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Notebook: Titans Study Jaguars Players in Expanded Roles

Posted Dec 20, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Several highly anticipated and advertised movies are released this time of year, but Titans players have spent extra time in the film room looking at lesser known footage.

Tennessee’s secondary, in particular, boosted its review because Jacksonville is dealing with a season ending injury to Cecil Shorts III and the suspension of Justin Blackmon. The Titans (5-9) visit the Jaguars (4-10) at noon (CT) Sunday.

An injury to Jacksonville's Cecil Shorts III will postpone a rematch between the receiver and Titans cornerback Jason McCourty.

“It will be totally different guys. Ace Sanders will be back there and Mike Brown is another guy we’ve played against earlier,” cornerback Jason McCourty said, “but now you have (Kerry) Taylor that’s going to be out there and Mike Brown will be in a more prominent role this time around, so you’ve got to watch more film this time around.”

Sanders leads current receivers with 41 catches for 414 yards, Brown has 24 catches for 332 yards, and Taylor has seven catches for 69 yards since he was signed by Jacksonville off Arizona’s practice squad before the Titans and Jaguars last met last month.

“Their receiving corps has been a bit banged up. Some guys have been placed on IR, and they have some other guys they’ve given opportunities to, and they’ve made some plays,” safety George Wilson said. “They definitely made some plays last week watching the film against Buffalo. They have confidence in those guys, but we know they want to come into the game on Sunday and control the clock by having a consistent run game and allowing (quarterback Chad) Henne to manage the game and get the ball to their playmakers, so we have to do a great job of winning at the line of scrimmage and making them one-dimensional.”

The Jaguars may also be without lead running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who practiced Friday after missing the first two days of the week and is questionable.

ON PACE FOR FEWER SACKS ALLOWED: Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said he was pleased with the job the offensive line did in pass protection last week against Arizona but said there’s still room for improvement in the run game.

“They did a really good job of blocking a team that can cause havoc and embarrass a lot of teams and make a lot of teams look bad,” Loggains said. “I think at one point we had eight straight runs of no gain or negative yardage and that’s something we’ve got to fix. It’s not one guy. It’s here and there, it’s everyone contributing.”

Tennessee has allowed 33 sacks this season, which is tied for eighth in the NFL and on pace to be fewer than the 39 last season.

Mike Otto's specially ordered holiday sweater.

OPPORTUNITY ON O-LINE: David Stewart has grinded through injuries the entire season, but was unable to do so this week. He missed practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and is questionable for the game. Titans coach Mike Munchak said Mike Otto and Byron Stingily each received reps but a decision hasn’t been made on who will start.

Otto has played in 60 games in six seasons and made two starts this season in place of Stewart. Stingily has played in eight games in three seasons and made two starts at the end of 2012 after Stewart  

“We’re looking at both of them. We’re trying to get (Byron) Stingily more and more reps because we would like to get him an opportunity to play,” Munchak said. “He played last year and did a pretty good job. The thing about (David) Stewart not practicing is Bryon got a lot of work. Mike didn’t really need as much because he has played both sides. That gives us a chance to play either one or both.”

Otto was particularly festive in putting on a holiday cardigan sweater that was ordered online after practice for a meeting/gift exchange with the offensive linemen. In addition to snow flakes and candy canes, the tight sweater also had lights that outlined twin snowmen.

OPTIMAL BALL FLIGHT TEMPERATURE?: The forecast for Sunday in Jacksonville is 83 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature in which the Titans/Oilers franchise hasn’t experience in a December game according to records that go back to 1991.  

Titans punter Brett Kern said he and the punt coverage teams pay attention to temperature with regard to punting plans. Kern had his strongest net punting performance of the season (48.3 yards) last week against Arizona when the temp at the start of the game was 37 degrees. He used directional punting effectively to keep the ball away from the Cardinals’ explosive return specialist Patrick Peterson and downed two of his three punts inside the Arizona 20-yard line and took a “Timeout with Amie Wells” (the adjacent video) in which he explained the “optimal ball flight temperature” and other aspects of punting.

“The optimal ball flight temperature is 72 degrees, so for every three degrees past that, the ball will travel another yard, so if it’s supposed to be (above) 80, the ball might travel another four or five yards,” Kern said. “It will be nice to have a very warm game in December.”

INJURY UPDATES: Mike Martin (ankle) was limited and is questionable, but Jurrell Casey (shoulder), Chris Johnson (knee), Brian Schwenke (ankle) and Alterraun Verner (groin) practiced fully Friday and are probable. Click here for the full injury report.

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