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Hundreds greet Bironas, Locker in Cookeville

Posted May 8, 2012

Kicker Rob Bironas (back, left) and quarterback Jake Locker (middle, back) visit with Titans fans on Day 7 of the 2012 Titans Caravan.

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Titans fans thanked Rob Bironas for his game-winning kicks and told Jake Locker they are excited about the second-year quarterback’s future in Tennessee on Tuesday under a pavilion at the Cane Creek Sportsplex in Putnam County.

VIDEO | PHOTOS

Bironas and Locker joined forces to sign autographs, pose for photos and share smiles with more than 600 fans during the public stop on the seventh day of the 14th Titans Caravan, sponsored by Grange Insurance. Titans Vice President of Community Relations Bob Hyde said the stop was one of the five largest in the history of the Titans Caravan.

The Cookeville stop concluded a day that Bironas started with school visits at Smithville Elementary, Northfield Elementary in Sparta and Homestead Elementary in Crossville. Bironas had help during the school visits from Titans mascot T-Rac and a high-energy educational program from Tennessee State Parks that reinforces the NFL’s Play 60 campaign.

Fans frequently told Bironas how they vividly remember important kicks he’s made with the Titans, and told Locker they were impressed by the potential he showed in a relief role in five games as a rookie.

Bironas made a franchise-record four game winning kicks in the 2006 season, including his career-long 60-yarder to help the Titans beat Indianapolis 20-17 and a 49-yarder the week before in a 24-21 win against the New York Giants. Those successful kicks make Bironas the only person in NFL history to make game winners against Eli Manning and Peyton Manning in consecutive weeks.

Bironas also set an NFL record by making eight field goals in a game against Houston in 2007. He donated the cleats and football from that game to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and played in the Pro Bowl that season and has been a consistent force on special teams every season since.

“He’s an excellent kicker,” said Kathy Dyer, of Cookeville, moments after Bironas signed the jersey she was wearing. “I like to get (to LP Field) early to watch him practice kicks before the games.”

Dyer brought her son Eric Dyer and nephew Ethan Breeding to the sportsplex and enjoyed meeting Bironas and Locker for the first time, she said.  

Parish Tansil, of Cookeville, also wore a Bironas jersey that she received for her birthday in August.

Tansil said she is excited about first-round draft pick Kendall Wright, a receiver out of Baylor who will join other Titans rookies at Baptist Sports Park Thursday for a minicamp.

“We need to win one for (Titans owner and founder K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr.),” Tansil said.

Derek Esser and Tammie Esser brought their sons Jeremy, 9, and Dylan, 7, and were first in line. The Esser family moved to Tennessee from Arizona nine years ago and quickly became Titans fans.

“Pretty much the first time we saw them, we knew they were going to be something special,” said Derek Esser, who is looking forward to the Titans’ depth at the receiver position that includes Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, Damian Williams, Lavelle Hawkins and Wright.

Locker said his first appearance on the Titans Caravan was a great way to meet fans and explore the area. He will headline the Caravan’s trek through East Tennessee Wednesday with school visits in Blountville, Hampton, Mosheim and public stops at Academy Sports and Outdoors in Knoxville and Chattanooga.

“It’s good to become familiar with the area outside of Nashville a little bit,” Locker said. “I haven’t had a whole lot of time to drive around like this, so we’ll see some different areas. This place is beautiful, a lot of green, so it’s great to see a lot of different areas.”

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