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Camp Notebook: Titans Prep for No-Huddle

Posted Aug 21, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans are prepping for a little more pep.

Tennessee anticipates Atlanta will incorporate its no-huddle offense when the teams meet at 7 p.m. at LP Field in the third preseason game for both teams. Most starters are expected to play the first half and into the third quarter.

Titans defenders have prepared this week to have less time between plays because they expect the Falcons to use their no-huddle offense.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said Tennessee is spending a little more time studying Atlanta than it did Washington or Cincinnati, although he doesn’t expect the Falcons to go too deeply into their scheme.

“They’re not going to all of sudden unload all of their blitz packages and stuff that they’re going to do during the season,” Munchak said. “A lot of teams do the same thing. They’re trying to just find out how guys fit into your base systems and go out there and consistently do what you’re supposed to do.”

The Titans, however, have spent time this week preparing for the quick-tempo, no-huddle offense that they saw the Falcons deploy during a joint training camp practice last year and in a game in 2011.

“It would be good work for us and we anticipate they will,” Munchak said. “That’s their deal; they’ve been doing that for years now. We practiced against them last year during training camp and they ran a bunch of no huddle then.

“It’s a good conditioning drill also, to see mentally how you handle things, the communication as you get tired and you’re out there for eight, nine snaps in a row and you can’t substitute,” Munchak added. “I hope we get that, and I’m sure they will do that. They want to win too; this is their third game. They want to go out there and look good. We both have the same motivations for this game, so I think it will be a great challenge on both sides.”     

Defensive ends Derrick Morgan and rookie Lavar Edwards, who Munchak said is likely to start in place of Ropati Pitoitua (broken hand) or rotate with Karl Klug, said conditioning and communicating will be important.

“We’ve just got to get back on the line and get ready,” Morgan said. “We’ve been repping those situations a lot in practice so I think guys are pretty much prepared for it and we’ve just got to communicate when that time comes.”

Added Edwards: “We have certain periods where it’s all no-huddle so we can be ready when they come out with that pace. The hardest thing is making sure we get the calls and get lined up because if we get lined up and ready to play, then it’s no problem.”

SATURDAY STARTERS: Munchak said the Titans are “probably leaning toward Rob Turner” starting at center and Alterraun Verner is probably going to start the first quarter at right cornerback against Atlanta. Turner and Verner started against Washington, but Tennessee started Fernando Velasco and Tommie Campbell, respectively, at Cincinnati.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said Rob Turner, right, is likely to start at center Saturday against Atlanta.
Click here for Wednesday's slideshow from practice.

Turner played guard against the Bengals while Chris Spencer relieved Velasco at center. Munchak said the Titans want Velasco and Spencer to play guard against the Falcons, and rookie Brian Schwenke to make his NFL debut at center in relief of Turner. Schwenke has recovered from a hamstring and fully participated in Wednesday’s practice.

“We’re looking for a starting center and a guy that can play all three spots (center or either guard position in case of in-game injury) so that’s tied into the equation, too,” Munchak said.

The coach, however, said starters at the positions for the season remain undetermined until after the game.

“I’m assuming Verner would start the first quarter and then we’re going to put Campbell in in the second quarter so they’re both in with the first group and see how they match up with their first-group guys,” Munchak said. “This game should tell us all we need to know probably at both spots.”

LB UPDATES: The Titans only had five linebackers available for practice Monday, when they were missing Akeem Ayers, Moise Fokou and Zach Brown, who have started each game of the preseason so far, but the position group is bouncing back.

Munchak said Fokou “did a whole practice” Wednesday, and the team has some hope that Zach Brown’s foot will improve and allow him to practice Thursday.

“Zach didn’t practice today,” Munchak said. “If he can’t do something tomorrow, then he’ll sit (Saturday).”

Ayers and Colin McCarthy won’t play this week, but Munchak said McCarthy may return to the field Thursday or Friday for some activities.

“He can do some scout team and things like that so we’re hoping to get him on the field the next two days just to do some work for him, take that to the next level so that next week he’s ready (to play against Minnesota),” Munchak said.

Ayers suffered a sprained ankle at Cincinnati. He is likely to be replaced in base packages by Patrick Bailey, although Munchak pointed out that Atlanta’s use of three-receiver sets may reduce the number of base reps for Tennessee’s defense. Ayers is likely to miss the rest of the preseason but said he’s hopeful to play in the season opener at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8.

“I feel my ankle getting better every day,” Ayers said. “I really want to take my time and make sure I’m 100 percent when I come back because the last thing I want to do is come back and I’m not fully healthy and end up hurting my team. The main thing for me is take my time, rest my ankle, rehab it and get 100 percent for week one.”

SIDELINES: In addition to Pitoitua, McCarthy and Ayers, Kendall Wright, Marc Mariani, Sammie Hill, Quinn Johnson and Markelle Martin have been ruled out this week.

Damian Williams will move up to Wright’s spot, Antonio Johnson is likely to start in place of Hill and Collin Mooney is set to fill in for Quinn Johnson at fullback for the second straight week.

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