NFL Nation: Mike Otto

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Bob Babich doubled up, Will Blackmon stepped up, and the Tennessee Titans went down.

Babich called the same pressure package on back-to-back pass plays late in the fourth quarter and Blackmon came through with the biggest play of the season by stripping Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and returning the ball for what turned out to be the game-clinching touchdown in the Jaguars' 29-22 victory at LP Field.

On each play, Blackmon blitzed from the slot. The first time, on second-and-9 from the Tennessee 30-yard line, right tackle Mike Otto picked him up and Blackmon didn’t get close. But the pressure from the defensive line did affect Fitzpatrick’s throw, which fell incomplete.

Blackmon came again on the next play, and this time Otto didn’t pick him up and Blackmon got a clear path to Fitzpatrick. He ripped the ball from Fitzpatrick’s hands and ran 21 yards for a touchdown to give the Jaguars a 29-20 lead with 2:32 to play.

"The second time I kind of held my disguise a little bit and ended up blitzing and he [Otto] didn’t see me at all," Blackmon said. "I tried to go in. I saw Fitzpatrick step up and that’s where I was able to go ahead and go after the ball.

"He bobbled it and he was trying to pick it back up and I just took it out of his hands."

Fitzpatrick still isn’t sure what happened.

"I don’t know if it bounced on the ground or if he just ripped it out or what happened," he said. "Obviously, I saw him running but I can’t let that happen in that situation."

That was the fourth turnover the Jaguars forced on Sunday and it made Blackmon look a little like a prophet. Before the game he wrote down several goals on a small piece of paper and put it in his sack. One was to get a victory for first-year coach Gus Bradley. Another was to force a fumble.

After the game, Blackmon showed reporters the crumpled-up piece of paper.

"I’m not saying all my goals. One of them was one caused fumble, he said. "I’ll show you that, too. See right there: 'I will have one caused fumble.' [Another goal is]: 'We will win as a team.'"

My 53-man Tennessee Titans roster

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
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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. -- The offensive line the Tennessee Titans expect to lead their revitalization worked (mostly) together for a bit over a quarter Thursday night.

The identity change is underway, but hardly complete.

The offensive line is going to be the backbone of this team, but in its work with four of five starters in place, it had mixed results against Washington in what wound up being a 22-21 loss at LP Field.

The line freed Chris Johnson for a 58-yard touchdown sprint and Shonn Greene for a 19-yard scoring run. But it also allowed for two sacks of Jake Locker, as Chance Warmack was badly beaten on Locker’s second drop back and Michael Roos later gave up a sack to Brian Orakpo, who had an easy time dipping past the blocker and getting to the quarterback.

Warmack pulled and made a nice block on a defensive back on Greene’s score -- "an RBI block,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains called it. Warmack looked good when he got to the second level. But he was frequently pushed back by Washington defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins and looked to be flat-footed and too high too often on other plays where his man didn’t necessarily wind up doing any damage.

He’s certainly allowed time to settle in. And he was playing beside tackle Mike Otto, not David Stewart, who was rested in his first chance at game action since he suffered a broken leg late last season.

“There were some things I did that I thought I could get away with in terms of technique and I learned that you’ve got to use it a little bit differently,” Warmack said, specifically mentioning one play, 22-Power, where he didn’t approach the nose tackle correctly.

Rob Turner started at center and is part of a competition with incumbent Fernando Velasco and rookie Brian Schwenke who’s out with a hamstring injury.

Tennessee’s still got a lot of room for improvement before it earns that ID.

“I think we took a step in that direction,” Roos said. “We had some big runs, we had a lot of short-yardage second downs, third downs and shorts where we’re running power or whatever we need to run and getting those first downs.

“That’s part of the identity, knowing we want to run it, they know we want to run it, and being able to do it and getting that first down. We were better running than in the pass, we’ve been working on it so much, making it back to our identity, smash mouth. First preseason game, usually the pass game is a little rusty. I think it was not great. We’ll have time to keep working at it and keep the chemistry moving in the right direction.”

Some other observations ...

Locker’s night: Locker’s decision-making was OK, but the two sacks in 25 plays didn’t help him get anything going. I don’t know that he could have done much to avoid either as they developed so quickly. His first pass, down the middle to Kenny Britt, should have been picked off by rookie cornerback David Amerson but bounced off his forearm. Kendall Wright hurt him with a drop (see more in a bit).

Seven completions in 11 passes for 58 yards and a 77.1 rating. Hopefully he picks up on the practice progress he’s been making and is able to do more in Cincinnati on Aug. 17th.

Loggains said he was pleased and that Washington’s soft zone forced the Titans underneath and Locker didn’t force things.

CJ’s home run: Johnson found open field when he cut back from right to left and then inside rookie safety Baccari Rambo, who wobbled at the move.

“I think last year [Johnson] was trying to make too many big plays, bouncing it,” Loggains said. “When he got in the open field on the rookie safety Rambo, he got vertical. He put his foot in the ground and he just outran everyone.

"That’s the CJ we know, the speed that he showed he still has. As long as he does that and continues to take coaching, he’s going to have a big year.”

Run defense: The Titans' run defense is another element of this team that is supposed to be a lot better. It wasn’t very good in this game. Defenders were pushed around at times and didn’t seem to consistently and collectively fight off blocks to get free and get to the ball carrier.

Roy Helu had a 4.4-yard average as the primary Washington running back in the first half with 13 carries.

“That’s too much,” Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan said. “ We have to do a better job of fitting up and tackling.”

Drops: Wright killed a drive with a drop in the flat when Locker delivered the ball in a spot where the receiver was going to have a lot of room to run with it on a third-and-3 from near midfield.

Loggains had given Locker and Wright advance warning that they’d use that play on an upcoming third-and-short.

“[Wright] took off running before he caught it,” Loggains said. “That’s not going to happen very often.”

Michael Preston dropped a third-down pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick that ended the first drive after halftime.

Off coverage: I look forward to seeing the increased press coverage the Titans have talked about from their corners. They didn’t use it in the first half of this game, largely lining up off.

It doesn’t mean anything more than it’s what they decided to use on this with their starters. They were tighter in second half. But Tommie Campbell was nothing special, off or on.
Ropati Pitoitua and Sammie HillAP PhotoRopati Pitoitua and Sammie Hill add some much-needed weight to the Titans' defensive line.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Mike Munchak was promoted to coach of the Tennessee Titans in 2011, one of the first things his new defensive coordinator, Jerry Gray, talked about was the need for the team to get bigger.

The Titans had been a pretty good pass-rushing team. Smaller, quicker rushers may have been getting to the passer, but the team’s run defense had slipped. Adding stouter players would bolster the run defense and help everything, the Titans reasoned.

Heading into the third season of the Munchak regime, the franchise has made headway in getting bigger up front on defense.

“I really feel we have a lot of pieces in place that ... Jerry wanted, and the defensive staff wanted,” Munchak said. “You can’t always get what you want in this league.”

In 2011, the Titans’ 90-man roster included 15 defensive linemen who totaled 4,232 pounds.

Now they’ve got 16 who total 4,591.

The average weight per defensive player has risen from 282 to 287 pounds.

More significantly, Sammie Hill, who will start at defensive tackle, and Ropati Pitoitua, who should be in the rotation of defensive ends, are much bigger than players the Titans have deployed at those spots in recent years.

Hill joined the team as a free-agent addition from Detroit. Only undrafted guard Oscar Johnson (330) weighs more than Hill’s listed 329 on the Tennessee roster. Pitoitua is an imposing 6-foot-8. At 315, he’s the Titans' heaviest end -- by 38 pounds.

“I feel good about our size,” Titans defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said. “It’s a big man’s game. They’ve made some big changes with free agency with Sam Hill, Ropati and Antonio Johnson coming in. It’s on both sides of the ball, the offensive and defensive lines.”

Antonio Johnson is listed at 310, but he said recently he’s at about 330. Rocker said the Titans want him to play at 325 or 330.

In Hill, the Titans found a young player they believe can blossom if given a bigger role than the one he had with the Lions, where he was behind Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Though he should draw regular double teams, he’s not simply a space eater. He’s got good feet for a man his size and is expected to penetrate and help move the quarterback off his spot, which will benefit the rush ends.

“I can get off the ball for the big guy that I am,” Hill said. “I try to be real disruptive. ... I don’t like to look at myself as just that big guy who occupies space. I like to get in there and cause havoc and disrupt the pocket and all that.”

Hill said he’s played as big as 343 and as light as 325, but doesn’t believe he’s sacrificed strength when he’s been smaller. He expects to play between 330 and 338 for the Titans. Any NFL player that size is carrying a little extra. But Hill is not fat. He said a preferred meal is a couple of baked chicken breasts with rice, and he doesn’t eat sweets.

In speaking with him, I learned that he drinks 3 1/2 to four gallons of water a day, an amount that surely would drown many of his teammates.

When you look at Pitoitua, it’s hard not to think: If the low man wins, how does he ever win?

He said his biggest disadvantage is his height, but the length that comes with it is his biggest advantage.

Said Rocker: “With him, it’s leverage. With the length of his arms, that changes the game for a lot of people facing him. And if you can recall, when the Giants played New England in the Super Bowl, it wasn’t so much that they sacked Tom Brady. There were a lot of tall people in there. You had a lot of trees in there, and it was hard for Tom Brady to complete passes. Ropati creates those things for us and can cause disruptions. We see him as a big-time run-stopper and a ball disruption guy.”

Offensive tackle Michael Otto’s been facing Pitoitua in organized team activities.

“He’s a big, strong dude,” Otto said. “He’s not somebody you’re going to blow off the ball and throw on his back. You’re fighting him the whole time, you just push. A stalemate is pretty good so long as he isn’t getting any penetration.”

If Pitoitua and fifth-round rookie Lavar Edwards (277) pan out, they can help chop down the snap counts of starting ends Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley. They both played more than 80 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last season, which is far too much.

Rocker said that ideally, the Titans would be on the field 60 to 75 snaps a game, and guys such as Morgan and Hill would play 45 of them. That would be 60 to 75 percent.

Although the league is increasingly about good quarterbacks and stopping them, slowing the run helps a defense in its ability to focus on the QB.

That’s a primary reason the Titans wanted to be bigger.

They play in a division where they will see Arian Foster and Maurice Jones-Drew twice, as well as a Colts team that is determined to run more and better.

They also will see Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore this season.

A season after giving up 4.2 yards a carry, that bigger defense needs to have bigger games when it comes to stopping the run.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at key players for each AFC South team who are coming back from injuries:

Houston Texans: There isn’t an easy, obvious fit here. Inside linebacker Brian Cushing is crucial, but all indications are he’s already largely back from the torn ACL he suffered early last season and will be good to go for training camp. Receiver DeVier Posey will be lucky if he makes it back by midseason from a torn Achilles, and they aren’t counting on him for 2013. Brooks Reed had groin surgery and Daryl Sharpton is still recovering from a hip operation. But the most uncertainty seems to involve right tackle Derek Newton. The Texans drafted Brennan Williams in the third round to have a viable alternative to a guy who had serious knee surgery after the season.

Indianapolis Colts: Josh Chapman was a fifth-round pick in 2012, available there because he was recovering from a serious knee injury. Some Colts fans, while they clearly wanted Chapman healthy and on the field, turned his absence into a bit of a punch line regarding the degree of hope being pinned on the nose tackle by some optimists: “Oh, Josh Chapman will fix that when he’s back.” Well he’s back now, working as the starting nose tackle, a position where the team has some depth with guys who have played the spot in a 3-4 front. Chapman can offer a nice boost to a defensive front if he is recovered and durable.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew is likely to be the team’s top offensive weapon again, provided he makes it all the way back from a serious Lisfranc injury in his right foot that cost him 10 games last season and ultimately required surgery. His extensive rehabilitation is ongoing. This week at OTAs, The Florida Times-Union reported he was running 30-yard dashes at three-quarter speed. "Lately it's been one day on, a day off, two days on, a day off -- it's part of the process," he said. "I'm closer than I think. I just want to take my time and make sure we do it the right way." The Jags need his production. He needs a big year because he's in the final year of his deal.

Tennessee Titans: Right tackle David Stewart broke his right leg in Week 13 against Houston. He’s expected to be fine for camp, and perhaps even the team’s June OTAs and minicamp, but he said recently at a team event that he still had a little bit to go. He’s been a durable guy for them. But they took a look at Eric Winston after the draft. Such a visit can mean nothing, or it can mean they would be willing to put Stewart into a competitive situation. I rank Stewart ahead of middle linebacker Colin McCarthy because the team can be OK with Greg Jones or Moise Fokou as a run-down middle linebacker. If Mike Otto and Byron Stingily wound up the right tackle on a largely rebuilt offensive line, it would create a bigger question mark.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Who is one highly drafted or highly paid player from each AFC South team who needs to show something during the remainder of the offseason?

Houston Texans: I can’t find a highly paid or highly drafted player who could be in jeopardy. Shiloh Keo was a fifth-round draft pick in 2011 and ranked as a Wade Phillips favorite. Keo played in every game last year, even seeing time as the often-used third safety when Quintin Demps fell out of favor. But Keo is limited, primarily because he’s slow. The Texans replaced Glover Quin with Ed Reed, which doesn’t really affect the bottom of the safety depth chart. Demps is an unsigned free agent who won’t be back. Second-round pick D.J. Swearinger will be the third safety. Keo and Eddie Pleasant are the fourth and fifth safeties now, and the team had five on the roster at the end of last season. But a good player at the back end of another position could prompt them to keep just four, which could put the limited Keo in jeopardy if he doesn’t perform well in camp.

Indianapolis Colts: A team that didn’t have a true nose tackle option last season because of injuries and personnel deficiencies will have a glut this summer if everyone remains healthy. Now they have Aubrayo Franklin and 2012 fifth-rounder Josh Chapman, who’s back from the knee injury that kept him out last year. They also have new fifth-round draft pick Montori Hughes as well as Ricky Jean Francois, a versatile lineman who can man the middle on occasion. I don’t expect Martin Tevaseu to stick, and if the rest of that pack remains healthy, one player who will need to have a solid camp to make his case to stay is Brandon McKinney, who’s due $1 million this year. Brought in as a free agent from Baltimore last year, he too is coming off a serious knee injury. He’s expected to be ready for camp but could have already lost some ground in organized team activities and minicamp.

Jacksonville Jaguars: While the Texans don’t have a highly paid or highly drafted veteran who could be in trouble because they have drafted well and their roster is solid, the Jaguars don’t really have one because they are young and largely unproven. They already parted with an expensive guy who wasn’t worth his contract in strong safety Dawan Landry. Tight and Marcedes Lewis ($4.2 million base this year) and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu ($1.8 million) are overpaid based on recent production, but the Jaguars have money and don’t have promising replacements for either.

Tennessee Titans: I don’t think right tackle David Stewart is in jeopardy. But he’s coming off a down year when he committed too many penalties, is recovering from a broken leg, has an ankle that seems to be a lingering concern and is due a $5 million base salary. I’m not sure Mike Otto or Byron Stingily, the team’s two primary backup tackles, are starting-caliber guys. But the team did visit with free agent Eric Winston, who worked with offensive line coach Bruce Matthews in Houston. If Winston remains on the market and Stewart doesn’t look ready to bounce back, perhaps the Titans would still consider adding Winston and allowing him to slug it out with Stewart. That could be an epic battle.
The scheme changed but the grand plan didn’t.

Otto
The 2012 Colts' defense would be keyed around Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis putting fear into quarterbacks, hitting them, stripping them and dictating pass protection.

As 3-4 outside linebackers in Chuck Pagano’s new front as opposed to the 4-3 that had long been in place, they’d come from less predictable places. That would make stopping them even more difficult.

But Freeney and Mathis have started just two games together. Freeney suffered a high ankle sprain early in the season opener, missed two games and hasn’t really looked like he’s back to form since.

Mathis sprained his right knee against the Packers and has missed the two ensuing games, though he returned to practice for at least some work today.

“You take the two premier players out and leave half of one, it’s obviously not going to be the same,” interim Colts coach Bruce Arians said of playing at time with just a limited strength Freeney instead of a full strength Freeney-Mathis combo.

The Titans and Matt Hasselbeck would be especially wary of the duo under any circumstances.

For this game it could be even a bigger issue.

Mike Otto is a veteran backup to Michael Roos, who had his appendix removed Monday. Roos hopes to keep his consecutive start streak of 119 alive, but said if he can't he can't.

Hand and knee injuries mean Otto hasn’t played yet this season, and could have his hands more than full if he’s subbing in his first work of the year.

The team just re-signed him in the offseason as its third tackle. In five seasons since he was a seventh-rounder out of Purdue, he's played in 41 games with two starts.

As he’s from Kokomo, Ind. and attended Purdue, he was plenty familiar with Freeney before he joined an AFC South team.

“Dwight Freeney is a special, special talent,” Otto said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’ve been watching him play for a very long time. When I was growing up in Indiana, I was watching the Colts, watching Freeney pass-rush, that’s kind of what you do.”

Otto went down briefly during practice causing a brief scare. Hasselbeck joked that in the past it would barely have registered. This time, for a short time, it certainly did.

How quickly can Roos recover?

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
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Titan left tackle Michael Roos had an appendectomy on Monday morning.

Will he be back and ready to matchup against Dwight Freeney, or Robert Mathis, of the Colts on Sunday?

I asked ESPN’s resident physical therapist Stephania Bell, who gave it a definite maybe.

“To me it seems tough to be able to do what he needs to do on the line that quickly,” she said. “I never say never with medicine … look at what some guys are doing these days. But it wouldn’t surprise me if he missed a week."

She pointed to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and baseball outfielder Matt Holliday for comparison.

Roethlisberger had an appendectomy Sept. 4, 2006. He missed the Steelers’ Thursday night season-opener but returned to action on Sept. 18.

Holliday returned to action in nine days in 2011.

“As a tackle, the demands are different," Bell said. “Lot of resistance work through the trunk."

It seems to me Roos has been playing better in recent weeks after a slow start. There will be a giant drop-off if the Titans have to turn to backup Mike Otto against Indianapolis.
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:

Titans
Steelers
HOUSTON -- Kendall Wright and Damian Williams will see increased time as targets for Jake Locker today as the Titans visit the Texans.

Kenny Britt is out with an ankle injury, putting a dent into Tennessee’s pass game, which will likely have to play well in order for the Titans to pull an upset.

The Texans remain healthy, and the only inactive of note is receiver Lestar Jean. His absence means DeVier Posey could get some chances, especially if they are ahead big.

The complete list of inactives:

Titans
Texans

Marks, Ringer are out for Titans

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
11:50
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Greetings from LP Field where the AFC South blog is very excited about getting the season kicked off.

The Titans will take on the Patriots without defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. Rookie Mike Martin will start in his spot. Also out is No. 2 running back Javon Ringer (elbow). Look for Darius Reynaud to get some work when Chris Johnson is out of the lineup, perhaps on third downs.

The Titans will have no advantage from warm weather -- it’s currently 70 degrees and the forecast says it will top out at 86.

The full list of inactives follows.

Titans:
Patriots:
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:

Preseason finale storylines

September, 1, 2011
9/01/11
6:54
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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.
Bruce Matthews and Kevin MatthewsAP Photo/Mark HumphreyTitans offensive line coach Bruce Matthews tries to stay objective about his son, Kevin Matthews.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The default answer for a father coaching his son is that he won’t treat his boy any differently than any of his other players.

And surely Titans offensive line coach Bruce Matthews will treat Titans center Kevin Matthews the same as the rest of his group.

At least until it comes time to cut that group down.

“It definitely harder on dad, I will never shed the dad mantle,” Bruce Matthews said. “As much as I want to be objective, I can’t be. I love the kid. I say that in all honesty, that’s just how it is. So I don’t know yet that I will abstain from giving an opinion on him. But he’s doing well and I am excited by that.”

Kevin Matthews came in last year as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M and played in the final three games, with one start, after time on the practice squad. He said he was amazed by the calm of his linemates in an eye-opening experience.

After the season his position coach and dad’s best friend, Mike Munchak, got promoted to the top job, and hired his father to take his place.

“I’m not getting any special treatment or anything which should be obvious as this level,” Kevin Matthews said. “We joke around a lot and have a lot of fun in the meeting rooms and on the practice field. Being able to work with him every day, I really enjoy it and I think he’s enjoying it a lot too.”

“To get to work with him at the highest level is like a dream come true.”

The Titans have a set starting line and a backup pool of tackles Mike Otto, Troy Kropog and rookie Byron Stingily, swingman Ryan Durand and interior guys Fernando Velasco and Matthews.

Father has urged son to make it an easy decision for the team.

Son said there is a second level of pressure to make it to stick with dad.

“I’m making as little as you can make, so I don’t think they’ve got a problem with the money,” he joked. “Being undrafted there is that extra little chip that I carry around. Obviously I am fighting to make this team. If it goes the other direction, we’ll handle it. Hopefully we won’t have to.”

The guys joke sometimes about what they can say in front of Kevin for fear it would make it to their coach, but it’s all in good fun.

“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” starting left guard Leroy Harris said. “That’s pretty cool.”

Michael Bush is inactive

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
12:13
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Four days after indicating to the Tennessee media that running back Michael Bush was on target to play in the season opener, Bush was among Oakland’s inactive players.

Bush broke his left thumb Aug. 28 in a preseason game against San Francisco. He practiced on a limited basis last week. However, the thumb clearly wasn’t healed enough for Bush to catch the ball and block effectively. Darren McFadden will start for Oakland.

McFadden missed much of training camp with a hamstring injury, but he has been healthy of late.

Other Oakland inactive players of note are receiver Chaz Schilens, who may be a few weeks away from playing after having arthroscopic knee surgery in August, and rookie offensive lineman Bruce Campbell, who appears to be out because of a coach’s decision.

Here are the complete inactive lists for both Oakland and Tennessee:

Oakland
Tennessee

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