NFL Nation: Robert Johnson

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- On an OTA day when tight end Delanie Walker was sitting out with a troublesome knee, I chatted with a high-ranking Titans person.

The defense won the day, but it wasn’t representative of where the offense stood, he said. And the offense is a lot different with Walker on the field.

We won’t see that offense for some time, now.

Walker had a knee scope a few weeks ago, largely to avoid the potential for any lingering issues.

Now he is on the physically unable to perform list as the Titans prepare for their first practice Thursday and coach Mike Munchak said the new tight end is likely to miss a couple weeks.

"Delanie missed three or four practices in the middle [of the offseason] with his knee being a little sore," Munchak said. "He finished with practicing in minicamp, actually looked good. We left here, we knew he had some soreness. I thought the time off would help him. It did, but he still didn't feel quite good enough."

The hope is he'll add a nice boost when he does return, and Munchak said it's a certainty that Walker will appear in preseason action.

“He’s a game-changer,” quarterback Jake Locker said. “He creates matchups for you inside and outside. He allows you to do some different things. He’s got a place. He’s explosive and dynamic, that’s not going to go away.”

Receiver Kevin Walter, who had back surgery, is expected to miss more time than Walker, a development that will help Marc Mariani get a maximum chance to make his case for a roster spot.

Walker and Walter are joined by safety Robert Johnson (foot) on PUP.
The Tennessee Titans have their first three OTA sessions in the next three days, and Friday’s is the first open to the media.

Tinkering, particularly on defense, will be well underway by then.

[+] EnlargeTennessee's Scott Solomon
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsTennessee defensive end Scott Solomon will get some work at strongside linebacker.
Media and fans shouldn’t go crazy when they hear what some players will be working on as part of different packages, and as coach Mike Munchak, defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and senior defensive assistant Gregg Williams begin to get more complete assessments of what guys can, and cannot, do.

I just talked with Titans coach Mike Munchak:

“The big thing is, especially on defense, don’t get to caught up with who’s doing what and where,” he advised me. “We have enough numbers in a lot of spots, I think you are going to see a lot of guys moving around. We may be doing different things because of packages. As we start competing and with Gregg here now we start to see who works well together, who can do certain things. See what possibilities we can have with certain packages based on who we’re playing on offense and what they do receiver-wise.”

I asked him for some examples of what that tinkering might look like.

  • Defensive end Scott Solomon will get some work at strongside linebacker, where he could ultimately see some time if he’s comfortable there when Akeem Ayers moves forward to do some work as a rush end.
  • Defensive tackle Karl Klug may play some end, but it won’t be a simple move from 4-3 tackle to 4-3 end, he’ll work more like a 3-4 end would in some special, varied fronts. But don’t conclude the Titans are becoming a 3-4 because of it.
  • Starting ends Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley very much remain the starting ends, but they may not always be on the field at the same time as coaches see who works best together on each side of the pass rush. I presume Ayers will be a factor there, as will some ends who may be more early down run-stoppers who can save some wear and tear on the team’s best rush ends.

As for injuries ...

Right tackle David Stewart, interior offensive lineman Eugene Amano and safety Robert Johnson will not be participating at the start of OTAs as they continue to recover from injuries. (I believe Amano will be cut once his arm and knees are healthy.)

Several others will be limited or will start slow and be eased in: Linebacker Zach Brown (shoulder), guard Andy Levitre (who had a knee cleaned out after the season), Morgan, safety Markelle Martin (back) and defensive tackle Mike Martin (knee).

Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy, who recently rated himself as 80 percent, is good to go, Munchak said.

Wrap-up: Chargers 38, Titans 10

September, 16, 2012
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Thoughts on the Titans' 38-10 loss to the Chargers in San Diego:

What it meant: The Titans are 0-2, two games off Houston’s pace in the AFC South, and they did little to solve their major issues from the opener. They didn’t run it well (10 carries for 38 yards) and while they got four sacks and a pick, they still didn’t get the basic plays they needed on defense. San Diego converted on 59 percent of third downs, had the ball for 43:39, gained 416 total net yards and earned 27 first downs. Tennessee gave up five touchdowns to Dante Rosario and Jackie Battle -- backups to guys who didn’t play.

What I didn’t like: Free safety Robert Johnson lined up a mile deep and the Titans are likely to tell us about how they didn’t surrender any plays longer than 31 yards. The determination to minimize big plays hasn't prevented two giant losses, so I am not sure how playing a safety so deep is helping them. ... Jake Locker missed throws all over the place -- with one overthrow of a wide-open Taylor Thompson deep being especially painful. … Tight ends continue to shred Tennessee. Antonio Gates didn’t even play, and yet three tight ends combined to make eight catches for 108 yards. Rosario had three touchdowns.

Continuing to fade: Something is broken with running back Chris Johnson and the run-blocking. Mike Munchak absolutely has to stray from convention and do something to shake things up and get it fixed. How can a coach who did so much to help create so many successful running teams while he was in charge of the offensive line be overseeing this mess? Johnson rebounded from his performance against New England (11 carries for 4 yards)with eight carries for 17 yards. At this rate of improvement, when will he get good again?

What’s next: Tennessee hosts the Detroit Lions in a matchup of two head coaches in Munchak and Jim Schwartz who came up under Jeff Fisher with the Titans.

Coverage, QB early issues for Titans

September, 9, 2012
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans had two big issues coming into their opener against the Patriots.

Both have been magnified in the first half, which ended with New England ahead 21-3 and in complete control.

Tennessee can’t cover all of the Patriots' weapons: Ryan Mouton, either the choice at the nickel spot for this game or a guy who’s taken over as the third corner, has done well blanketing Wes Welker. But they’ve struggled with tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Michael Griffin and Robert Johnson have been turned around and Jordan Babineaux couldn’t keep up with Gronkowski on a 2-yard TD catch.

Jake Locker looks like a first-time starter: He’s made some plays, but two bad ones have offset the good. He threw a deep duck for Nate Washington that was tipped by one defender and intercepted by another. He didn’t feel pressure near the goal line and got stripped by rookie pass-rusher Chandler Jones, watching rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower scoop and score with the fumble. Washington dropped two passes, but Locker also missed him badly running open midrange at one point.

On the bright side: The best thing the Titans have show in these 30 minutes? Perhaps it’s the pass protection. Plenty of times Locker has had more than enough time to throw. Jones seems to be getting the better of left tackle Michael Roos, but it’s not been deadly beyond the fumble play, when Locker probably held it too long. And the interior, which was the big line question coming into the game, has held up well so far.

Stay tuned.

Thoughts from Titans 10, Saints 6

August, 30, 2012
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A few thoughts from the Titans’ preseason finale, a 10-6 victory over the Saints at LP Field.
  • Eight of the 11 players listed as starting defenders for the Saints were scratched. No matter the extent of the game plan, the Titans' first-team offense should find yards against that lineup. Yet Jake Locker missed short (a rollout well short of Kendall Wright, but also well short of a bunch of defenders) and long (overthrowing Damian Williams on what should have been a 39-yard touchdown) and wound up with the often-standard accuracy issues. His final line was uninspiring: 9 of 16 for 81 yards and a lost fumble on a scramble. Before his final series, his average per pass play was at 3.6. To be fair, he didn’t have everyone -- starters Nate Washington, Steve Hutchinson and Chris Johnson didn’t play. Backup Matt Hasselbeck took over for Locker with 1:47 left in the second quarter.
  • I know I can misperceive patience as hesitancy. But I think second-string running back Javon Ringer was more hesitant than patient on at least a couple of his carries, which was disappointing. Chris Johnson did not play, so those Ringer carries came early and he managed all of 17 yards on six carries. First-half rushing not including Locker: 10 handoffs for 33 yards.
  • The Titans have pretty much said we can expect to see both Jordan Babineaux and Robert Johnson on the field as the team’s second safety. They were both starters against the Saints, as Michael Griffin didn’t take the field.
  • I know injury concerns trump all, but I do think teams that play starters some in Week 4 rip off ticket buyers a little less -- so the Titans had that going for them. Which is nice. Sure, people know what they are buying. No, season ticket-holders don’t have a choice but to buy preseason tickets. And they’re full price. If it’s not the biggest scam in sports, it’s a contender for the title. And I am not sure what the competition is.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Michael Griffin will play near the line of scrimmage and collect tackles if that’s what the Tennessee Titans want him to do.

But it shouldn’t be what they want him to do. And if it’s what they need him to do, they’ve botched roster-building around him.

Griffin
Griffin won a big, new contract after the team placed the franchise tag on him by showing up to work and showing the team his commitment and intention to get better. He didn’t create any story or stink over no new deal, and wound up signing for five years and $35 million with $11.5 million guaranteed.

To make that worth it, they need him where they’ve long talked about putting him, deep in the secondary playing the ball in the air.

As a more traditional free safety, he can be a good player. As a more traditional strong safety, he’s simply not the same caliber.

The Titans are deciding if they are better off with Griffin playing free and Jordan Babineaux playing strong, or with Robert Johnson playing free and Griffin playing strong.

In the second scenario, they’d be accommodating Johnson more than they’d be accommodating Griffin.

Setting things up for an unproven guy instead of a former first-round draft pick you just locked up long term doesn't make sense to me.

"If Grif's your best safety in the box, makes a lot of plays around the line of scrimmage, and then the other guys is pretty good, but he's better in the back end, then it's figuring out what's the best combination of the two," coach Mike Munchak said.

The Titans could end up using both -- getting Babineaux on the field for run situations and the tall leaper Johnson for likely pass plays. That would make Griffin a yo-yo bouncing between free and strong.

If Griffin is your best safety in the box, then you really didn't do a good job assessing Babineaux, I think. He got a two-year contract this offseason.

Griffin is versatile enough to do what the Titans ask. You can argue that given what he’s making he should do so without complaint. And he will.

But the Titans aren’t maximizing him if they put him near the line of scrimmage.

They signed Babineaux for two years and it was presumably his job. Now they aren’t so sure about him.

And Griffin’s set to suffer for it.

Following up the Titans’ 27-17 loss in Seattle on Saturday night:

  • We’re never going to read a whole bunch into a preseason performance. But Chris Johnson did nothing against the Seahawks to make anyone think he’s turned the page from his down season in 2011. Three passes were thrown his way and they all hit the ground, two of them as drops. He turned five carries into 8 yards. The backs who followed him into the Titans huddle didn’t face the same quality of defenders by any means, but Javon Ringer and Darius Reynaud were more decisive and fared better. Eddie George and Keith Bulluck, doing commentary on the Nashville broadcast of the game, thought CJ failed to press the hole on one failed run when he could have more aggressively taken on a charging safety and chose instead to overdo it laterally.
  • Jake Locker was certainly a good notch better than Matt Hasselbeck, but don’t mark Hasselbeck down much for his two interceptions. The first was a fluke play where the ball stayed alive after bouncing up off Nate Washington on the first play from scrimmage and turned into a touchdown by Brandon Browner. The other was on a deep ball that Richard Sherman did better to go up and get than Damian Williams, and effectively amounted to a punt.
  • Tommie Campbell’s been the third cornerback for the Titans throughout camp, but he played into the second half and lost a jump ball to Braylon Edwards. Russell Wilson put it up and Edwards allowed Campbell to go by (perhaps offering some guidance with an arm), then went up and got it for a 39-yard TD. It’s likely the kind of play Campbell can learn a great deal from at this stage.
  • Showed me more than I anticipated: The defensive line overall, particularly active tackle Zach Clayton; safety Robert Johnson; rookie linebacker Zach Brown; Seattle’s backup rookie quarterback Wilson. (What a fantastic naked bootleg TD at the end.)
  • Overtime shouldn’t be possible in the preseason. Bravo to Mike Munchak and special teams coach Alan Lowry for reducing the possibility by having rookie Will Batson, rather than Rob Bironas, try a 36-yard fourth-quarter field goal that could have tied it at 20-20. He narrowly missed it right with 4:46 left in the game. Not that his coaches or teammates were wanting him to misfire.

Titans practice squad

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
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The Titans annnouced they've reached deals with seven players for their practice squad:
All seven were with the team in preseason.
A running list of Saturday cuts around the AFC South so far, per reports from people in the know…

Houston
Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Tennessee

As we await word, cut questions ...

September, 3, 2011
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Cut questions as we wait for news on who’s in and who’s out …

Houston Texans

I’ve confirmed outside linebacker Xavier Adibi will be released, which is a surprise. The Texans are going younger at the spot, which could mean good things for undrafted Bryan Braman. He is raw and probably best suited for the practice squad, but may have done too much to risk cutting first. Can Steve Slaton stick? Odds are against him as he ranks as the team’s fourth back, at best. But he’s got to be a hard guy to let go even after a preseason limited by injury. He’ll be scooped up for sure by a team in need at the position. And he likely still qualifies as one of the team’s best 53 players.

Indianapolis Colts

I know a lot of fans want to see the end for players like Donald Brown, Jerry Hughes and Anthony Gonzalez. But we must ask who are the better options? I’m not sure about Gonzalez, but I suspect that Brown and Hughes are on this team. One guy we presume to have made it who might not is veteran defensive tackle Tommie Harris. One guy we presume not to have made it who might is undrafted rookie tight end Mike McNeill.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Former sixth-round pick Scotty McGee, a return specialist, was among the cuts we learned of Friday. They also included undrafted receivers Armon Binns and Dontrelle Inman. Does that mean another receiver, Jamar Newsome, separated himself and will make it? A team that loves to keep an undrafted guy or two may not this time around. Larry Hart, a 2010 fifth-round defensive end, is probably in trouble.

Tennessee Titans

There looks to be a battle for a backup safety slot between Vincent Fuller, Robert Johnson and Anthony Smith. I wish I had a better feel and could pick a favorite there, but I can’t. It’s a tough call to whittle down from seven receivers, too. Can recent addition Kevin Curtis dislodge Justin Gage and does the team still have patience for Lavelle Hawkins? I can’t see Gage getting cut, even though he is due $3.5 million. Linebacker Rennie Curran sounded like a goner in Mike Munchak’s news conference Friday.

Preseason finale storylines

September, 1, 2011
9/01/11
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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.

Randy Moss and the effort question

November, 10, 2010
11/10/10
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Randy MossAP Photo/Mark HumphreyThe effort Randy Moss puts into being a team player will be closely watched in Nashville.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Will he always try?

Will Randy Moss, Tennessee Titan, bust it at the line of scrimmage and run every play? As much as he bristled at the question -- I was fortunate enough to ask one of four he fielded in his first meeting with the Tennessee media Wednesday after practice -- it’s not an unfair one based on his history.

Moss has not always given maximum effort. The Titans are expecting that he will.

“He’s caught passes for 15,000 yards, so he knows about playing the game,” Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “I think [the effort question] becomes kind of a product of your environment, not to speak of where he’s been and whatever. But if you watch our practices, our guys practice hard, and I think that’s a contagious thing. I think we’re optimistic that that happens."

And if it doesn’t, what does it tell a young team with young receivers like Kenny Britt, Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins?

“That’s a fair question,” Reinfeldt said. “I think the good thing is we have enough young guys that are so strong, that really work hard and with passion, I don’t think that impacts that at all. I’d be disappointed if we saw it, yeah.”

The Titans playfully sent rookie safety Robert Johnson onto the practice field in a Moss jersey before the new addition came out himself. Jeff Fisher smiled about it fooling cameramen and photographers briefly and said he thought Johnson did a nice imitation, though he wore the wrong color gloves.

Before the Titans' biggest media crowd in memory, Moss stood against a team banner and talked for 3 minutes, 4 seconds, opening by telling his family “your baby brother, your baby boy is good.”

“I’ve been through a lot the last couple weeks, but like I’ve said, I’ve got these broad shoulders. I can carry a lot of weight,” he said.

I asked, “What can this team expect from you effort-wise, snap to snap?”
Moss: “What do you expect from me, effort-wise?”

Me: “Well other people…”

Moss: “I didn’t say other people. What do you expect from me, effort-wise?”

Me: “I don’t know what to expect.”

Moss: “Well, I don’t know what to expect either. Next question.”

(I should have done better there.)

Fisher and quarterback Kerry Collins, who played with Moss in Oakland in 2005, both talked about how lack of effort from the receiver is a misconception.

Fisher immediately turned to the play against New England where Moss, then with the Vikings, didn’t really go after a ball on what was a pass interference penalty in his favor.

But that’s not what Fisher was being asked about and when pressed, he admitted as much.
Question: There have been times when Moss has jogged off the line of scrimmage, have there not?

“Yeah, there’s been times when that’s happened. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what the scenario was, I don’t know what the play call was, I don’t know what the formation was, whether he was primary or not or didn’t get a check. So I can’t comment. The only thing I can comment on is the way he’s going to play here."

Question: If he’s not primary here, you’re still expecting him to run hard off the line of scrimmage, yeah?

"He could be primary here at any time with our quarterback and his legs."

Question: So he’s expected to run?

“Yes, he is.”

Question: What if he doesn’t?

“I’m not going to deal in hypothetical. I don’t have any issues with what he’s done right now. We’re trying to get him ready to play and get him involved in this offense. And he understands we have a running back that can, literally, come out any place on the run plays. He understands that and is ready to be a part of that.”

Said Collins: “I never worry about what you’re going to get from Randy Moss. … Never once did I ever question whether he was going to give me everything he had. I expect that here. I know what kind of guy he is, what kind of pro he is, so there is no doubt in my mind what we are going to get from him.”

Hey, I hope for the Titans’ sake that no effort issues arise.

But if one does, it will set an awfully bad example for a young team that’s coached to play hard, all the time, and for the rest of the receivers who are expected to block, a lot, when the ball isn’t coming to them.

Let’s set aside, please, the concept that the not-always-playing-hard line of questioning is some sort of media creation. The media didn’t create the tape we’ve seen of snaps where he has hardly bolted off the line of scrimmage. The media didn’t make him say, “I’ll play when I want to play.” And the media didn’t put words in the mouths of people like Brett Favre.

“Did he hustle on every play?” Favre asked last week after Moss was released by the Vikings. “I don’t know if Randy has ever hustled on every play. That’s just Randy. But he knows what his value is. He figures, ‘Heck, two guys follow me everywhere I go.’ [Jets cornerback Antonio] Cromartie did a great job against him, challenged him one-on-one, but eventually we got a big one. That’s why teams don’t do that.

“They may watch and say, ‘He’s jogging, jogging, jogging.’ Boom, 70-yard touchdown. That one definitely got us a spark that night.”

Britt is out with a hamstring injury and it could be a good while before he gets back on the field. He said jogging off the line of scrimmage can’t work.

“Oh no, not here,” he said. “Especially in our running game. We want to sprint off the ball as much as we can. That’s how the defense can’t tell if it’s a run or a pass. When you start jogging off the ball they can tell it’s a run or what we are going to do on our offense.”

Might he see Moss jog off the line here?

“I hope not,” Britt said. “We’ve got rules for that. We might get a little fine for jogging on the backside or not finishing. Twenty bucks. For a dropped ball or anything like that, everybody gets treated the same.”

That’s one place where equal treatment might not be a good thing. I seriously doubt a $20 bill is going to dissuade Moss from doing his own thing if he wants to.

Fisher and the Titans have a setup in which Moss can succeed. But the coach also has set himself up for a lot of criticism if Moss doesn’t pan out. The coach has said he sees “no risk” in the addition and promised Moss won’t receive special treatment.

“Randy’s going to play hard.” Fisher said Monday. “Yeah, he’s going to look around and watch everybody play and play hard. There is not going to be a double-standard here for anybody, there never is. If players aren’t playing hard, they’re corrected -- constructively corrected.”

Who wouldn’t like to see receivers coach Fred Graves, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger or Fisher himself constructively correct a receiver who’s heading for the Hall of Fame, who has just come from time with two Hall of Fame quarterbacks and who a friend and former teammate, Cris Carter, said struggles with male authority?

To hear Moss tell it, none of them will have an issue.

“I look forward to just coming out here and just helping this team,” he said. “Do whatever I can and whatever my role is, is what I am going to do. Hopefully, I fit into Coach Fisher’s team and hopefully I’m going to go out here and make some plays to keep winning.”

Cortland Finnegan is thrilled to have Moss on his team. But he’ll also advise the rest of the receivers to listen to their coaches and not necessarily look to another player as a model.

“The young players realize they have a job at stake too and they’re going to have to do things the way that they are coached to do,” Finnegan said. “And I know that Randy will, too.”

Michael Bush is inactive

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
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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

Thoughts on Titans 27, Saints 24

September, 2, 2010
9/02/10
11:30
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Some bullet-point thoughts on the Titans’ 27-24 preseason win over New Orleans on Thursday night.

Impressive:
  • With Chris Johnson not dressing, Javon Ringer showed an ability to keep his feet moving and his eyes open on an early 47-yard run. He felt space open to the left side and took it, slipped a tackle attempt by Leigh Torrence, and moved back to the right. Samkon Gado got a lot of work relatively early with the first team, and broke off a 31-yard run.
  • Defensive tackle Jason Jones was very good again, with some nice pass rushes. He did well chasing stuff downfield when needed. If he stays healthy, he’s looking like a guy who will be heard from outside of Nashville this season.
  • Gerald McRath showed his ability to cover pretty deep, breaking up a pass down field with Robert Johnson and Nick Schommer also arriving at the throw from Patrick Ramsey intended for Jimmy Graham.
  • Jared Cook and LeGarrette Blount had some nice yards after the catch by hurdling defenders. Eventually, though, one of the hurdlers will get crushed when he encounters a defender who anticipates it, stays upright and buries a helmet in his chest.
Unimpressive:
  • Kenny Britt dropped two early passes -- the first on a right-to-left short crossing route, the second on about a 22-yarder on which he was cutting left to right. Both throws were on target from Vince Young. A bit later, Britt caught a 7-yard pass with Jonathan Casillas draped on him and Malcolm Jenkins fast arriving. But then he had a false start penalty when Collins was in at quarterback. Craig Stevens and Lavelle Hawkins also dropped balls they should have caught.
  • Schommer, in a battle for one of the last safety slots, hurt himself on special teams. Lined up on the right of the line, he allowed Junior Galette to get past him and casually block a Brett Kern punt with one hand. Harry Coleman juggled a bit but kept it in play for himself and pulled it in for a 1-yard touchdown. Kern should have felt the pressure from two rushers on a second block in the fourth quarter.
  • Too many penalties. Marc Mariani had two nice returns, one undone by penalty against Stevens, one with 15-yards chopped off thanks to a personal foul call against Donnie Nickey. In all, Tennessee was flagged nine times for 133 yards. Schommer needlessly shoved a receiver out of bounds for a late pass interference call. Thankfully, the Saints didn’t kick on the fourth-and-2 from the Titans’ 16 that came after that with 11 seconds left.

On the radar: Nick Schommer

July, 1, 2010
7/01/10
1:00
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NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

[+] EnlargeNick Schommer
Joe Murphy/Getty ImagesTennessee 2009 seventh-round draft pick Nick Schommer will be vying for a roster spot in 2010 at safety.
A seventh-round pick for the Tennessee Titans out of North Dakota State in 2009, Nick Schommer spent last year on the practice squad. Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil didn’t get a great look at him because of an injury.

Though he was listed at 6-0, 201, I remember thinking he didn’t have an NFL safety’s build during training camp. He certainly didn’t have good body language.

But Cecil said Schommer shined as the Titans wrapped up OTAs. Schommer got some time with the second team when Donnie Nickey got married. But he hurt a hamstring in the second-to-last practice.

If Schommer reports healthy and can stay that way, he could make the team ahead of a guy much more well known -- 2010 sixth-round pick Myron Rolle, the Rhodes Scholar. The Titans also selected Robert Johnson in the fifth round.

Chris Hope and Michael Griffin, each a 2008 Pro Bowl selection, slipped badly in 2009. The Titans need to develop contingency plans and solidify the depth.

“Nick needs to be ready to go,” Cecil said. “If he stays healthy and plays the way we think he’s capable, then there might be a spot for him… He’s totally unknown and during OTAs he couldn’t do the thing that he’s best at -- hitting is his calling card. He used to knock himself out all the time. He’s my kind of guy.”

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