AFC South: Ryan Fowler

Titans: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
6:53
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


Biggest surprise: Chris Henry survives again? It’s hard to think that if they look to add someone in the next couple days it won’t put the running back at risk. But the third-year runner got at least an initial spot as the Titans waived-injured Quinton Ganther, a more valuable and versatile player as the fourth back He suffered a calf injury in the preseason finale. Hardly as big on the list of surprises: the end for veteran linebackers Ryan Fowler, Josh Stamer and Rocky Boiman, leaving the team with very young depth; Patrick Ramsey sticking as a third quarterback; and the survival of cornerback Cary Williams.

No-brainers: The Titans kept nine defensive linemen. The lowest ranking of the bunch is probably second-round pick Sen’Derrick Marks and the Titans certainly intend to give him time to develop. They kept four tight ends, a move never in doubt with Jared Cook in his first year and Craig Stevens in his second. Receiver Paul Williams showed very little in two seasons since the Titans spent a third-rounder on him and it was certainly time to look to someone like rookie Dominique Edison instead.

What's next: Sixth-round draft pick Jason McCourty, looks to have an early chance to be a special teams contributor and should survive ahead of Cary Williams at cornerback if the Titans make a move to upgrade depth. But corner depth and the punt return job remain the two largest concerns.

Titans' cut list

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
6:08
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky


The Titans’ official list of cuts:

DE Larry Birdine

LB Rocky Boiman

TE Casey Cramer

CB Tanard Davis

G Ryan Durand

CB DeMarcus Faggins

FB Rodney Ferguson

LB Ryan Fowler

RB Quinton Ganther (injured)

S Tuff Harris

WR Mark Jones

DT Mitch King

T Cory Lekkerkerker

WR Phillip Morris

TE Matthew Mulligan

G Jason Murphy

DT LaJuan Ramsey

S Nick Schommer

LB Josh Stamer

P A.J. Trapasso

OL Fernando Velasco

WR Paul Williams

Things to watch during Titans-Bucs

August, 15, 2009
8/15/09
4:05
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Three things I'll be looking at, beyond the inevitable Vince Young/ Patrick Ramsey analysis, while the Titans take on the Buccaneers Saturday night in Nashville:

1. Tempo and rhythm: Kerry Collins had a lot of slow starts in 2008 and we know he and the first team offense aren't going to play very long. Tennessee's offense looks to have significantly better personnel than Tampa Bay's defense. Can the Titans first-team offense find a good flow?

2. A corner to stand out. Has one of the four candidates to be the chief corner backup stepped forward yet? I've not been with the Titans for a while, but haven't heard any great buzz yet either about Cary Williams, DeMarcus Faggins, Ryan Mouton or Jason McCourty.

3. Young linebacker play. Ryan Fowler will start in the middle with Stephen Tulloch (knee) out. Josh Stamer probably works with the twos in David Thornton's spot on the left with Stanford Keglar taking over for Keith Bulluck on the right. Rookie Gerald McRath should see significant time outside as well. Keglar or McRath could have a big opportunity in a year if Bulluck's not re-signed. Do either show signs?

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Michael Lombardi assesses who's blue chip or nearly so in the AFC South. No mention of Eric Winston or David Stewart but Reggie Nelson makes the list?

Houston Texans

  • Dominique Barber is beginning to challenge for a starting safety spot, writes Jordan Godwin. That's good news at a position that needs to be upgraded.
  • Bruce Matthews is helping candidates to snap better, says the Chronicle notebook.
  • Three starters are sidelined by injuries. Is it a bad run of early luck or a sign of things to come? John McClain considers.
  • Battleredblog.com wonders if Ryan Torain could be Houston-bound. I speculated during the offseason that the Texans could jump on him if he came free from Denver, but now he's hurt so it may change the interest level.
  • The Chronicle's camp insider has several nuggets.
  • Lance Zierlein breaks down five Texans.
  • Brian Cushing's injury history prompts Alan Burge to reserve the right to be concerned.

Indianapolis Colts

  • The Colts' defense is the same scheme with new wrinkles and Reggie Wayne says it's very different, writes Mike Chappell.
  • The Colts can't say when Bob Sanders will play, says Chappell.
  • Indy feels like it will run better this season, writes Tom James. There might be an AFC South Blog column coming Thursday that delves into a similar theme.
  • Peter King's postcard from Colts camp.
  • Chappell takes questions about Sanders, Tony Ugoh and Terrance Taylor.
  • Donald Brown has impressed with his professionalism, says John Oehser.
  • Two Colts fans enjoyed lunch with Bill Polian and Peter King after winning an auction that benefitted Dr. Z, says Phillip B. Wilson.
  • A practice report pieced together by stampedeblue.com.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

  • Donnie Nickey and Ryan Fowler each got hit with $5,000 fines for hits in the Hall of Fame game, reports Jim Wyatt.
  • Vince Young's agent said the quarterback could be willing to play for less than scheduled in 2010 if that's what it takes, reports Terry McCormick. Is it the right time for Major Adams to touch on this topic? I sure don't think so.
  • Don Banks' postcard from Nashville. (Aren't these more like letters? Great reads and the more beef the better, but on a postcard the print would have to be tiny to fit 1,409 words. Yes, I spent my morning counting them.)
  • Returner Mark Jones is back in action and Kenny Britt is going to get a look, says Wyatt.
  • Craig Stevens was in four scraps during a Wednesday practice, says McCormick. Is that a record?
  • Vincent Fuller has joined the injured list, says Wyatt.
  • Wyatt and Gary Estwick offer their stock report.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- I took a great interest in a drill Sunday that pitted linebackers against running backs in a pass protection scenario.

I thought Stephen Tulloch was especially impressive going against the Titans running backs in the team's first practice in shoulder pads.

Here's a mini-breakdown of some of the matchups:

After practice, I was considering my notes/scorecard and sought clarification from running back coach Earnest Byner on what amounted to a win on a snap of the drill.

"If a guy gets good contact, shows the ability to get on a guy and then tries to run him by, that's pretty good," he said. "In that drill, the defense is supposed to win. That's really a defensive drill. If a guy can get any contact and maintain the contact for like two seconds, that's a win."

A couple important notes for context:

If they weren't on the line of scrimmage, the backs lined up very close to it. In game situations they wouldn't be so close to the defender they need to block at the snap. At a practice the backs are without one major tool -- the cut block that would take a linebacker's legs out and put him on the ground. Ganther said ideally a back will push the rusher outside, buying a quarterback who is stepping up in the pocket additional time.

"It's much easier in a game," Byner said. "You have the ability to cut block, you have the ability to use your line a little more. If you can block in that drill, the game is easy. I thought the guys did well. They sit tight, hard to the defender. I wanted that. I didn't want them to sit and be cautious and not do anything. I wanted the aggression, and I was pleased with that. We can learn from that."

Some other practice observations:

  • Cornerback Tanard Davis, who finished last year on the practice squad, had a strong afternoon and has been good so far, though working against lesser players. He muscled his way in front of Chris Davis to intercept a short Vince Young pass in one-on-ones. Later, in a team period he moved in front of Paul Williams to grab another pass from Young.
  • Rob Bironas, who was due back from his mystery injury, did not return. Fisher continued to decline to say what the injury was, on a day when Kenny Britt talked openly about the right hamstring that landed him on PUP. If Bironas' injury is so insignificant, than why wouldn't it be shared? It gives us all reason to believe something odd is up.
  • Britt is still dealing with a right hamstring issue, so he starts out on the PUP list. Fisher didn't quite rule Britt out of the Hall of Fame Game against Buffalo, but said it's "probably unlikely." Britt sounded pretty upbeat. Fisher made it sound as if a week would be the most Britt misses.
  • Jared Cook went to the ground to scoop a Young pass. He has made a lot of catches on the run or going up to get the ball, and I took note that he also looked comfortable going to the ground.
  • During a two minute drill period, a sliding Nate Washington caught a Kerry Collins pass on the right with Chris Hope and Nick Harper closing. It was too close to call as to whether Washington had his right knee down in bounds before his left leg crossed the sideline. Both sides pleaded with Fisher, who got a shout out from Hope when he came to a quick verdict and the sides "split the difference" on the gain. The drive produced an Alge Crumpler touchdown catch.
  • Paul Williams made a very nice, spinning, leaping sideline catch.
  • Jovan Haye stepped up and crushed Henry on a carry the back tried to take up the middle.
  • Ringer looks a lot better in pads, and a lot better than he did in OTAs.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

The Titans had only publicly released the first week of their training camp schedule before Tuesday, when they passed out the whole slate.

As usual, practices are subject to change due to weather and when the team is forced inside to work, there is no room for fans.

Here's a list of the practices open to the public. The remote parking and shuttle from previous years is kaput, which is good news. Fans will be able to park CVS/Caremark corporate offices at 445 Great Circle Road across the street from team headquarters.

Division Camp Previews
Tuesday: NFC North | AFC North
Wednesday: NFC East | AFC East
Thursday: NFC South | AFC South
Friday: NFC West | AFC West

MORE
Camp battles: AFC | NFC

Schedule: Training camp dates

Friday, July 31 -- 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 1 -- 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 2 -- 3:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 3 -- 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 4 -- 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, Aug. 6 -- 3:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 7 -- 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 11 -- 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 12 -- 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 13 -- 3:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 17 -- 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 18 -- 8:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 19 -- 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 23 -- 3:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 24 -- 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 25 -- Noon

Wednesday, Aug. 26 -- 3:30 p.m.

The following training camp autograph schedule is subject to change without notice, Designated players are schduled to sign after the practice indicated:

Friday, July 31 - 3:30 PM Practice
Justin Gage, Stephen Tulloch, Josh Stamer, LaJuan Ramsey, Jared Cook

Saturday, Aug. 1 - 3:30 PM Practice
Keith Bulluck, Chris Johnson, DeMarcus Faggins, Tanard Davis, Gerald McRath

Sunday, Aug. 2 - 3:30 PM Practice
Vince Young, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Craig Stevens, Derrick Jones, Ryan Mouton

Monday, Aug. 3 - 3:30 PM Practice
Alge Crumpler, Jacob Ford, Cary Williams, Jason Murphy, A.J. Trapasso

Tuesday, Aug. 4 - 8:30 AM Practice
Michael Roos, Ryan Fowler, Kevin Vickerson, Matthew Mulligan, Phillip Morris

Thursday, Aug. 6 - 3:30 PM Practice
Nick Harper, David Stewart, Rafael Little, Cory Lekkerkerker, Jeremy Haynes

Friday, Aug. 7 - 3:30 PM Practice
Chris Hope, Lavelle Hawkins, Jovan Haye, Doug Datish, Dudley Guice

Players scheduled to sign autographs after Aug. 7 will be announced at a later date.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Let's play some post-holiday weekend catch up...

Houston Texans

  • With Antonio Smith out with a hamstring issue, Tim Bulman manned right defensive end like he owned it last week, writes Megan Manfull.
  • Several former Texans remain unsigned free agents, writes Alan Burge. You can always take that as a sign -- the rest of the league didn't place much value on your guys.
  • What sort of impact can Brian Cushing have? Jim McCurdy wonders.
  • Rashad Butler needs to be ready to back up both offensive tackles, says Burge.
  • A look at Houston's late-round draft picks, from Jesse Rios.

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Tennessee Titans

A Titans' OTA look-in

May, 21, 2009
5/21/09
2:33
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans' rookies mixed with the veterans for the first time Tuesday. Thursday's second go-round was open to the media.

Here's what I saw that I found to be of interest:

Receivers: First-round pick Kenny Britt had hamstring tightness and did just the individual period and a bit of red zone work. Nate Washington was excused and Lavelle Hawkins was also limited. That gave Chris Davis a chance at a lot of first-team snaps and he took advantage with a solid day. While he had one bad drop, he also had one nice stretching reach for a catch in a seam with no concern for what defenders were approaching (they were late anyway).

Davis knows he's on the hot seat and that his fate could depend on winning one or both of the return jobs. But quarterback Kerry Collins said Davis has improved as much as anyone, a real public pat on the back.

Different strokes: The practice was largely focused on red zone work, and in an early period the quarterbacks threw balls from about 12 yards out to the pylon, over the receivers' outside shoulder as offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger offered very detailed instructions and assessments.

Fourth-stringer Alex Mortensen, an undrafted rookie, got an earful after he threw one well inside of where Heimerdinger wanted them and was told it was an interception if there was coverage. Vince Young threw a very similar ball and Heimerdinger asked that it be "a little more outside."

That's the difference between being the third pick in the draft and a camp body. It was one snapshot; I don't want to overvalue it. Young could be regularly getting yelled at when he does things wrong. But this instance struck me as one of those baby-him moments that haven't served him well in the big picture.

Double duty: Third-round tight end Jared Cook split time in one period, working with the tight ends against linebackers for a while before joining receivers to go against corners. He's a specimen, and if he can avoid the drops -- he had some, even with defenders tugging on him -- he sure looks like a guy who can be a weapon.

Ball-security message: After the last OTA I saw, LenDale White talked about how he is still haunted by his costly fumble in the playoff loss to Baltimore. So I was struck when he joined the coaches' chorus urging guys to lock the ball up. Maybe that's a topic he should stay quiet for now.

Dropsies: Running backs did not catch the ball particularly well. I saw drops by Chris Johnson and Quinton Ganther and a bobble that may have turned a pass into an incompletion by rookie Javon Ringer.

Justin Gage: Justin Gage looks good. He made the sort of aggressive play Titans receivers too often lack when he snatched what looked to be a Cortland Finnegan interception away from the cornerback for a touchdown from about 12 yards out. Later Gage made a nice play to stop and cut in front of overmatched rookie corner Jeremy Haynes for another TD reception from Collins.

Rowdy: Tight end Matthew Mulligan and linebacker Ryan Fowler brawled during a special-teams period, with Mulligan attempting to knee Fowler in the belly or chest. Both landed several blows and their helmets came off, but it ended when they both stood with their hands in fighting position waiting for the second round. Mulligan told Colin Allred, a linebacker a good distance away, how he wasn't going to back down.

Right tackle David Stewart and defensive lineman Larry Birdine also came to blows. The fights and some other intense moments gave the session the feel of a second-week training camp practice, not the second full-team OTA.

Titans OTA observations

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
2:42
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Some quick observations from the Titans' practice this morning. It was veterans only, no rookies.

  • LenDale White has lost weight and looks much fitter. I will have a post with more on how he looks and what he said a bit later, but it seems like a light has gone on for him and he's taking some of the advice he's been getting for a few years seriously now.
  • Nate Washington's speed has not been over-advertized. He made a nice catch on a deep ball from Kerry Collins when he streaked about 25 yards downfield, then cut to the sideline. He caught the ball and held on even as he banged into the pads set up to surround the base of a portable video tower. Later in a one-on-one rep against Cortland Finnegan, he cut to the middle against press coverage on a short route and dropped a catchable ball.
  • Cary Williams, a seventh-round pick from last season, worked ahead of veteran addition DeMarcus Faggins with Nick Harper out of team work as he continues to rehab from abdomen/groin surgery. But that's likely due to system seniority as much as anything.
  • Vince Young threw a fantastic deep ball to Lavelle Hawkins on the right sideline that Hawkins did great work to corral over his right shoulder. It was on the opposite side of the field from where I was standing, but Hawkins said later he was in bounds. Young also threw at least two picks, one to Ryan Fowler in the middle of the field that was either a very poor decision or a blown route and another that was tipped by the intended receiver or a linebacker and wound up in the arms of Vincent Fuller. Don't want to read too much into either, but Young was pointing at himself after one bad throw and had a mellow and straightforward session with reporters after practice.
  • Hawkins had another nice catch, diving to pull in a pass in the middle of the field.
  • Fuller got a rave review for a one-on-one play in which he broke up a pass intended for Hawkins. Defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson told Fuller it was "textbook."
  • Patrick Ramsey showed a strong arm but hardly looked great. He was intercepted by corner Christian Morton on a ball intended for Hawkins.
  • I can't say it enough -- I love fullback Ahmard Hall with the ball in his hands. He caught a short little pass to the left and turned the corner with authority and speed that continues to surprise me.
  • Titans quarterbacks seemed to work a lot out of the shotgun.
  • Keith Bulluck and Tony Brown were excused absences. Kevin Mawae, Jevon Kearse, Jacob Ford and Ulrich Winkler didn't practice as they continue to rehab injuries. (Jim Wyatt reports Kearse recently had a knee scoped.) Harper and Dave Ball didn't work past the position-specific period.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Cornerback Jarrett Bush will not be the newest Tennessee Titan. ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports Green Bay has matched the three-year offer sheet, ensuring Bush remains a member of the Packers.

The Titans were looking for Bush to help replenish depth in the secondary.

Starting cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper are locked in, and the Titans re-signed nickelback Vincent Fuller, who was an unrestricted free agent.

But beyond that the team lost Eric King to Detroit and Chris Carr to Baltimore and has shown no interest in bringing back free agent Reynaldo Hill.

The Titans like Cary Williams, a seventh-round pick out of Washburn in 2008, who was on the practice squad for the bulk of the season before playing in one game last season, then finishing on injured reserve.

The Titans have successfully signed a restricted free agent with no compensation attached the last two years -- linebacker Ryan Fowler from Dallas in 2007 and Carr from Oakland in 2008.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

The Titans don't write monster checks to other teams' free agents on the first day of free agency. We all know that. But they're hardly alone in being conservative. Peter King wrote this week about how Green Bay's assistant coaches had the first weekend of free agency off -- the Packers weren't going to be players in the early market either.

There are miles between free agency conservatism and doing nothing.

And I've been shocked at the e-mails I've gotten and the talk on Nashville radio that give great amplitude to the idea that the Titans "do nothing" in free agency, that they are cheap and unwilling to pay quality players.

If they are cheap to steer away from the kind of guarantees and total package that Albert Haynesworth got in Washington, then, yes, they are cheap.

Personally, I think they are pretty well built. You have to be to go 13-3, no matter the schedule or the playoff failure.

This is a team that's been able to overcome gaffes like Pacman Jones and Vince Young, misses like Chris Henry and Paul Williams, weak additions like Justin McCareins and Ryan Fowler and misfortunes like David Givens.

There is a long way between cheap and fiscally prudent.

Cheap teams don't bring in quality veterans from outside like Kevin Mawae, Chris Hope, David Thornton and Nick Harper. Cheap teams don't step up to re-sign Kerry Collins, Rob Bironas and Vincent Fuller or put a franchise tag on Bo Scaife. Cheap teams don't bring in Nate Washington and Jovan Haye to try to patch holes and upgrade positions -- to deals worth a combined $8.55 million in each of the next four years.

Are you cheap or are you smart if you lock up Cortland Finnegan, Michael Roos and David Stewart well in advance of free agency while their prices are still reasonable?

The Titans make their fair share of mistakes in personnel, for sure. Imagine if they hadn't blown the No. 6 and No. 3 overall draft picks as they rebuilt?

But the idea that they are afraid to write a check or lock up very good players is just inaccurate.

People getting all bent out of shape over the Titans' absence from big-ticket free agency should take note that while the Redskins win a lot in February and March, like most good teams the Titans are more concerned with November and December.

Update: A clarification on Fowler after hearing from some of you. It was too strong to group him with McCareins under the heading of weak additions. I don't think he performed to the expectations of the contract, but he is not a bad player. It was a rare instance, however, where a youngster pushed through a veteran when Stephen Tulloch took over as the starting middle linebacker just four games into the 2008 season.

 
  Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
  Titans quarterback Kerry Collins was under constant pressure from Baltimore's defense.

 Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans were convinced nobody liked them. They were an unappreciated small-market team, a workmanlike bunch that lacked the gloss or controversy that sells or attracts attention.

As the hype around the Baltimore Ravens grew, they grumbled.

Then, on their home field with a chance to quiet the critics -- real or imagined -- they produced a dud similar in scope to the last time when they were the AFC's No. 1 seed.

With large statistical advantages across the board, they handed the ball away three times, missed a field goal, gave up a big pass play on each of Baltimore's three scoring drives and watched the Ravens, a wild-card team driven by defense, win 13-10 and celebrate on their turf just as they did in January 2001.

"We had a chance to prove our critics and our doubters wrong and we just didn't do it," defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "It erases a great regular season. I think there are a lot of great things we take away from the season, but ultimately we are judged as players on what we do in the postseason and we just came up empty."

"I guess you all proved us wrong," Albert Haynesworth said. "I felt like we definitely should have won this game, it shouldn't have been close. But the way things turned out, too many mistakes and not enough time."

Jeff Fisher, the league's longest-tenured coach, is now 5-6 in the playoffs, with a first-game loss in three of his six playoff seasons.

  Ravens-Titans highlights
  NFL.com Video
  Highlights of the Ravens' 13-10 victory over the Titans on Saturday.

"He just felt for everybody, he knew that everyone was hurting," special-teamer and backup linebacker Ryan Fowler said. "He expressed his gratitude and his sorrow for the team. He said this was one of those things that was going to be hard to get over, but we'll get over it eventually and see you guys on Monday."

Players talked about the magnitude of the lost opportunity and recounted their mistakes.

Running back LenDale White lost a fumble just before halftime, with the Titans in range of a field goal that would have put them ahead 10-7.

"The momentum with the fumble that I had before the half, if we'd have been able to get three points right there, probably could have boosted us up in the second half," White said. "So I am definitely taking the blame for losing this game. I feel like I could have stepped up a lot more, I could have held on to the ball and gave us momentum going into the second half."

He said a 10-game Ravens-Titans series would produce nine Tennessee wins.

Tight end Alge Crumpler spoke softly of a pass he coughed up near the goal line and the disappointment of the sudden ending.

"This is the sickest feeling I ever had," he said. "This team was ready to take the next step. I firmly believed this was a Super Bowl team and felt the magic when I first walked in the locker room. This hurts because we didn't get it done.''

Strong safety Chris Hope was unable to make a play on the Ravens' two longest pass connections -- he was late to get to Derrick Mason on a 48-yard touchdown pass and got mixed up with Cortland Finnegan on a 37-yard pass to Mark Clayton.

Finnegan, a recently anointed All-Pro, said the Ravens tried to avoid him but probably shouldn't have.

"The one time they went to me, they got action," he said with a forced laugh. "I would have kept going at me."

Eight seasons ago, in very similar circumstances, a Titans team that included only three of the same players statistically dominated Baltimore and watched its Super Bowl hopes disappear in a fourth-quarter collapse.

Leading up to this game, those players dismissed that history and talked of writing a new ending.

Instead they allowed the Ravens an encore.

Fisher will review the season in a Monday news conference when players clean out their lockers. By then, he will have found multiple ways to spin things positively. His team overachieved and surpassed expectations, but as it did, it gained the most advantageous position and setup possible. It was an eight-year wait from the last time they were in this spot, and if it's another eight, who knows who might be left to recount this experience and cross fingers that Baltimore isn't the opponent.

"All the hard work you did, all the dreams you had at the beginning of the season just go down the drain in one game," Hope said. "The thing is that you don't have the same team next year, nothing is guaranteed."

Quarterback Kerry Collins said: "Right now, it's hard to feel good about this year. I know we really accomplished a lot, put ourselves in position to make a run at it. But when you fall short it's hard to see the positives. I know there are some, I think we all need to realize that, but it's disappointing to end like this. To think that we'll feel any better about it because of our regular season I think is not going to be the case."

 
  Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
  Referee Terry McAulay and his officiating team were at the center of some questionable calls in Baltimore's 13-10 win over Tennessee.

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- To their credit, the Titans did not spend a lot of time in the postgame locker room carping about the officiating.

My blogging colleague Tim Graham covered the pool report that got "explanations" from referee Terry McAulay. But as the two key plays will be debated for a while, here's a review of the plays from the Titans' perspective:

The safety that wasn't?

On third-and-10 from the Titans 1-yard line with 7:39 left in the game, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco rolled to his right in the back of the end zone and it appeared his foot grazed the back line -- which would have been a safety that cut the Ravens lead to 10-9 and would have given the Titans the ball back in good field position.

"I think my foot wrapped around and came back in bounds," Flacco said, before referring to a famous blooper from a Detroit quarterback this season in a similar scenario. "I almost pulled a Dan Orlovsky. I don't think I was out. The only place I saw it was on the big screen and it's not really zoomed in there. I wasn't out because they didn't call it."

Said Titans strong safety Chris Hope: "It's over now, but from my angle I thought he stepped on the line too. That one or two plays could change the ball game but still we had enough plays on our own that we could have made that would have won the game for us."

Delayed delay of game?

On third-and-2 from the Baltimore 32 with 2:51 remaining, Flacco didn't take the snap until after the play clock had hit zero. He hit tight end Todd Heap down the middle for a 23-yard gain.

Asked if he was aware of the development, Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said: "No, but the referee should have been aware and that's their job and if they missed that, that's unfortunate. That was a big play, that was a critical down... and they converted. So if it did expire, I wasn't aware, but that's their job to make that call. So if they feel it didn't expire, it didn't expire."

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he was told the call was not reviewable.

The Titans were hurt by a big personal foul call in their regular-season win in Baltimore, and Fisher said confidently such things would not be an issue Saturday.

Instead the Titans were called for 12 penalties worth 89 yards and a first down. The Titans committed three personal fouls in the game's first 21 minutes.

"I don't think it's a discipline issue," defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "It was an emotional game, we knew it was going to be, I think there are some personal fouls that could have gone both ways. This is a mature team and we haven't made many mistakes in the past and I don't know that they killed us today."

But Ryan Fowler, a special teamer and backup linebacker, had a little different take.

"Clearly there is a discipline issue," he said. "This game [against the Ravens] I guess has historically had quite a bit of passion and emotion in it. These two teams have some history dating back to even before the millennium. I think any time these teams get together and there is a heightened sense of emotion on top of a playoff game, then, yeah, you're going to have a lot of emotion and what you have to do is really be in check and really be in control of your emotion. Yeah, discipline and emotion were a bit of an issue, you put all that stuff together and that's what happens."

Bulluck said he thought the officials let the Ravens get away with some stuff.

"Also, they let a lot of stuff go as far as the Ravens being extra physical after the snap and throwing fouls on us," Bulluck said. "You don't want to go there. The season's over. I don't want the NFL taking any of my offseason money."

Fisher oversold plan for starters

December, 28, 2008
12/28/08
1:40
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jeff Fisher said throughout the season that he intended to play his guys through the season, even in a game that didn't have playoff implications.

On defense, I guess that means safeties Donnie Nickey and Tuff Harris, cornerback Tyrone Poole and linebackers Ryan Fowler and Colin Allred qualify as his guys.

I won't count anything on the defensive line against him, as the Titans are without the injured Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Dave Ball. But among the healthy guys in the back seven, four -- Michael Griffin, Chris Hope, Cortland Finnegan and Keith Bulluck -- have already been pulled.

This is fine and probably the right thing to do. I just wish Fisher hadn't spent so much time and effort selling how he wasn't going to do it this way this quickly.

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