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Notebook: Debate Among Titans Coaches Part of Making Roster Decisions

Posted Aug 30, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Decisions made from the sidelines during games are often publicized but not the only time football coaches have to make tough choices. Titans coach Mike Munchak said his staff is debating multiple options as it reduces the roster to 53 players by 5 p.m. CT Saturday.

The Titans moved through another wave of cuts, announcing 10 players were waived Friday as Tennessee and all other NFL teams streamlined their rosters, but the process isn’t over yet.

Coach Mike Munchak, his staff and the personnel department must take the roster from 65 to 53 by 5 p.m. CT Saturday through a “debate” process.

“Everyone has an opinion, especially if you are a position coach,” Munchak said. “You have a close relationship with certain players and why that person may be important to be a part of the team and why we should carry an extra person at that position. They understand everyone is going to make their pitch for what they think is best and why. The coordinators are both going to have the biggest say for the offense and defense and what helps them call their game or run their defense on Sunday.”

Position coaches will present their cases for all the players they want to stay, but it is inevitable that the depth Tennessee added this offseason will leave some quality football players on the outside looking in. Munchak said he expects some of the 10 players — S Al Afalava, T Daniel Baldridge, TE Brandon Barden, DT Zach Clayton, LB Gary Guyton, DT DaJohn Harris, DE Nigel Nicholas, RB Jalen Parmele, G Kasey Studdard, WR Dontel Watkins — that Tennessee waived Friday and the ones that are cut Saturday likely will wind up on rosters of other teams.

Munchak is preparing for his third season as Titans, but what many consider the “most difficult week in football,” presents challenges because of emotional investment that’s occurred since the team has been working since April and the amount of strategy and scenarios to “finish the puzzle” by assigning a handful of remaining spots.  

“It is trying to decide how many guys to keep at a couple of the spots and a lot of times that is usually on the defensive side of the ball because of special teams whether it be the defensive back area or linebackers,” Munchak said. “There have been some injury issues there at linebacker so you are trying to decide if we need to keep a couple of extra people there. That is probably the main area.

“The offense is pretty much, other than receiver, a lot of time that is the one every year you are looking at and quarterback, do you keep two or do you keep three? If I had to pick one I would maybe say the linebackers just because of the health with where we are at,” Munchak continued. “Last year, I think we carried seven linebackers and one less DB. Those are the combinations now that we are looking at and what our options are. Then you look at those 53 and you are going to play Pittsburgh, who is going to suit up? Who are the 46? You start working on that with Nate Kaczor, the special teams coach, and start figuring out with our plan to beat Pittsburgh, how many of these guys will be up?”

McCARTHY INCREASES COMFORT LEVEL: Munchak said Colin McCarthy, who played Thursday in his first game since November, needed to adjust to the speed of the game and did so quickly.

“He got in that second quarter, and that’s the first time he played out there in a while,” Munchak said. “I thought the second half he felt much more comfortable. We just got to keep playing. The good news is he felt healthy that way. He didn’t feel limited at all because of the injury he had or the injuries he’s had. So, I think that was good for him going forward. Now he needs to get back in the grind, and we have to find ways for him to contribute and help us to win (at Pittsburgh).”

AYERS,BROWN PROGRESSING: Munchak said the team is encouraged by the progress of strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers (ankle) and weakside linebacker Zach Brown (foot). Ayers and Brown have

“The way the workouts have been going the last couple of days, everything looks real positive, but again that becomes part of that uncertainty and nothing is guaranteed obviously,” Munchak said. “We feel real good about it.”

STARTERS TO BE NAMED SOON: Munchak said he wouldn’t be ready to announce starters at center or right cornerback until he had a chance to talk with the players.

Tennessee started Rob Turner in three of four preseason games at center and Fernando Velasco in the other. Velasco and Chris Spencer, however, played at the guard spots in each of the past two games as Turner was replaced by rookie Brian Schwenke.

The Titans opted to start Alterraun Verner and Tommie Campbell at the cornerback spots and rest Jason McCourty in the preseason finale at Minnesota. Verner started three of four preseason games, and Campbell started two and played a significant amount of time with the first team against Atlanta.

Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said this week that the position battle may be determined week to week based on an opponent’s strengths and style of play.

Game Rewind: Tennessee Titans

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