie Campbell, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Daimion Stafford.

Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was the only active player who didn't take the field.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans…

Since the Titans beat the Steelers in a January, 2003 playoff game, Pittsburgh’s won 10 playoff games and Tennessee’s won one, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Jake Locker gives the Titans a homegrown leader, something they haven’t had in too long, said David Climer of The Tennessean.

To which I say: It’s a really good point. The Titans have been hit and miss in the draft, but not many of the hits have grown into the direct-the-team brand of guys.

The Titans elected Locker, Michael Roos, Nate Washington, Bernard Pollard, Jason McCourty and Patrick Bailey as captains, says Wyatt.

Steve McNair’s history “gives the Titans reason to believe that a quarterback does not need a full season as a starter to learn all he needs to be effective in the NFL. Perhaps three training camps and 11 starts are all it takes.” A look at where Locker stands heading into his third season, from David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

Locker and the Titans are preparing for Pittsburgh’s array of blitzes, says Craig Peters of the team’s website.

My 53-man Tennessee Titans roster

August, 30, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rather than tell you this is what’s going to happen, I’ll tell you this is what would happen if I had influence in the Tennessee Titans meeting room when final cuts will be decided.

Some cuts are already trickling out from Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, so check his Twitter feed.

Quarterbacks: Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick

There just is no room for Rusty Smith and there isn’t a need for a third quarterback unless things go incredibly wrong. The difference between a random third guy and Smith isn’t giant.

Running backs: Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle, Quinn Johnson (FB)

Battle has to contribute on special teams, but he was better than Jalen Parmele through the preseason. Wyatt says Parmele is already gone. Johnson’s been hurt and could lose out to Collin Mooney.

Wide receivers: Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Justin Hunter, Michael Preston, Marc Mariani (return specialist)

Preston is one of the best 53 players on the team. Even though he won’t be active on Sundays if everyone’s healthy, you keep extra quality depth at one spot if it’s better than weaker depth at another spot. Once he’s healthy, Mariani isn’t as explosive as a punt returner as Darius Reynaud, but will more regularly get 10 yards.

Tight ends: Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson

No need for a fourth on the 53. Sign Jack Doyle to the practice squad

Offensive linemen: Tackles Michael Roos, David Stewart, Mike Otto, Byron Stingily. Interior: Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack, Rob Turner, Brian Schwenke, Fernando Velasco

Velasco is guaranteed $2.02 million under his tender contract out of restricted free agency. I’m not sure he should stick over Scott Solomon at linebacker or Stefan Charles at defensive tackle. But the big push for revamping the line and the desire for depth after last year’s slew of injuries makes me feel like they will stay loaded.

Defensive ends: Derrick Morgan, Ropati Pitoitua, Kamerion Wimbley, Lavar Edwards, Keyunta Dawson.

Dawson is a good guy to have. I can see him staying and the Titans going five ends as opposed to six tackles. But linebacker Akeem Ayers is a nickel end so he factors in here as well.

Defensive tackles: Jurrell Casey, Sammie Hill, Mike Martin, Antonio Johnson, Karl Klug (swing)

I’ve got Stefan Charles over DaJohn Harris but neither making it. If one of them sticks, it’s the last defensive line spot probably over Dawson. I see Charles on the practice squad.

Linebackers: Akeem Ayers, Moise Fokou, Zach Brown, Zaviar Gooden, Colin McCarthy, Patrick Bailey

Scott Solomon is one of my last two cuts. I want to keep seven 'backers. The seventh guy would be a trade-off for Velasco, I think. Solomon is versatile, seems to be catching on to the position change and can still play end if needed. He’s not practice squad eligible. I just can’t fit him here. I might keep him over Bailey but I don’t think they rank him that way.

Safeties: Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard, George Wilson, Daimion Stafford

The fourth spot isn’t strong and Stafford could probably go to the practice squad. But if they choose a veteran -- Al Afalava or Corey Lynch -- as the fourth I could see them trying to upgrade it with an outsider.

Cornerbacks: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Tommie Campbell, Coty Sensabaugh, Blidi Wreh-Wilson

I’d expect Khalid Wooten on the practice squad.

Kicker: Rob Bironas

Punter: Brett Kern

Long-snapper: Beau Brinkley
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Who is the most indispensable Titan?

Not the presumptive team MVP. Not the guy they can least afford to lose.

Who’s the most distinct guy, the one who the team would have to alter its schemes without?

Here are the four I think qualify for the list, in the order of their distinctness:

RB Chris Johnson: There is one guy on the Titans who an opponent has to account for at all times, and it’s Johnson. He’s still got blazing speed, and if he gets free, he’s got as much potential to break off giant runs as anyone in the league. Having one guy with that speed is fortunate. It’s virtually impossible to have another. If the Titans were without Johnson, they’d still run the ball plenty. But it would be a lot more power-based with the stronger but much slower Shonn Greene taking the bulk of carries.

TE/F-back Delanie Walker: The Titans have yet to have him on the field for a preseason game, and they might leave him on the sideline this week to be extra cautious, and to keep him a bit of a mystery for Pittsburgh. As a “move tight end," he can line up in the backfield, on the line, in the slot, and even out wide. The Titans don’t have another guy anything like him in terms of being able to shift around and create mismatches. Craig Stevens is a more traditional blocking tight end. Taylor Thompson is more of a receiver. The Titans' offense is a lot different with Walker involved than without him.

LB-DE Akeem Ayers: At 6-foot-3, 253 pounds, Ayers is one of the biggest starting linebackers the Titans have had. He’s very much a strongside guy, and now he will almost exclusively be coming forward to be part of the rush. When the Titans go to nickel, he’ll often put his hand down and function as the right defensive end. Patrick Bailey played in Ayers' linebacker spot against the Falcons, but he can’t step up to be the defensive end. Scott Solomon is a defensive end who has been converted to strongside linebacker, and while his progress has been good, he’s not a natural.

WR Kendall Wright: At 5-foot-10 (and 191 pounds) he’s the shortest receiver among the guys who will be around. Shifty and quick, Wright has a knack for not taking a big hit in the middle of the field. The Titans don’t really have another guy in the same mold. Damian Williams is working in the slot as Wright recovers from a knee injury. Williams is a quality player and a bigger target. He’s a versatile guy who is technique-sound and a quality route-runner. But he’s not the same style or caliber of playmaker.

Quarterback Jake Locker played a confident and efficient first-half. The run game looked good again. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey turned a triple play with a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery all in one swoop.

Those were encouraging developments.

That was about it for the front-liners, and those positives were swallowed up by a pretty lengthy list of bad stuff for the Tennessee Titans in preseason game No. 2, a 27-19 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday night.

A look at much of what went wrong:

Third-and-long failures. Tennessee allowed Cincinnati to convert third-and-longs and string together three long drives before halftime as the Bengals built a 17-3 lead. The headliner in third-down defensive gaffes was strong safety Bernard Pollard. He and nickelback Coty Sensabaugh missed chances to tackle Mohamed Sanu on a 24-yard catch and run to the 1-yard line that set up Cincinnati’s first score. A bit later, Pollard couldn’t bring down a crossing Brandon Tate, who ran away from him for another third-and-long conversion.

Injuries. Both strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers (right ankle) and wide receiver Kendall Wright (knee) rode a cart to the locker room after suffering first-half injuries. Both rank high on the list of players the Titans can least afford to be without. The Titans don’t have a quality, big linebacker backup for Ayers and Wright is probably the most unique receiver on the team. Ayers was on the sideline in the second half, not in a walking boot per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean on Twitter.

Drops. Receiver Nate Washington could have made a tough catch at the goal line. He was well covered by Adam Jones for a while, but the ball looked like it went through his hands. Receiver Kenny Britt let a good throw from Locker bounce off his hands. Undrafted tight end Jack Doyle had a terrible drop on what should have been an easy catch for a good gain.

Run defense. Bengals rookie running back Giovani Bernard looked very good (seven carries for 37 yards). He took one carry 22 yards and went the same distance for his one catch. Bernard got a lot of his work on one drive and looked to tire out the Titans' defense. On a Cedric Peerman run, the Titans missed two chances at a tackle for a loss (linebacker Patrick Bailey and defensive end Ropati Pitoitua), allowing him to escape outside.

Missing kicks: After moving ahead 3-0, the Titans missed three field goals in a row, with two of the off-target kicks coming from Rob Bironas and another from Maikon Bonani. It’s bad enough that the Titans had to settle for field goals. Bironas hooked the first miss wide-left, and the second went wide-right. The usually reliable Bironas missed time recently with a back issue and this was his first preseason action. Hopefully for Tennessee, his problems were related to rustiness.

Solid fade: The Bengals got a very nice Andy Dalton throw and Sanu catch on a 2-yard fade in the back left of the end zone. Tommie Campbell wasn’t as bad as he was in the preseason opener, and he had a good play on him here. He did get his hands on Sanu early, but Sanu just made a good play. That said, he didn’t look to seize the job in this game. Alterraun Verner made two plays in the first five minutes of the second half. Forget the physical attributes. Verner is a just better football player who understands the game better and has superior instincts.

The second half: The second and third teams fared better and produced a couple of touchdowns. One gaffe of note early in the fourth quarter, however: Right end Scott Solomon crashed to the middle of the field rather than containing on his side. Young Bengals running back Dan Herron reversed course and ran to where Solomon should have been. The result was a 39-yard touchdown scamper that wound up providing the winning margin.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The beat up Tennessee Titans offensive line only has one lineup change, and we knew that was coming on Friday. Right guard Leroy Harris (right knee) is out, and veteran backup Deuce Lutui will play for the Titans for the first time.

Right tackle David Stewart’s got a bad right knee, left tackle Michael Roos is two weeks removed from an appendectomy and center Fernando Velasco was just cleared coming off a concussion.

But they are all in the starting lineup.

It’s not a good day to be beat up on the offensive line, as the Bears' defensive front is a tough matchup.

The complete list of inactives follows.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Once upon a time, Steelers fans invaded an NFL game in Tennessee to such a large degree, it prompted a major organizational change.

In 1997, when the Tennessee Oilers played in Memphis, so many Steelers fans filled the Liberty Bowl for the team’s finale. Bud Adams couldn’t get over it.

He negotiated out of a second year in Memphis and got the team to Vanderbilt Stadium for its final year before the franchise’s new stadium was ready.

An hour before kickoff, LP Field is still largely empty. Of those in here, most are wearing black and gold.

As it fills up, it’ll be no surprise to see much more of the same.

The Titans are passing out pink towels as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a wise choice as they look to offset Terrible Towels of another color.

The full list of inactives for tonight:

The Titans need a pass-rusher and a center. In a year they could really need a free safety. The right kind of receiver would be intriguing.

One spot we’ve not talked much about is linebacker. They spent a second-rounder on strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers last year, when they also found a dynamic middle linebacker in fourth-rounder Colin McCarthy.

Veteran Will Witherspoon is on the weak side. He has some big games, and some where he seems kind of invisible. The team can find a bigger guy who’s more of a playmaker for the spot, be it now or in 2013.

The depth is poor. Gerald McRath was a starter in 2010 and didn’t take advantage of the chance. He was only occasionally situational last season. Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw can fill in for a bit, but they are primarily special-teamers.

I don’t think Tennessee will go linebacker at No. 20, but Alabama’s Dont'a Hightower or Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw could be in play.

More likely the Titans will tab someone a bit later like Cal’s Mychal Kendricks or someone further down like Utah State’s Bobby Wagner.
Early thoughts on the Titans' players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents come March 13, with thanks to Mac’s Football Blog, where you can find complete team-by-team lists that include exclusive rights and restricted free agents.

The Titans have already re-signed three players who were heading for free agency: tight end Craig Stevens, tackle Mike Otto and receiver Lavelle Hawkins.

Fullback Ahmard Hall -- He’s a great locker room guy, but did not have a great season and the Titans have Quinn Johnson in house.

Wide receiver Donnie Avery -- Couldn’t push his way into action and presuming the team drafts at least one receiver, it should have no interest.

Guard Jake Scott -- Team will say thanks for solid service and look to get younger and better on the interior.

Defensive end Dave Ball -- He’s not the solution, but he’s a quality complementary part who can get into the backfield.

Defensive end William Hayes -- Just hasn’t panned out. The team needs at least one new end and there won’t be room for him any longer.

Defensive lineman Jason Jones -- Was not as good at end in the new defense as he was at tackle in the old one. He can still be a very good player.

Linebacker Barrett Ruud -- Didn’t play well before he was hurt, then got displaced by rookie Colin McCarthy.

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan -- I don’t think the Titans want him at anything near what he’ll be able to command.

Safety Jordan Babineaux -- Played well enough that safety-starved Tennessee should want him back.

Safety Michael Griffin -- Does the best when everything around him is going well. But the price he’ll want gets paid to a leader, not a follower.

Safety Chris Hope -- Made a difference on the field and in the locker room for a long time, but his time is now past.

Other UFAs:

Final Word: AFC South

December, 16, 2011
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 15:

Blitzing Cam Newton: The Texans have thrived when sending five or more pass-rushers. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Houston blitzes on 52.1 percent of dropbacks, second only to New Orleans. The Texans allow a 48.2 completion percentage, only 5.5 yards per attempt, and have recorded 20 of their 24 sacks in those situations. Newton has thrown seven touchdowns and three interceptions in such circumstances. But he’s also taken 18 sacks, as many as any quarterback in the NFL. Linebacker coach Reggie Herring will work as the defensive coordinator with Wade Phillips recovering from kidney and gallbladder surgery. But Phillips drew up the plan, and the Texans should be doing what they've been doing.

[+] EnlargeNate Washington
Jim Brown/US PresswireTitans receiver Nate Washington had two TD receptions against the Colts on Oct. 30.
Rematch: The Titans beat the Colts in the first matchup 27-10 on Oct. 30 in Nashville. Nate Washington caught two touchdown passes and Patrick Bailey blocked a punt that Jason McCourty recovered for a score. Curtis Painter attempted 49 passes in that game. I think the Titans would be thrilled if Dan Orlovsky dropped back anywhere near that often, as he’s mistake-prone, and the more Indianapolis has to rely on him the better the chance at interceptions, sacks and fumbles. Defensive end Dave Ball and tackle Karl Klug could be primed to force a turnover or two. Tennessee has not swept the Colts since 2002, the first year of realignment.

Serious scoring defense: During their seven-game winning streak the Texans have allowed fewer than 20 points a game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team with such a streak was the 2005 Bears, who held eight consecutive opponents under 20 points during an eight-game win streak. Carolina has topped 20 points in 10 of its 13 games, and has averaged nearly 31 points a game over its past four.

Rest and recovery: There is not a lot that can happen for the Jaguars to change things in their last two games. But they’ve got a weekend off now after Thursday night’s beatdown in Atlanta. They finish with division games at Tennessee and against Indianapolis. So we’ll see how Mel Tucker can get a battered team ready for familiar opponents and if the Jaguars are able to get Maurice Jones-Drew the yards he needs to secure a rushing title.

Tidbits: Since Washington became a regular in 2006, his 14.9 yards per catch is the seventh-highest average in the NFL. … Arian Foster is 43 yards shy of 1,000 yards rushing, and Ben Tate is 180 yards shy of 1,000. When they both get there, they’ll become just the seventh set of teammates to hit the mark in the same season. … Texans receivers have dropped 11 passes, tied with Minnesota for fewest in the NFL this season. … Newton’s 39.2 red zone completion percentage is the third-worst in the league.

Rapid Reaction: Titans 27, Colts 10

October, 30, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts on the Titans’ 27-10 win over the Colts at LP Field.

What it means: The Titans are back over .500 at 4-3 after their first AFC South win in three division games. They got contributions from a lot of different places to beat a team everyone has beaten, but hardly got an answer for all the things that ail them right now. The Colts are now halfway through their season without a win and never posed a threat to pull an upset in this one.

What I liked, Titans: Tennessee got a giant play on special teams with Patrick Bailey blocking a punt and Jason McCourty grabbing it out of the air for an easy touchdown. The Titans turned tipped balls into takeaways, with Michael Griffin and Barrett Ruud snatching interceptions.

What I liked, Colts: The combination of Delone Carter (nine carries for 46 yards) and Donald Brown (10 for 33 and a score) ran the ball reasonably well. After a point the Titans were happy to see handoffs that ran time off the clock and kept the game moving, but still, being outrun in a game that took this shape was a bad development for the Titans and a good one for the Colts. Curtis Painter shredded the Titans’ defense late.

What I didn’t like, Titans: I don’t care how poor the blocking may have been, Chris Johnson didn’t show me sufficient effort after contact as he took 14 carries for 34 yards. On many plays he looked to give up as soon as the option for anything big was gone. He needs to worm, wiggle and work the way Javon Ringer (14 for 60) did. That’s the job. It’s not all sprints and bongo drums.

What I didn’t like, Colts: Penalties and special-teams play were both just killers. Indianapolis had 10 accepted penalties for 66 yards, consistently allowed Joe Lefeged to bring kickoffs out of the end zone and gave up a giant play with the blocked punt in the end zone that became an easy seven points for Tennessee.

What’s next: The Titans host the Cincinnati Bengals in the third game of their three-game homestand. Indianapolis plays Atlanta at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Preseason finale storylines

September, 1, 2011
The big storyline or two for the AFC South preseason finales, all of which will be played tonight…

Colts at Bengals

It would be silly for Kerry Collins not to start, and Jim Caldwell has said the new quarterback will play “a lot.” They should give him a reasonable amount of time with the starting line and the weapons he needs to sync up with if he’s starting on Sept. 11 in Houston. That would stray from the typical philosophy in the fourth game, but the change of circumstances dictates a change in approach. Unfortunately, Collins won’t have a chance to work with Austin Collie (foot) or Anthony Gonzalez (hamstring).

Titans at Saints

Depth decisions are the big story for Tennessee at this point. It’s a big night for wideouts Lavelle Hawkins and Kevin Curtis, defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, offensive tackles Mike Otto, Troy Kropog and Pat McQuistan, linebackers Rennie Curran and Patrick Bailey and safeties Vincent Fuller, Robert Johnson and Anthony Smith. Jake Locker should see significant time and it would be nice to see him cap the preseason with a performance that shows his growth since the starts of camp.

Rams at Jaguars

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew and defensive end Aaron Kampman are both coming back from knee injuries and they will see their first action of the preseason. Odds are we don’t get great reads on either, but it’s a significant thing for them to be involved in a bit of live action. A sack, at any time, by anyone, would really help in dealing with pass rush concerns. David Garrard will only get a series or two. He can do a lot for himself and the team but putting together an effort that helps create confidence.

Texans at Vikings

We’ll see some kids play a lot, a whole game in some instances. Matt Leinart will have a big chance to show why Gary Kubiak is so high on him, and it would be good if he could connect some with newcomer Bryant Johnson. Like the Texans, the Vikings are expected to have a bunch of guys in street clothes. So while I’d like to see guys who’ve shined for Houston in a great preseason -- like Xavier Adibi, Jesse Nading, Troy Nolan -- fare well early in this game, it won't mean much more than them faring well a bit later in previous games.

My plan

From AFC South blog HQ, I expect to watch the first hour of the Colts and the first hour of the Titans and post something on those two games when they are over. The Jaguars and Texans may need to wait until morning depending on how things unfold. Odds are against me seeing all four games start-to-finish by the time I post some thoughts on them. And by "odds are against," I mean it can't happen.
The Titans and Texans have doled out their tenders offers to players who could wind up restricted free agents.

But if a new CBA reverts to a formula in which players with at least four years of service and an expired contract are unresticted free agents, only four of 13 contract offers made by the two teams will wind up having any meaning.

Mark Berman says Houston didn't tender linebacker Zac Diles and strong safety Bernard Pollard. That means even in a scenario most favorable to the team in which it could maintain control over their fates, the Texans don't want them.

So Houston doesn't view Diles as a fit in its new 3-4 front and will be looking for two new safeties -- it recently cut incumbent free safety Eugene Wilson.

Among the tenders that would stick in even the players' best-case scenarios, leaving them restricted: Houston guard Mike Brisiel, Titans linebackers Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw and Titans tackle Mike Otto.

Other Texans tendered who are likely to wind up unrestricted based on service time: tight end Owen Daniels, quarterback Matt Leinart, defensive end Mark Anderson, offensive tackle Rashad Butler and receiver Jacoby Jones. Along with Pollard and Diles, the Texans didn't tender offensive lineman Kasey Studdard or defensive end Tim Bulman.

Other Titans tendered who are likely to wind up unrestricted based on service time: Linebacker Stephen Tulloch, fullback Ahmard Hall, defensive end Jacob Ford and guard Leroy Harris.

John Glennon reports the Titans passed on tendering linebacker Colin Allred, a played they could have held onto.

RTC: Bad reviews for Pierre Garcon

November, 17, 2010
Reading the coverage ...

Don Banks has an assessment of the current playoff picture.

Jeff Pearlman picks his worst 100 NFL players of all time.

Houston Texans

The offense is having trouble producing a 60-minute effort, says John McClain.

Of the 11 significant defensive statistics, the Texans are ranked 28th or worse in eight, says McClain.

Gary Kubiak’s task this week is to get the Texans thinking differently, says Richard Justice.

David Anderson may rename his dog.

A look at how bad the Texans’ defense is, from Alan Burge.

Indianapolis Colts

Injured players are expected to tough it out, says Phillip B. Wilson.

Mixing and matching linebackers is working for the Colts, says Phil Richards.

Mike Chappell thinks Austin Collie, when healthy, should be ahead of Pierre Garcon. I agree.

Indianapolis overcomes adversity through consistency, says John Czarnecki.

The Colts are in remarkably good shape considering their circumstances, says John Oehser.

Nate Dunlevy considers just how bad a season Garcon is having.

Delving into holding calls with Brett Mock.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The ticket office is working to avoid a blackout of Sunday’s game against Cleveland, says Vito Stellino.

Is David Garrard ready to stay at a high level, asks Gene Frenette.

The Hail Mary excitement spilled into Tuesday, says Stellino.

The pass rush sagged some against the Texans, says Tania Ganguli.

There’s not going to be a pass interference call on a Hail Mary, says Vic Ketchman.

Richard Collier plans on walking again, says Jim Henry. (Hat tip to Matt Loede.)

Tennessee Titans

Now is the time for Vince Young to show he’s the present and the future for the Titans, says David Climer.

Five things John Glennon knows about the Titans.

Patrick Bailey and Tom Shaw have done what the Titans expected on special teams, says David Boclair.

Jason Babin and Cortland Finnegan make Brian DiTullio’s list of the league’s 25 dirtiest players.

Bye Report: Tennessee Titans

November, 5, 2010
Our 10-point bye report on the Tennessee Titans:

Major issue: Chris Johnson’s totals are still fine, but coach Jeff Fisher pointed at the run game as a major issue heading into the team’s week off. Johnson is averaging just 3.2 yards a carry in the past two games and the yet Titans say there is no one issue. They are rotating through different problems -- a missed block, a well-played defensive snap, an incorrect read. They expect Randy Moss to back defenses off and help Johnson’s cause.

Strong seasons: I came into the season believing two veteran players who were first-round picks out of Texas needed to assert themselves for the Titans to contend. Vince Young has missed a game plus almost three quarters, but he’s been efficient and increasingly productive and currently ranks as the league’s highest-rated passer. Free safety Michael Griffin was a distracted guy last year, missing all kind of plays. His head’s on straight and he’s been great.

Close-game conclusions: Tennessee did great work finishing off Philadelphia in the final quarter. But the Titans were in range of Pittsburgh, Denver and San Diego at the end and didn’t really manage to threaten their leads. They probably aren’t going to win all those games, but they need to win more of them.

New contributors: The Titans have gotten nice contributions from veteran additions like defensive end Jason Babin (seven sacks) and Will Witherspoon and from rookies like play-making cornerback Alterraun Verner, steady return man Marc Mariani and receiver Damian Williams, who’s gotten more chances recently.

Line questions: Eugene Amano was moved to center and Leroy Harris inserted at guard on the offensive line heading into the season. Even halfway through the schedule, the line seems a bit unsettled and hasn’t matched last year’s effort in terms of run-blocking or pass protection. Jake Scott, Michael Roos and David Stewart also have not met their standards as the team absorbed 15 sacks in eight games, after yielding that many all of last season.

The big story ahead: Moss will arrive in Tennessee in the coming days and much fanfare will come with him. Players are raving about the move and may well be star struck. But for all the insiders that feel the team doesn’t get enough attention, the spotlight is coming. If a guy plays great or falls flat on his face now, more people will know about it.

Unsung: Linebackers Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw were late acquisitions brought in to add depth and fill a lot of roles on special teams. The Titans have given up too many kick return yards, but otherwise, special teams have fared pretty well and they’ve helped the cause with a lot of tackles.

APB: Jared Cook needs to force his way onto the field. The tight end is a matchup nightmare, but he has not gained the team’s confidence. He semi-complained about having only a special teams role, then went on to drop a sure touchdown pass in San Diego. He’s only a year and a half into his career, but at this point it’s reasonable to wonder if the trade up to get him in the 2009 draft was worth it.

Backup effectiveness: In a league where plenty of teams have questions about their starting quarterback, the Titans have gotten efficient play from backup Kerry Collins. He’s cleaned up for a banged up Young in three games and started one. He won his start and the Titans are 1-2 in the other games. The team is pleased with his work, some of which he did after tearing up a finger on his throwing hand.

What’s to come: The Titans head to Miami and host Washington before the meat of the division schedule cranks up and they play AFC South foes five of the final six weeks of the season.