NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ken Whisenhunt addressed reporters Wednesday during a media session in which the new Titans coach spoke about Tennessee’s signing of Dexter McCluster and covered other topics relating to free agency.
That versatility prompted quick comparisons between McCluster (5-foot-8 ¼, 170 pounds) and Danny Woodhead (5-8, 200), who had career highs of 106 rushes and 76 receptions (30 catches resulted in first downs) last season in San Diego where Whisenhunt was the Chargers’ offensive coordinator. McCluster has caught at least 46 passes in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 53 last season (28 of the 53 resulted in first downs).
“I think it’s kind of hard to compare those two. Danny had a great year for us last year in San Diego,” Whisenhunt said. “I think there’s a lot of things that are similar from the standpoint of, you know, he’s not quite has big as Danny is, but he’s made some explosive plays. He does some things in space that you really like, so I think he’s a guy that’s made some big plays in the league and we get a chance to try to work some things out for him to do for us.”
McCluster said he likes Woodhead’s style: “great guy, high motor, kind of the same physical stature — we’re both tall (laughing at the last part),” and the results he produced last season.
“It had me very excited to go back and watch the success that (Woodhead) had with (Whisenhunt) and knowing you might be able to do the same thing,” McCluster said.
WOODS BECOMES A TITAN: A few hours after introducing McCluster as their first signee of 2014 free agency, the Titans announced they had agreed to terms with former Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Al Woods.
The addition of Woods will add depth to the defensive line as new defensive coordinator Ray Horton will be installing a hybrid defense with components of a 3-4 front like the one Woods recently played in and a 4-3. Prior to the announcement, Whisenhunt was asked where the Titans will play defensive tackles
“I know Jurrell has the flexibility to play inside and outside. That gives us the opportunity to do a lot of things with him, and I know Sammie has done some good things, just from what I’ve seen on tape at different points in time,” Whisenhunt said. “I know Ray, he’ll do anything. Those guys could all be standing up at one point, so we’re not going to tie ourselves into saying they’re going to be in this spot or that spot.”
CHANGE AT CORNER: Whisenhunt also addressed the departure of cornerback Alterraun Verner through free agency to Tampa Bay and the ensuing competition the Titans will hold for the starting spot opposite
“There’s a lot of good opportunities for players to come in and get a chance to compete for a spot,” Whisenhunt said. “If you look at our corner, we’ve got two young guys that we really like that are going to get a chance to compete for it. It’s a credit to (Titans general manager) Ruston Webster and his staff for having the forethought to draft those guys. There’s going to be situations, whether we’re bringing guys in or giving opportunity to some guys that are already on the team.”
Whisenhunt said Verner was “great” in the way he handled the free agency process, even though it ended with the 2010 fourth-round pick’s decision to sign with the Buccaneers.
“I can see why he’s so well-liked around here because he’s such a great pro and we had an opportunity to try to get into (the bidding), and ultimately, unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” Whisenhunt said. “But we felt comfortable enough with the players we have on our roster that we can compete for somebody to get that spot.”
Whisenhunt said he’s gathered information from coaches who worked with returning Titans players, watched film and had some discussions about filling that spot.
“Just from sitting in a room with Coty and talking with him, I’m excited to see him,” Whisenhunt said. “I know from watching him on tape as an opponent and scouting him that there were qualities you really liked about him and he can play. Now, he gets his chance. At some point, that’s got to happen and we get a chance to see that.”