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Camp Notebook: Titans Play Bootlegs & Guitar

Posted Aug 11, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans signed veteran defensive end Ropati Pitoitua because they like the way he can defend the run.

Ropati Pitoitua was added to strengthen the Titans' defense against the run, but is showing he can handle when teams fake run plays.
Click here for a slideshow from Sunday.

Pitoitua showed during Sunday night’s practice he can do pretty well when teams fake the run, too.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said the offense ran a lot of bootleg plays that involve fake handoffs and rollouts by quarterbacks because the Redskins were effective in doing that in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Titans.

On one such play, Pitoitua was able to pressure Titans QB Jake Locker into a throw that was intercepted by Zach Brown.

“As a group we needed a lot of work so we emphasized a lot of that,” Munchak said. “(Pitoitua) does a great job recognizing it out of the backside. That’s where you’ll see him get a lot of pressure with him. He did a nice job.”

Tennessee’s defense got the better of its offense throughout the night, with Bernard Pollard recording two interceptions and Moise Fokou being in place for another on a play that also had pressure from Pitoitua.

“We watched some film and gave ourselves some looks. We’ve just got to read our keys out there so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Pitoitua said. “The first thing is you’ve got to play the guy in front of you, how he blocks, if he goes down the line, if he leaves you alone. That’s the main thing.”

And after reading the play correctly and determining to go after the quarterback, “You’ve just got to get in the way. I’ve got to use my height. If I get in the way, they won’t be able to throw the ball, so I just try to get in the way as much as I can.”

That part isn’t a tall order for Pitoitua, who is 6-foot-8 and roughly 300 pounds, but moves fluidly.

Pollard said the defense did a “really good job” on that type of play Sunday night and benefitted from seeing Washington execute the plays, although he pointed out that Tennessee didn’t game-plan for the Redskins and “dialed back a lot.”

Preseason Live: Tennessee Titans“You look at the Washington game, they’re a bootleg team,” Pollard said. “They have a very complicated offense. They can hit you with boots, they can hit you with runs that look just like boots, so I think for us, for our first game, that was really good for us to train our eyes and get everybody there.”

It’s a mixed bag of sorts for a head coach when one side of the ball has such a stronger performance than the other. The team was practicing in full pads for the first time since Thursday’s game, which can equalize things for the defense. Munchak said other factors may have been involved, but he wants to see the offense respond better (the offense has won some days, and the sides have split other practices).

“We had a lot of different periods, trying a lot of different things, and the defense made some good plays,” Munchak said. “It was good to see the defense make plays and the offense – this was just one of those practices where they never really got it going consistently.

“The offense has to respond, not just Jake,” Munchak added. “We have to block better, the defense gave him a lot of looks. There was some confusion at times with the backs and with the linemen. Usually it’s one of those practices where it’s up and down, this one, they got a little lopsided after a while there and I thought the defense did a nice job.”

MUSIC DEMO: Ever since Munchak became head coach in 2011, it’s been quite common for music to blare on speakers during warm-ups and portions of practice at training camp and the regular season, but Sunday’s practice included a song written and performed by tackle Daniel Baldridge, who joins Pitoitua as the other 6-8 player on the roster.

Baldridge has been playing music since junior high, mostly guitar with some bass and vocals. He said he began writing a tribute song to outlaw of country Waylon Jennings in his home state of Louisiana and continued it during organized team activity practices. Jason McCourty recently captured a clip of Baldridge playing a song in the locker room with the J-Mac Cam.

“I was kind of doing work here and messed with it a little bit,” Baldridge said. “I finally got introduced to a recording artist who helped me and then finished the song and when we were done with OTAs went in there and knocked it out. It was pretty cool.”

It is Baldridge’s first “professionally produced demo” but he didn’t know that Titans video director Anthony Pastrana had added it to the play list. As players who are not on special teams stretched to prepare for practice, teammates who recognized the song made some noise and kidded with Baldridge. Rob Turner even sang a line or two loudly.

“Yeah, I stretch a few notes out and the guys kind of caught on to that, so it was pretty cool, Baldridge said. “It was definitely awesome to have something you’ve written and played, and the guys here on the team thought it was pretty cool. It was definitely a surprise.”

The Titans signed Baldridge off Jacksonville’s practice squad last December after David Stewart suffered a broken leg. He said it’s been awesome to pursue two passions in one city.

“It’s the best of both worlds. I love it,” Baldridge said. “Nashville is awesome. The guys on the team are really great. It’s just a blessing to have both worlds in the same city.”

TITANS SIGN TWO, WAIVE TWO: The Titans announced Sunday that they had signed LB Gary Guyton and S Corey Lynch and waived S Robert Johnson (failed physical) and DE Thaddeus Gibson.

Linebackers Colin McCarthy and Zaviar Gooden are unlikely to play Saturday at Cincinnati, and LB Greg Jones and safeties Daimion Stafford and Markelle Martin haven’t practiced since Thursday’s game.

Munchak said he was disappointed for Johnson.

“I think it’s just been frustrating for him, too, and us that injuries have been unfortunately around for him since he’s been here,” Munchak said. “He hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Great kid. We’d love to have him here. I know he loved it here, too. He had a great opportunity last year and worked hard to get it. He had the injury, then he tried to come back, and still was not healthy. Hopefully he’ll get an opportunity to play somewhere else, and hopefully his luck will be different.”

WALKER A “MISSING PIECE”: Free agent addition Delanie Walker, who has been recovering from a knee scope, said he hopes to return to practice when the Titans begin preparing for their third preseason game. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has left some of the scheme out until the versatile veteran returns.

“I think I’m the missing piece of the puzzle out there, not being able to jell with them and that’s why it’s tough on me for me to be doing treatment and not really jelling with the team and understanding the philosophy of the offense has kind of set me back,” Walker said. “I’m doing everything I can do with the meetings and getting with the coaches to understand that philosophy.”

Walker said mental reps only do so much, but vowed to work hard to fit in the offense as quickly as possible.

“You’re kind of a step behind, but knowing my attitude, I’m going to try my best to catch up to them,” Walker said.

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