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Know the Foe: Titans Expect Big Challenge from Jets DL Muhammad Wilkerson

Posted Sep 27, 2013

“Know the Foe” is a segment that takes a look at a key player or aspect of the upcoming opponent.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans’ revamped offensive line is expecting a significant challenge from the defensive line of the New York Jets.

The Titans expect to have their hands full with Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.

The young, talented group of starters includes rookie Sheldon Richardson, who was selected with the 13th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, Damon “Snacks” Harrison, an undrafted free agent in 2012 who tips the scales at 350 pounds, and Muhammad Wilkerson, who was the 30th overall pick in 2011.  

Wilkerson is listed at 6-foot-4, and 315 pounds. He has a remarkable 85.25-inch wingspan, which is so long that he could simultaneously touch the head and toes of Shaquille O'Neal.

Titans guard Andy Levitre is quite familiar with the Jets’ defensive front from his time in Buffalo, where he played the past four seasons before joining Tennessee this offseason.

“The scheme has been pretty similar as it has in years past, but the personnel that they have is a lot better and has gotten a lot better over the years,” Levitre said. “We definitely have our hands full.”

Levitre has prided himself on proper technique during his career and said it will be important for Titans offensive linemen at 3:05 p.m. Sunday.

“You’ve just got to get on him quick, hold the point,” Levitre said. “He gets good push, too, so you’ve got to make sure you get your hands inside of his. It’s going to take a lot of technique and discipline on our side.”

Wilkerson has three sacks this season and six in his past eight games. He had 90 tackles, five sacks and six pass breakups last season.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said he remembered spending time with Wilkerson before the 2011 NFL Draft and liked him a lot then.

“We spent time with him. We figured he’d be really good, a good football player. He has been. It’s hard to do much with him because he’s so big with long arms,” Munchak said. “He has some quickness to him so you can’t just set up a bull rush. He’s a different type of guy, but he’s definitely one of the better guys in the league. He’s just getting better. He plays on both sides (of the defensive line), so everyone will get a little feel for him.”

Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said “wherever (Wilkerson) lines up, he’s one of the best players on the field.”

Jets coach Rex Ryan used part of his conference call with Nashville reporters this week to say that Wilkerson should make the Pro Bowl.

“Well, he’s big, strong, fast, and athletic. He’s got the longest wingspan in the league, so his arms are unbelievable. You’ll see it. It’s unreal,” Ryan said. “It’s a very unusual arm length, and it’s not just the arm length, it’s the arm span. That’s kind of unusual, and you’ll notice it right when he walks on the field. He plays with great motor and is just really coming into his own.”

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