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Notebook: Titans Want to Keep Throwing Windows Open

Posted Sep 13, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans are less worried about whether the roof at Reliant Stadium will be open or closed and will be more attentive to keeping throwing windows open when Tennessee visits the Houston Texans Sunday.

Titans quarterback Jake Locker said he isn’t making drastic changes such as altering his throwing motion, but said Tennessee is aware of Houston’s affinity for batting down passes.

When the AFC South rivals last met in December at LP Field, the Texans recorded 16 passes defensed, including five by defensive linemen (two of which resulted in interceptions).

“It’s just trying to find throwing lines. I think as a quarterback you don’t want to say I’m going to change my throwing motion to try and prevent it,” Locker said. “I think it’s something you work on up front and work on getting the ball out of your hand quickly and finding throwing lanes because they are so good at it.”

Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said the threat won’t alter play calling, and Locker shouldn’t let it affect the way he’s reading his progressions.

“They’re really talented, well-coached and smart players, and they do a good job of watching the quarterback’s eyes, so it’s something we’re aware of,” Loggains said. “I don’t know how much you can do as far practice goes, but it’s part of the game and part of their game.”

Nate Washington and Kenny Britt said receivers can help Locker with the challenge by being quick and precise out of their breaks.

“The timing has to be there. You can’t take anything for granted when you’re going against a hard-fighting front seven like they have,” Washington said. “We’re going to make sure we’re getting out of our alignments, our assignments, doing everything we have to with quick precision and making sure the timing, the clock in our heads is going off a little quicker.”

In addition to the challenge of getting the ball beyond the line of scrimmage, the waving arms occasionally make it a little more difficult to receivers to pick up the flight of the ball.

“There’s some things that we’ve been working on,” Washington said. “There’s some things we’ve been aware of and understanding they do bat down balls. They do a good job of getting their hands in the passing lanes, so we have to be prepared for it.”

Third-year pro J.J. Watt became the first player in NFL history with at least 16 sacks and 16 passes defensed in one season in earning 2012 AP Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Tennessee wants to be more physical up front than it was in the most recent meeting when injuries decimated the offensive line. The Titans lost David Stewart (broken leg) and Steve Hutchinson (knee) for the rest of the season from injuries suffered during that game and had already replaced two other starters between when training camp opened and December.

“You’re trying to be aggressive, especially on the three-step stuff where the quarterback’s not as deep. So, we have to be physical,” Munchak said. “Sometimes there’s not a whole lot you can do. You hope the quarterback can find the throwing lanes because that’s a problem because usually when that gets batted up, something bad happens.

“We batted two down last week, but I don’t think we got batted by Pittsburgh. Usually they’re known for that, too,” Munchak continued. “You’re aware of it. You work on it, but you can’t get consumed by it and have it change the way you play your game. We had our hands up in practice and all that stuff to kind of close the windows for Jake (Locker) so he’s got to look elsewhere. That’s just another deal you have to overcome.”

STEWART PRACTICES: Stewart has returned from the broken leg but has been dealing with a calf injury. He didn’t practice until Saturday of last week but also didn’t miss an offensive snap in Tennessee’s season-opening win at Pittsburgh. He rested Wednesday and Thursday of this week but fully practiced Friday.

“We’re just being careful,” said Stewart, who’s been quite durable during his nine-year career, missing just eight games since becoming a starter in 2006.

“I guess (familiarity with Houston) helps, but you’ve still got to get out and get reps,” Stewart said. “You hate for the first rep to be the first snap of the game.”

Loggains said Stewart’s performance against the Steelers was “very impressive because he sucked it up when he was in a lot of pain and hobbling around a little bit and he fought through it. He knew this team needed him at that point and he gutted it out for us.”

INJURY UPDATES: Brett Kern (calf) practiced fully and is probable, and Zaviar Gooden (ankle) practiced fully and is questionable. Shonn Greene (knee) and Damian Williams (hamstring) did not practice and are questionable for Sunday’s game.

Munchak said Jackie Battle will be next in line if Greene is unable to play, and rookie Justin Hunter likely will be active if Williams isn’t available.

TICKETS PLEASE: Battle, who is from Humble, Texas, said he is excited to play so close to his hometown, even though it led to him being battered by ticket requests. He said he asked his wife to help with that, and he has friends who might straddle the fence with their allegiances.

“I’m really going to see who my real friends are this week,” Battle said. “Are they going to support me or are they going to support the Texans?”

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