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Notebook: Titans Position Battles Rolling On

Posted Aug 27, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s still wait-and-see at C and CB in the Titans’ starting lineup.

With training camp winding down and the preseason finale at Minnesota set for Thursday, Titans coach Mike Munchak said the team was waiting to name a starter at the center and right cornerback positions.

“We’re going to probably wait until at least the next couple of days to decide what we’re going to do about the center spot, I think, as far as officially doing anything just because the guys aren’t going to be playing much this game,” Munchak said. “So, there wasn’t really a big hurry there. Same thing at corner. We’ll work our way through probably the next couple of days then decide.”

The Titans started Rob Turner at center and Alterraun Verner at cornerback Saturday against Atlanta. Rookie Brian Schwenke, who returned from a hamstring injury, relieved Turner in the third quarter and played the rest of his NFL debut at the position. Tennessee played Fernando Velasco and Chris Spencer, who have also competed for the center spot, at its guard positions after removing starters Andy Levitre and Chris Spencer.

Verner, Tennessee’s starter opposite Jason McCourty in 2012, has competed with Tommie Campbell throughout camp for the same role. Verner started against Washington and Atlanta, and Campbell started against Cincinnati but also had snaps with the first-team against the Falcons. Munchak said coaches had not decided on playing time for either against the Vikings.

McCARTHY STILL ON TRACK: Munchak and Colin McCarthy said the linebacker remained on track to play his first preseason action of 2013 at Minnesota.

“Oh yeah, ready to go,” said McCarthy, who added he feels like he has a good grasp on Tennessee’s defense and wants to prove it against the Vikings where he’s not likely to start but is likely to enter the game in the first quarter.

“Yeah, he’s doing well,” Munchak said. “He wants to play in a bad way. He wants to get back out there and needs to, and we’re kind of happy for him to get to play, so you’ll probably see him play, if things feel good, you’ll probably see him play a half and get as many reps as we can give him.”

ROSTER REDUCTIONS: The Titans waived 13 players on Monday, moving the roster count from the 90 players allowed during training camp to 77. Tennessee must lower that number to 75 players by 3 p.m. CT Tuesday and to 53 by 5 p.m. Saturday.

Munchak said the Titans approached the first wave of cuts with current injuries (Sammie Hill and Ropati Pitoitua on the defensive line likely won’t play Thursday) in mind and the desire to have enough players at each position group to allow starters to play less this week.   

“It’s the hardest week in football, I think,” Munchak said. “There’s this cut and then obviously the cut this weekend. The good thing is a lot of these guys will have an opportunity this Thursday night, one last shot to make a difference and make the club.”

Munchak said there’s probably “three to five spots max” that are still up for grabs on the 53-man roster.

“It’s tough. There are some really close battles with things we’ve been looking at and health has become a concern,” Munchak said. “You start looking at the 46-man roster also on game day with who’s going to suit up against Pittsburgh. You’re weighing all those factors to make that decision.”

WALKER INCREASES PARTICIPATION: Delanie Walker continued to increase participation Monday, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll make his Titans debut against the Vikings.

“We’re kind of going to see how things go this week for him,” Munchak said. “He’s doing more each day. Like (Monday), we didn’t do a ton of things, but he got a lot of reps on both sides of the ball. (Tuesday) it’ll be more of a full day, so we’ll see how he handles that. I know he wants to play. He wants to get on the field, so we’ll just kind of see how he responds after tomorrow then decide.”

The versatile tight end said he had a few catches and his ultimate goal is to be ready for all the “opportunities I want” against Pittsburgh on Sept. 8 in the season opener for both teams.

“I felt good at practice,” Walker said. “The coaches said I look better. I feel like my knees are getting under me. I feel strong and whatever they want me to do this week I’ll do it. If they want to wait for Pittsburgh, I’ll be ready for Pittsburgh.”

TRIMMING TIME: Munchak said coaches opted to reduce the amount of reps Monday to shorten practice because of the amount of time the starters played against Atlanta and having a short week to prepare for Minnesota.

“We got all our meetings in this morning, watched some tape and got a head start on the Vikings,” Munchak said. “We came out today and worked cards, and it went a little quicker than usual.”

NOTES: Kenny Britt did not practice, and Munchak said the Titans are likely to manage Britt’s practice load from time to time this season and balance it with conditioning workouts with strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson. … Munchak said Collin Mooney is likely to handle all fullback duties again this week in place of Quinn Johnson (hamstring). … Shonne Greene (ankle soreness) did not practice Monday, and his status for Thursday had not been determined. … Kendall Wright (knee), Markelle Martin (hamstring), Zach Brown (foot), Akeem Ayers (ankle) and Marc Mariani (shoulder) did not practice.

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