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Notebook: Titans Balance Family Time, Football on Holiday

Posted Dec 25, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ryan Fitzpatrick said Titans players turned their focus from family to football for a few hours Wednesday, getting enough accomplished to begin game plan preparations for Sunday’s season finale against the Texans.

The veteran QB and father of four said the day was a “weird … because it’s Christmas, so a lot of family and different things pulling guys in different directions,” but added the team “had a good work day.”

“I felt like it was a good day with all the circumstances that are going on, but hopefully the next couple of days we’ll be able to dig in and I think everyone’s focus is in the right spot,” Fitzpatrick said.

Titans coach Mike Munchak altered this week’s schedule to create a window on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning for players and staff to spend time with their loved ones while trying to accomplish a considerable amount.

“They were here yesterday for three hours to get started on this,” Munchak said. “Coming in (later than normal) today allowed them to have enough time with their families, which was good. We’re only here for four hours today, so I think it was a good break, a good start for us for our first day. I thought it went well.”

Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains meets with quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rusty Smith and Tyler Wilson during Sunday's game.

Each Wednesday of the season that precedes a Sunday game is important because it’s the first day of game plan installation. The Titans do a considerable amount of preparation for first and second down offensive and defensive plays on Wednesdays.   

The Titans (6-9) are trying to win their second in a row after defeating the Jaguars 20-16 last week in Jacksonville. The Texans (2-13) are trying to avoid losing their 14th game in a row.

Fitzpatrick’s favorite target last week was Nate Washington, who caught six passes for 117 yards and the game-winning score. It was Washington’s third game this season with more than 100 receiving yards one week after he had seven catches for 92 yards and Kendall Wright had 12 catches for 150 yards against Arizona. Rookie Justin Hunter has had a pair of 100-yard games, and tight end Delanie Walker has been a consistent target throughout the season. Fitzpatrick said he’s enjoyed having so many options to pick from to attack an opposing defense.

“I think (who gets the ball the most in a game is) week-to-week game plan but it also speaks for the talent that we have at receiver because Nate had a great week of practice, but you never know, going into a game, who would have the most targets, the most yards,” Fitzpatrick said. “You think Kendall, or Delanie, maybe Justin with some of the stuff we have him doing, but all of a sudden Justin doesn’t have that many targets and Nate has a big game. I think it speaks more to the talent level in (the receivers) room. I’m fortunate enough to have those guys out there and to be able to throw to them. Any one of them could go for a hundred-yard game on any Sunday.”

Washington said the week of preparation is important to what happens during games.

“It’s always a good opportunity for them to see us working during the week so when you’re able to get those looks in the week, it gives you the opportunity to go and put it into play during the game,” Washington said.

STINGILY LIKELY TO START AGAIN: Munchak said Byron Stingily is likely to make his second consecutive start at right tackle in place of veteran David Stewart (shoulder). Stewart and Jurrell Casey (knee) were the only two players who didn’t practice Wednesday.

“I imagine we’ll go with Byron (Stingily), give Byron the start,” Munchak said. “Byron did a nice job last week in the game. He and Chance (Warmack) worked well together, so this will be a great test for him to get a chance to play against some very good football players.”

CASEY HOPING TO PLAY: Casey suffered a knee injury against the Jaguars but is optimistic he’ll be able to play in the finale.

“I’ll go out there (the rest of the week) and see how everything is feeling and if it’s all working out, then I’ll be out there Sunday,” said Casey, who leads the Titans with 10.5 sacks this season, which is tied with Buffalo’s Kyle Williams for the most in the NFL by a defensive tackle and tied for 11th in the league.

Casey said he didn’t have a last-minute stump speech for his candidacy for this year’s Pro Bowl, for which voting is set to end Dec. 26.

“No speeches for me,” Casey said. “If I’m in, I’m in, if I’m not, I’m not. That’s the way it goes.”

Click here to vote for Casey, Wright, Walker, Alterraun Verner and other Titans.

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