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Ruston Webster, Mike Munchak Introduce New Titans at Press Conference

Posted Mar 13, 2013



(opening statement)

I appreciate everybody being here today. It’s a big day for us here at the Titans. We’ve all worked very hard to put together a good group of free agents; hopefully this is just the start of it, moving into the draft and moving forward for next year. I’m very excited about this group. We had a plan. It really started with Andy (Levitre). I’ve said all along that we were going to try to upgrade the offensive line and get better there and improve in that area.  Defensively, Sammie Hill is a big plus for us. He’s able to give us a big presence in the middle and somebody that not only is big, but also athletic. Shonn Greene, we were looking for a big back to complement Chris (Johnson), and Shonn is the back that we targeted. He played well against us on Monday Night Football. I’ve watched Shonn play since he was in college at Iowa and thought a lot of him there. I told him I saw him play in a bowl game in Tampa that senior year. I’m excited to have him, and then Delanie Walker, who is not here (yet) because he’s upstairs signing his contract right now but will be, again, another good player for us. We liked the fit. Last year, we kind of looked for one of those type of tight ends that we could move, play more of an ‘H’ back role. He can play several different spots for us, play the wing, play the fullback, split out and play in the slot, play outside the numbers. He’s done all of that and gives us a lot of versatility in both run and pass. We’re excited about these guys.


(opening statement)

Titans general manager Ruston Webster, from left, G Andy Levitre, RB Shonn Greene, DT Sammie Lee Hill, TE Delanie Walker and coach Mike Munchak.

I want to thank Ruston and (Vice President of Football Administration) Vin Marino and the coaching staff. They did a great job to this point. A lot of work was put into this. This was something that, as you guys know I talked about the coaching changes; this is something you start targeting when the season ends and start looking as a staff on how you’re going to rebuild your team. We finished the staff part about a month ago, and now it’s all about rebuilding the roster, what our needs were and how we could do it between free agency and the draft and how to best blend that with trying to find leadership with some of these veteran players and with the draft. As Ruston said, we’re very excited today to get a lot of the guys that we talked about and targeted. I think the main thing we’re looking at is to become a tough, physical football team and create an identity and look for that type of players that help us do that again. You see these guys here (Andy Levitre, Shonn Greene and Sammie Lee Hill) and when Delanie (Walker) comes in, that’s a trait that I think is common in all of them, no matter what position they play. They love the game, they have a passion for it, they bring leadership along with their football ability. That’s the part that excited us the most as we started targeting different guys we thought would be great fits. I just want to say the guys did a great job to this point and we’ve still got some work ahead of us, but we’re really excited to have these guys in town. They had a chance to come in today. It’s kind of a tough process because we were obviously negotiating without having them in the building, which made it even harder, so it was great for us to have them here and a chance to finally meet them all. We’ve played against a lot of them. I’ve talked to a lot of them. I talked to Andy—I was coaching offensive line when he came out of Oregon State. I had a chance to meet him then and watch his career. As Ruston said, he was someone we felt, having played four years, having started for four years with Buffalo, and you get a chance to watch the crossover film quite a bit and I knew how well he was playing. We knew he was a guy that would be a great fit here, not only what he can do on the field, but obviously the way he can help us in the locker room and on the practice field, so that really excited us. We talked about getting size; I think you all see that right there in Sammie. The guy’s about 300—and we don’t ask—but 330 or so, a guy we played against this year. (He’s) hard to move, can play the nose tackle, can play the “three” technique, can cave the pocket in. There’s nothing worse for an offensive line, as Andy knows and I know from playing, than to have a guy that size pushing you and closing the pocket. It makes the quarterback uncomfortable. We feel he can play all three downs if necessary, so we’re excited about that and the push he can get. That makes your outside rushers even more valuable. If we have speed guys on the edge, and we get push in the middle, the quarterback can’t step up. Then, all of a sudden, the outside rush is a big problem. If you all recall, we had that back in the day with some of the bigger guys we had inside, where all of a sudden Jevon Kearse and guys like that were getting a lot of sacks because of push in the middle and the quarterback had nowhere else to go. So that was something we’ve been targeting and this is a great fit for us. Sammie was a great fit for us there. Obviously, Shonn Greene, back when we talked when the season ended about, ‘How do you establish an identity?’ We needed a heavy running back to complement what we’ve had. We’ve had that in the past. We feel that Shonn can play all three downs. He’s not here for a particular reason. Obviously, he’s good in short-yard, goal-line situations, but we feel he’s a back that’s good in all three downs. I love the way he runs. It’s downhill, it’s second-and-six, second-and-four, second-and-five when you look up after a first-down run. That’s the game that was missing in our offense, so we felt that was a great addition. And then, Delanie Walker, who’s not here yet, I think Ruston touched on that, again we were looking in our offense and needed to have a guy that was very comfortable moving around and creating, moving from the backfield to the slot, moving outside the numbers. He can play with his speed, plays hard, plays physical, plays well on special teams. He can run. He can do a lot of things that we’ve done in the past with tight ends, where we’ve created a lot of success, a lot of matchup problems with guys like him, so we’re just real excited with what we’re getting and we feel these four guys are a great fit. We didn’t talk about George Wilson, who obviously we signed a few weeks back, a safety that we’re real excited about also. He’s part of this group and as Ruston said, we’ve still got some work ahead of us, but this is a great start for us and we’re just real excited to have these guys here as part of the team. You’re going to hear a lot about these guys as we go forward and hopefully we’ll have a lot of wins for the Titans.


(on if it is more difficult to evaluate a reserve player like Sammie Hill)

Not really, you just look for those traits.  Every player has certain traits that set him apart and Sammie has a lot of traits – he has power, he’s athletic, he has quickness for a big man.  That is what you look for and however much they are playing or whether they are starting or not starting that is kind of the key.  He also played on a good defensive line with some high picks in front of him, so that is part of it too.  We just look for the traits in players and his traits fit what we need.

(on if he felt pressure to land free agents from the start of free agency)

We worked really hard to convince their agents that we wanted them here and this was the right place for them.  Yeah, I felt pressure.  I felt pressure all weekend because I wanted to get these guys.  We were excited and I got my man (Mike Munchak) over my shoulder here wondering what was going on.  I felt a little pressure, but it was fun.  Vin Marino worked very hard on the negotiation end and our coaches worked hard.  It all worked out well and really these guys with Delanie (Walker), they were the plan and it has come together.

(on if the Titans are done in free agency)

Maybe in terms of a flurry, but I wouldn’t say we are completely done.


(on why he chose the Titans)

There were a lot of factors that played into it.  There were a couple of teams to choose between, but every time I talked to my agent, the more that I talked about Nashville and the town and the people, the coaching staff, there were just a lot of positive things.  When it came down to making a decision, every time we talked about free agency the Titans came up and they were in it.  I just feel like it was a really good fit for me, especially being able to be coached but two Hall of Fame offensive linemen.  You won’t find that anywhere else in the league, so it is a great opportunity for me.


(on why he chose the Titans)

For me, just to piggyback off of Andy, when I talked to Coach (Munchak) on the phone, he sounded very sincere with everything he wanted me to do here.  Just being in a situation with CJ (Chris Johnson) here I have been in that situation before and it has worked out well for me as well as the other back.  I just think it was a perfect fit and not to mention they were the first people to actually reach out during free agency.  When you get that you can’t describe it.  A lot of teams say this, that and the other, but then you don’t hear from them.  Tennessee stuck with me, so that was my main thing.


(on why he chose the Titans)

I can say the same thing that they just said, but being given the opportunity to come in and play.  They have a great fan base and just Nashville and me being close to home because I’m from Alabama.  They played a real big part of it for me and my family.  The coaching staff … like you said to piggyback off of the rest of them, it was a great opportunity and they were the first team to call and show interest.  I just enjoyed going through this.


(on when the first calls were made)

We were able to contact their agents.  As soon as we could, we started making calls.


(on the key to making the two-back system work)

I think we just both got to know our role.  Coach (Munchak) has explained that to me.  Then you get the hot hand at times, whoever has the hot hand is going to go.  I know for me that this is CJ’s backfield and I’m just here willing to help this team get wins.  I’m pretty fine with that.


(on if this presents a good opportunity)

I think so, I mean we had two great defensive tackles, actually three with Corey Williams too.  Playing behind them I had to take on my role and given this opportunity to come and play a lot more and know exactly what they want me to do.  I’m comfortable with them.


(on how he hopes to implement the two-back system)

I think those are questions as we get going working together we will work our way through.  I think like I said a second ago, the thinking here more is that the type of back we wanted was a guy like Shonn that has been in a system similar like he said where he is used to the two backs carrying the ball and the fact that there may be times when he gets more opportunities one week than the next.  CJ is obviously our main back and will be and continue to be, just like when CJ came in with LenDale (White).  There were games LenDale had 10 or 15 carries and it depends on what kind of game is going on, the flow of the game and what is happening, who we are playing against, what the plan is, as far as how many carries one back will get as opposed to the other.  We kind of want to stay away from worrying about that like, ‘we brought Shonn in and he is only going to do certain things and only get certain reps,’ I think we will just kind of let that play out.  I think it is great competition for each other when you have two veterans together rather than having CJ necessarily with a rookie or a young guy.  We wanted to get someone in here who was a veteran, who was the type of runner that Shonn is.  That is what we are excited about. 


(on his thoughts of Chris Johnson)

I think he is a phenomenal player.  He is very explosive.  He is very talented.  He can takeoff whenever.  I think just with our different styles, we can keep defenses on their toes.  You have to prepare for him with his speed and getting to the outside and then coming with me with the power and the downhill stuff.  I think it just gives defenses a lot to worry about


(on if he thinks he is a symbol for guards receiving higher pay than they have and if he thinks the NFL is changing in that regard)

It’s changing every year. I just kind of put myself in the position I did by playing football and doing the best I could. I really don’t have a direct answer, but you know, just kind of how the market plays out. All I can do is do what I can do on the field and let all that stuff work itself out.

(on his thoughts of going against J.J. Watt two times a year)

He’s a good player. I give him credit on that. Like you said, I’ve only gotten to play against him once, so getting the opportunity to play against him a couple times a year; I think I can prepare myself well enough to do well against him. He’s not Superman, so I can play well against him.

(on if he looked at the Titans’ offensive line and what he could add to it during his free agency preparations)

I was talking to Coach Munchak about a leadership role. I’m not a real vocal guy. I’m not going to yell and do all kinds of stuff like that. I see myself more as leading by example, helping guys out, pulling guys over and giving them my two cents on what I think they can do to do better, just kind of helping my teammates and letting us grow as an offensive line and making us all better.

(on if he knows Michael Roos)

I don’t, no.  One of my old teammates from college (Kyle DeVan) played here last year, so I’ve gotten some good insight from him on the group of offensive linemen.  I got some good feedback from him.


(on what he likes about Levitre)

For any player, the first word you want to hear is consistency.  When you turn the film on, for all these guys here, that’s what excites us.  You don’t want to see the one-hit wonder, where they have one good year or a couple good games and then it kind of goes away or you disappear.   You want to see consistency.  For him, he’s an offensive lineman, watching him week in and week out, when we start watching the tape … When you’re not watching these guys for a long period of time, and you see him throughout the year, I know he’s a good player.  But you start studying different players, which we did with these four guys; you start really appreciating the talent.  I think Bruce (Matthews) watched every game they played this year.  He made a cut-up of that, and I watched a bunch.  You see the consistency, play in and play out, great hands, getting inside, hard to beat him, the effort, the finish.  All the things you’re looking for in a player, we saw in him.    He’s still very young.  This will only be his fifth year, early 20s, been relatively healthy, all pluses.  Everything you looked at you were excited about.  We’re thinking about playing him at left guard.  That’s where he’s played predominantly, is at left guard.  Everything just seemed to work.  He was available, and obviously we’re so excited about the opportunity to get him here.

(on if Levitre’s pass blocking is especially effective as opposed to run blocking)

I think both are.  I think he does a great job in the run game.  You watch him in a lot of the games they played last year, San Francisco, some teams with some good defensive linemen, getting his hands in and finishing.  It’s all about getting hands inside and leverage on the offensive line, and he did a great job of that throughout the year with guys bigger than him, heavier, 300-pound guys.  Like I talked about at the beginning about developing an identity about being a physical football team, he’s a physical football player.  That’s what we’re looking for, and someone that does it week in and week out, a guy that has played left tackle, a guy that’s moved to center when guys got injured.  He’s got that kind of versatility that most people don’t have.  Hopefully we won’t have to do much of that and we can leave him at left guard the whole time, but I think those are the things you look at when you’re watching players.  To see him do it for four years, I don’t think he missed a game in four years, it’s all those things, a great start to a career.  I feel, as an offensive lineman myself, (as a coach) or as a player, your best years are coming your fifth year, your sixth year, your seventh year, your eighth year, and some guys do it longer obviously.  But I think his best years are ahead of him, as we do with the rest of the guys we were able to sign.  That’s why we’re excited to get the guys we got. 


(on his role with the Titans)

Basically, from what I know in talking to the coaches, I’m going to have a similar role that I’ll be able to manage.  I think they want to try to put me down in different spots and get me an opportunity to make plays.  I think that’s why they (brought) me here, to make plays, so that’s what I’m going to do.

(on what he knows about the Titans and how good he thinks they are)

I think they’re a very good team—young, but a very good team, an up-and-coming team.  To bring in somebody like me who’s been through it—I’ve been through the downs and I’ve been through the ups—I can bring that leadership and what I know to try and bring a positive vibe here, try to bring what I do best to the Titans.

(on if he got the sense the Titans were “first in line” to sign him)

I did, I did.  I felt that they wanted to give me an opportunity to show what I can do in this league, and I like that.  They’re giving me an opportunity to be a playmaker, and I’m going to take advantage of it.


(on whether these players can help strengthen the locker room)

That’s part of the equation.  Like I said earlier, that’s something you’re always looking for.  You want to bring good guys in.  I think as an ex-player and as a coach, I’ve seen that happen, where that can be very successful.  But the talent has to be there first, and these guys are here to help us win football games.  But the fact is we feel that, yes, we’ve got both from these guys.  They’re guys that have been around winning teams, know how to win.  They can bring that attitude to this team.  I’ve seen that work here, like you mentioned.  So that’s definitely one of the factors as we’re talking about different guys, this guy versus that guy, the advantages and disadvantages.  Those are things that mean a lot to us when we’re making decisions because you want to bring in good guys.  When these seats are full of players, that they are excited about the guys next to them, knowing that we’re bringing in players that can help us win football games.  Not only that, that they’re good guys for the locker room and city and all that.  We feel we accomplished that with these four players.


(on his strengths as a player and what he wants to improve upon)

Right now my strength is blocking.  I think that’s what I improved in so much over the years.  I have to improve on making more plays.  Last year, I had a few drops, and that’s something that I’ve got to improve in, get better at as of today.  So that’s what I’m going to improve in, bringing this play with me to this team, just making plays and being able to do that through the whole season and every game.

(on if focus on blocking contributed to dropped passes)

That did, you know, because when I came in the league, if you look at previous years, I really didn’t have no drops, but they wanted me to become a better blocker.  If I wanted to be on the field more, I had to become a better blocker.  So I think I focused on doing that and really didn’t get a lot of passes thrown my way.  You know, I ain’t going to blame that on the drops I had.  They were just a lack of concentration.  So I have to make sure I get extra jugs after practice and before practice and get with the quarterbacks to get that focus back. 


(on setting the free-agent market instead of waiting for the market to develop)

Coming off that 6-10 year, we needed to be aggressive.  Mr. Adams gave his blessing and allowed us to be aggressive.  But it was actually fun to set a plan and then just go do it.  We talked a lot.  We had a lot of meetings with Lake (Dawson) and all his scouts and all our coaches just setting this plan together.  And like I said, these were the guys we targeted.  From that standpoint, to be able to go out, set your plan, go be aggressive, and then get the guys that you targeted, that feels really good.  We’re excited about that moving forward.

(on if the three-day negotiating window made a difference)

I don’t know.  We were as aggressive as we could be during that time, and you never know what other teams are doing.  If it helped us, that’s great.

(on the team’s status against the salary cap)

We’re in pretty good shape.  We have room and really not feeling really very pressed right now.  We obviously don’t have as much room as we did.

(on the range the team is under the salary cap)

Yeah, we’re probably $5-7 (million) right now.

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