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Notebook: Damian Williams Preps for Return to Kick Returner Role

Posted Oct 28, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Damian Williams recently found out that roller skating isn’t quite like riding a bike, but he wants to show that returning kicks is like the skill that’s said to be retained once it’s learned.

Damian Williams is preparing to return kicks for the first time in a game setting since the 2011 preseason when he returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown at New Orleans.

Williams used last week’s bye to visit family and went roller skating with his niece. The fourth-year pro estimated that it was his first time on wheels since high school. He said he didn’t fall but also wasn’t that smooth at first.

This week, he’ll trade that roll for an expanded role as Tennessee’s kick and punt returner in addition to playing receiver. Williams is likely to handle those duties in the absence of Darius Reynaud, who was released on Oct. 21.

“You hate to see somebody go, but you’re never going to turn down an opportunity,” Williams said. “I just look at it as an opportunity to go out and make more plays. I’ve been doing it every week.”

Although the job was Reynaud’s last season and after camp this season, Williams has gotten several reps throughout the offseason and this season. Williams returned kicks in high school and college, and those abilities were part of his lure in 2010, but he hasn’t returned a kick in an NFL regular season game. The last time he returned a punt or kickoff in a game setting was during the 2011 preseason that included a 52-yard touchdown against New Orleans.

“Tracking the ball is tracking the ball, whether it’s practice or a game,” Williams said. “We’ll do some drills out there to kind of advance that process, but at the end of the day, I’ve been playing football a long time so at the end of the day football is football.”

SCOUT/SOCIAL NIGHT: Some Titans viewed the Seattle-St. Louis Monday Night Football game as a scouting opportunity to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Rams, while others viewed it as a social opportunity to reunite with teammates.

The Seahawks defeated the Rams 14-9 with a goal-line stand in the final moments, halting a 12-play, 96-yard drive that started at the St. Louis 3-yard line and ended at the Seattle 1. Kellen Clemens started in place of injured QB Sam Bradford and completed 3 of 6 passes for 47 yards on the final drive, but his final attempt fell incomplete on a fourth-down play. It was just the 13th career start for the eight-year NFL veteran.

Safety Michael Griffin said watching Clemens play would be helpful for defenders in learning more about what to expect from Clemens.

“They’ve probably tweaked the offense here and there, but they’re going to continue to run the same offense,” Griffin said. “They haven’t been able to run the ball that well, but they’ve got some weapons at the receiver position like Tavon Austin and (former Titans tight end Jared) Cook, so we’ve got our work cut out for us in looking forward to more of a West Coast offense. As a secondary, we’ve got our challenges set up for us, and we’ve got to be ready to go from there.”

Receiver Kendall Wright said he and teammates planned to watch the game together but would not do much scouting from the television broadcast. Rookie center Brian Schwenke, who is preparing for his second career start, said the TV broadcast would help him a little, but he prefers to have game film.

“You get a look at personnel and get a general feel for it. In film, you can sit there and rewind and pause and rewind and pause and you get that nice end zone view,” Schwenke said. “On TV, they like to focus on the receivers and they’re all zoomed in, so you can’t see as well but you can get a general feel for what they’re doing.”

BYE WELL-TIMED: Titans players concurred that the Week 8 bye was well timed because it allowed some rest and recovery time for those who were banged up and also an opportunity for the team to regroup and refocus after three tough losses.

“Our team was banged up, had a lot of injuries, myself included so it came at a really good time, off a tough loss, but it gave us a chance to regroup and come back to work today and focus on the Rams this week,” said defensive end Derrick Morgan, who missed the Oct. 20 game against San Francisco as he recovered from a shoulder injury he suffered Oct. 6 against Kansas City.

Morgan joined other Titans on the mend in the training room for treatments during most of the week. He said he practiced fully Monday as Tennessee practiced for the first time in more than a week and targeted some aspects identified through self-scouting by the coaching staff.

“I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent better,” Morgan said. “A week is a week, but I know some guys are injured and are probably wishing we had a little more time to get back on the field but it was definitely a much-needed week, came at the right time, and I think we’re more mentally recharged than anything.”   

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