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Notebook: Titans WRs Prep for Physical Seahawks DBs

Posted Oct 9, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s not uncommon for Titans receivers, running backs and tight ends to put in extra work after by catching passes from a machine, but receivers coach Shawn Jefferson added an element to the drill Wednesday.

Jefferson wore sleeve pads and badgered receivers with arm fighting as they battled for each ball, illustrating the level of contact the Titans expect from the defenders in the Seahawks’ secondary, who often use their size and physicality in “press-man” coverage, when Tennessee (3-2) visits Seattle (4-1) at 3:05 p.m. (CT) Sunday.

Seattle’s strongest position group of its defense is arguably its secondary, with CB Richard Sherman (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), SS Kam Chancellor (6-3, 232) and FS Earl Thomas (5-10, 202) each recording two interceptions so far this season. Sherman won NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for September, and he and Thomas are trying to repeat their All-Pro selections from a year ago. Chancellor, Thomas and CB Brandon Browner (6-4, 221) have Pro Bowls under their belts.  

“Getting out of the press is going to be vital,” receiver Nate Washington said. “These guys, of course, are a press type of team. They have some bigger corners, so we’ll make sure we’re tight on our technique and the things we’re supposed to do to counteract those teams. They’re going to be playing with their crowd behind them so we’re going to have to make sure we’re technique sound.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said “it’s always been my goal to have really good guys on the outside so you can utilize your safeties wherever you need them.”  

“You have a high regard for what you have on the outside and the guys that can make plays gives you a lot of opportunities to mix plays and other stuff,” Carroll said. “It happens that we’re very fortunate to have Earl Thomas back there in the middle and Kam Chancellor running around making his plays. The whole group is a very aggressive, physical group, and they’ve put it together.”

Tight end Delanie Walker is quite familiar with the Seahawks from playing against them two times a season when he was with San Francisco.

“They’re very physical, have great technique, play hard til the whistle,” Walker said of Seahawks CBs. “They do like to talk a lot too and try to take you out of the game. We’ve got to have better technique than them, play hard and run great routes against them.

“They’ve got good safeties as well,” Walker added. “Their safeties like to come down and press the tight end. All around, they’ve got some great DBs. We’ve just got to play our football, play physical Titans football and win when the battles come to us one-on-one and make the catches when they come to us.”

The Titans have played more press-man coverage this season, giving their receivers more looks at that technique during all of the offseason program and training camp. Titans coach Mike Munchak said he’s hoping that will help receivers, who need to create better separation from defenders to help Ryan Fitzpatrick in his second start for injured QB Jake Locker.

“It helps, but until you get into the game and go against these guys — these guys are much bigger than our corners,” Munchak said. “Just like last week on the Chiefs the corners were pretty big guys. Plus, the weather last week was a factor. When it’s damp, it’s wet and a little slower. It was hard to get off those big guys last week. I think it’ll be different as far as their traction and their cuts will be sharper. I think their routes will be a little crisper, which should help us.”

RISING COMFORT: Last week marked Fitzpatrick’s 69th start in the NFL but first as a Titan. He and teammates said comfort is continuing to rise, which should help Tennessee start faster than it did against Kansas City.

The first six pass attempts for Fitzpatrick fell incomplete, and Tennessee’s first five possessions were three-and-punts.

“It was a tough start in terms of finding that first completion but I thought it got better as the game went on,” Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t know if it was timing or me getting out there in that role with a different set of guys, but I think the more we work together, the better it’s going to get. There’s definitely a better comfort level this week than there was last week because I’ve been through it now for a week.”

Washington said Fitzpatrick is “getting more and more comfortable” with the offense.

“It’s not just about the rhythm with Fitzpatrick. It’s everything. It’s us as receivers making sure we’re in the right spot at the right time, the offensive line blocking properly for him, CJ (Chris Johnson) or whatever running back is in there picking up his block or getting out on his release. It’s everybody. It’s not just Ryan having to match up with the timing.”

BRITT RECEIVING SUPPORT: Kenny Britt had one catch on six targets against the Chiefs after what multiple people said was a great week of practice.

“I’m a competitive guy and I know I can do better than I did on Sunday,” Britt said. “There were some plays I left on the field and I know it’s not me.”

The fifth-year receiver said he didn’t think he attacked the ball as aggressively in the game as he did in practice and that will be an area of focus this week.

“All my teammates are supportive, every last one of them,” Britt said. “They see me come in week in and week out and do it on the practice field and they’re wondering what’s happening in the game.”

FILLING IN AT NICKEL:  Coty Sensabaugh did not practice Wednesday because of a concussion he suffered against Kansas City. The nickel back, however, was able to do some running on the side field and is believed to be on track to practice Thursday and play against Seattle, Munchak said.

After Sensabaugh left the game against the Chiefs, the Titans moved Alterraun Verner to nickel to cover slot receivers and Tommie Campbell to right cornerback opposite Jason McCourty. Munchak said the Titans primarily did that again Wednesday when the Titans were in that package.

INJURIES MOUNT: In addition to Sensabaugh and Locker, seven other Titans did not practice Wednesday: Patrick Bailey, Zaviar Gooden and Blidi Wreh-Wilson (hamstrings), Sammie Hill and David Stewart (ankles), Shonn Greene (knee) and Derrick Morgan (shoulder). Locker is the only player who has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. 

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