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Free Agency Recap: Common Theme Emerges

Posted Mar 15, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Physicality, versatility and consistency are three aspects that Titans coach Mike Munchak and general manager Ruston Webster have talked about the most this offseason.

The Titans had signed six free agents (as of Friday afternoon) from other teams that they think will help young players on offense and defense re-establish the identity of the Titans in the eyes of opponents and within the locker room.

“I think the main thing we’re looking at is to become a tough, physical football team and create an identity and look for that type of players that help us do that again,” Munchak said Wednesday at a news conference when the Titans introduced four of the players who joined the Titans this week.

All football teams are physical to a certain extent, because that’s the nature of the sport, but few have the reputation that cascades before and reverberates during each matchup.

Webster said Titans owner K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. encouraged the personnel department to formulate a plan and be aggressive in executing it. Webster, who is in his second year as Titans GM, said it was “fun” to target available players and even more enjoyable to sign the players Tennessee had in mind.

Munchak told reporters Wednesday that he thinks returning players will be excited about the newcomers sitting next to them next month when the Titans begin their offseason program.

Here’s a recap of the moves made by the Titans in free agency:

G Andy Levitre The second-round pick (51st overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft by Buffalo was one of the most-sought players at any position in the market. Levitre, 26, is yet to miss a start (64 games) in the pros and is expected to play left guard for Tennessee.

Levitre helped Buffalo’s offensive line rank first in the NFL in sacks allowed (23) in 2011 and rank 10th with 30 allowed last season. He also helped the Bills rush for 1,921 yards in 2011 and 2,217 yards in 2012. The Bills were in the top five in yards per rush attempt in each of those seasons.

“I just feel like it was a really good fit for me, especially being able to be coached by two Hall of Fame offensive linemen (Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews),” Levitre said. “You won’t find that anywhere else in the league, so it is a great opportunity for me.”

RB Shonn Greene The 5-foot-11, 226-pound running back is expected to add a “smash” element to complement Chris Johnson’s “dash” abilities. Greene was drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft 14 spots after Levitre. He’s shared carries each season in New York as a backup and at the top of the depth chart.

Greene had strong performances in the playoffs, helping the Jets make back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship after the ’09 and ’10 seasons and is coming off his second straight season with at least 1,000 yards rushing. He and Johnson each carried the ball 276 times in 2012, but Greene said he is fine with Johnson at the top of the depth chart in 2013.

“I think we just both got to know our role. Coach (Munchak) has explained that to me,” Greene said. “Then you get the hot hand at times, whoever has the hot hand is going to go. I know for me that this is CJ’s backfield and I’m just here willing to help this team get wins. I’m pretty fine with that.”

TE Delanie Walker A sixth-rounder in 2006, Walker played receiver in college at Central Missouri and moved to tight end with San Francisco. He developed his skills as a blocking tight end to get more playing time and gained exposure for his ability to move around the field before the snap and remain a target throughout extension of a pass play during the 49ers’ march to Super Bowl XLVII.

The Titans envision Walker as someone who will help the offensive linemen create holes for Johnson and Greene and help quarterback Jake Locker with his ability to get open. Walker said he expects a similar role that he’s had the past two seasons in San Francisco as the 49ers emerged from four losing seasons and one .500 season to win 24 games the past two regular seasons.

“I think (the Titans are) a very good team — young, but a very good team, an up-and-coming team,” Walker said. “To bring in somebody like me who’s been through it — I’ve been through the downs and I’ve been through the ups — I can bring that leadership and what I know to try and bring a positive vibe here, try to bring what I do best to the Titans.

DT Sammie Hill — A fourth-round pick in 2009, Hill found his reps limited behind Lions teammates and first-round draft picks Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley the past two seasons, but is looking forward to increased opportunities with the Titans.

At 6-4 and 330 pounds, the Titans believe Hill will be able to disrupt the pocket for opposing quarterbacks and stuff runs up the middle.

“I had to take on my role and (being) given this opportunity to come and play a lot more and know exactly what they want me to do (is great),” Hill said. “I’m comfortable with them.”

LB Moise Fokou Fokou spent the past season with the Colts after he was traded during training camp before his fourth season in Philadelphia, which drafted him in the seventh round. Fokou emerged from the draft as a versatile player, capable of playing in 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes and definitely received Munchak’s memo about physical play.

“Linebacker is not just a position. It’s almost a way of life,” Fokou said.

S George Wilson Wilson, who spent most of the past nine years in Buffalo, was the first player signed by Tennessee in free agency. Because the Bills released Wilson in a salary saving move, the Titans were able to sign him before free agency began Tuesday.

Wilson made 55 starts for Buffalo after switching from offense to defense and is expected to start at strong safety opposite free safety Michael Griffin.

“I’m definitely excited to get in there and get to know my teammates and start learning the scheme and verbiage and communication with the guys on defense,” Wilson said recently.

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