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Notebook: Titans Focus on Present Task

Posted Nov 8, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The “one-game-at-a-time” mantra has become a cliché at all levels of football, but it has more veracity this week for the Titans.

That’s because Tennessee’s visit to Miami Sunday will be followed by its bye week. The bye in Week 11 is the latest in the season in franchise history. The rotational off week was implemented in 1990, and the Titans believe its placement in this year’s schedule is another way of helping them focus on the present challenge from the Dolphins (4-4).

“I think that’s huge, especially for where we’re at right now,” Jason McCourty said. “If we can go out and focus and put all our attention and effort into Miami and get a win and be able to get away for a little while, maybe that will help us regroup and refocus and be ready to finish the season strong.”

Tennessee (3-6) will try to rebound from back-to-back losses with a win for the third time this season. The Titans know they have some climbing to do in the win column to move toward their goals, but they are committed to doing so.

“We still have a chance to do some things that we set out to do,” Jordan Babineaux said. “That’s the biggest thing is that we’re not physically out of it. Will it be tough? Yeah, certainly, but you know, with that being said, with our last seven games, there’s no reason we can’t win them all.

“We are where we are, and we certainly can’t think about the things that got us to this point,” Babineaux added. “The only thing we can do is learn from them and be better at moving forward throughout the rest of the season.”

Turnovers and time of possession, which often have considerable overlap, have been focal points this week. Tennessee suffered four fumbles, including three inside its own 20-yard line, and an interception returned for a touchdown last week against Chicago.

The five turnovers were more than the Titans committed in their four previous games combined, and caused them to hold the ball less than 23 minutes against the Bears, for their second lowest time of possession this season. Tennessee’s average time of possession is 26:10 per game, which ranks last in the NFL.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said he’s seeing things that are going well during games, but Tennessee must build on those and do them more often. 

“Overall, we have to get off the field (on defense), and we have to stay on the field on the other side,” Munchak said. “I think that will help with a huge part of what the defense is doing. They’ve been out there way too much, some of their own fault and some of the offense’s fault. If we could just fix that category as a team, I think we’re going to win a lot more football games.”

Turnovers also have had a direct effect on the Dolphins, who have been plus-1 in turnover ratio in each of their wins and even or negative in the category in each of their losses.

The Titans consider Miami’s Ryan Tannehill as a player with more experience than most rookie quarterbacks because Tannehill’s offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was his college coach at Texas A&M, and the Dolphins are running the same West Coast offensive scheme.  Tannehill has thrown six interceptions this season but has gone 98 pass attempts without one.

“He’s back there and doesn’t look like a rookie quarterback at all,” McCourty said. “There’s times when he’s making the calls at the line of scrimmage or he’s familiar with the offense and has his offensive coordinator from college, so you can tell how comfortable he is at knowing where their guys are and being able to make plays.”

The Titans had three sacks against Chicago despite falling behind early and will obviously try to challenge Tannehill, who gets rid of the ball faster than Bears QB Jay Cutler.

“He does a great job of knowing where he wants to go with the ball,” Wimbley said. “He gets the ball out of there. He’s familiar with the offense he’s running, so we know we’ll have our hands full and we’ve got to just basically be firing on all cylinders. We’ve got to get off the ball quick because he’s not going to hold it.”  

LOCKER SEES ‘LIVE FIRE’: Munchak said the Titans tried to put Jake Locker through as much “live fire” as possible Thursday in the second-year QB’s second full practice since dislocating his left, non-throwing shoulder for the second time in four weeks on Sept. 30.

“Today was a good practice with pads on, a lot of two-minute and some plays to win the game, good competition periods where he got as close to live fire as you can get I think, with the pocket closing around him, getting bumped a little bit,” Munchak said. “I thought all that was real good for him to get a feel for that.”

Titans quarterbacks always wear red, no-contact jerseys during practice, but Wimbley inadvertently bumped into Locker from behind and knocked him to the ground Thursday. Locker jumped right back up without a hitch, and is likely to make his fifth career start Sunday if he doesn’t encounter any setbacks.

“The defensive line does a great job, I think, of going around the pocket,” Munchak said. “He got bumped into there. It was good. We didn’t really want that, but we got that. So I think that’s good for his confidence too. That didn’t really bother him at all. It was good and competitive. It was live around the pocket, which is what it’s going to be like on Sunday, other than they can tackle him. I thought that was good work for him to at least experience that.”

WYNN WILL BE IN MIX: Jarius Wynn, who signed with the Titans this week, will be in the eight-man defensive line rotation this week, Munchak said.

The Titans are anticipating warm weather and will want to keep players as fresh as possible. Munchak said the Titans hope Wynn will play roughly eight to 12 snaps.

Wynn, a native of Augusta, Ga., and former Georgia Bulldog spent his first three seasons in Green Bay. He played 36 games with the Packers, who released him after training camp this season.

“It’s a great feeling, especially being out for weeks,” Wynn said. “I appreciate the organization for bring me in and giving me a chance, and I’m going to make my best of this opportunity.”

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