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Notebook: Titans Focus on Run Fits

Posted Nov 29, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When the Titans studied film from their last game against the Colts they saw run fits that they needed to fix.

Defenders will have an opportunity to do that when Tennessee (5-6) visits AFC South-leading Indianapolis (7-4) at noon (CT) Sunday, just two games after falling 30-27 to the Colts at home.

The Titans limited the Raiders to 93 rushing yards for the game one week after the Colts rushed for 99 yards in the second half.

“It’s still kind of fresh,” linebacker Akeem Ayers said. “We get a chance to fix our mistakes early, rather than late to try to get a chance to redeem ourselves, especially with the way the game started off for us real good and we didn’t finish as well as we would have liked.”

Linebacker Moise Fokou missed the last game but is excited to play against his former team in a game that is incredibly important to the Titans’ chances of making the postseason.

The Titans allowed 99 rushing yards to Indianapolis in the second half after limiting the Colts to 38 rushing yards in the first half.

“In that last game we played against them they did a great job of kind of beating us up with the run toward the end as soon as they got the lead,” Fokou said. “That was mostly due to some of our minor mistakes. We need to make sure we’re gap sound in the run game and assignment sound. I think that’s going to be one of our major keys this week, to make sure we’re playing gap-sound football and don’t give them anywhere to run to.”

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said the front seven defenders have focused on filling the holes they expect the Colts to try to create.

“We’ve got to make sure we close the holes because they do a lot of pulling where they switch gaps,” Casey said. “We’ve got to close those gaps so they don’t have lanes to squeeze through, and our linebackers have to make sure they come downhill and fill in the extra gap.”

Titans coach Mike Munchak said Colts RB Donald Brown did a good job of hitting the holes with a burst in the first game. Brown had 80 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. The 2009 first-round pick has six career games with 80 or more rushing yards and three have come against the Titans.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re wrapping up and make sure we make the tackles, don’t try to butt him down with just a shoulder,” Casey said. “He’s not real big, but he’s a physical dude. He runs hard so it’s going to be our job to make sure we’re making those tackles if it’s gang tackling or taking out the legs, you’ve got to find a way to get him down.”

Last week, the Titans limited the Raiders to 93 rushing yards, which was 52 yards below their season average through their first 10 games.

Ayers said Tennessee needs to be more consistent in stopping the run down the stretch.

“We really focused on it this week and we really went over our run fits and want to focus on everybody in the front seven being disciplined and fitting where they’re supposed to be and understanding the type of runs we’re going to get,” Ayers said. “Being ahead of the plays is the main thing.”

RUNNING WILD: The television program in which Titans running back Chris Johnson and Bears DB Devin Hester race a cheetah is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. (CT) Friday on Nat Geo Wild. Johnson has kept the results a secret while trying to build suspense among teammates.

“It’s a lot of people excited about it and ready to watch it,” Johnson said. “They’re curious as to who won the race like everybody else.” Click here to see a preview video of the program.

SAFETY COMBO: Munchak said George Wilson is likely to start in the absence of Michael Griffin, who is serving a one-game suspension, but the Titans will use different combinations according to the packages the defense is implementing on a particular play. He said Wilson and Bernard Pollard could alternate between strong and free safety at times, and Gray said rookie Daimion Stafford may also get more opportunities.

“We’d rather have him, but we’ll be OK,” Munchak said. “The whole thing is when you go lean in certain spots or you lack experience, it’s all about not picking up an injury early in the game where it becomes more affected than it is right now.”

STEVENS, WILLIAMS OUT: Craig Stevens (concussion) and Damian Williams (hip) have been ruled out for Sunday’s game, leaving the Titans with two tight ends (Delanie Walker and Taylor Thompson).

Munchak said the absence of Stevens shouldn’t limit what Tennessee wants to do on offense unless another injury occurs. If that happened, it’s possible that Mike Otto or Chris Spencer could line up at tight end on certain packages.

Kendall Wright (ankle), Brian Schwenke (ankle) and Pollard (illness) practiced fully Friday and are probable. Sammie Hill (back) fully practiced and is questionable, and David Stewart was limited and is questionable for Sunday’s game.

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