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Titans GM Ruston Webster on 'PFT Live'

Posted Mar 19, 2013

Pro Football Talk Live reporter Mike Florio interviewed Titans general manager Ruston Webster on Tuesday at the NFL Owners’ Meetings in Phoenix.

Webster and Florio discussed an array of topics, including the Titans agreeing to terms with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to backup Jake Locker and Monday’s decision to release Matt Hasselbeck. Webster emphasized the deal with Fitzpatrick, 30, is not official until he passes a physical but added, “he’ll do a great job in that role.”

Webster also talked about the Titans moves in free agency, the decision to keep Chris Johnson on the roster and other plans for 2013.

TITANS GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on striking a balance between getting the player you want but not paying more than your salary cap can handle)

I just think you have to be careful to set what your parameters are and stick to them. If you do that, and you’re able to sign a player within those parameters, you’ll be OK.

(on if signing G Andy Levitre was the top priority in free agency)

He was. The inside of our offensive line, we really struggled with that last year, our guards and centers. The plan is to revamp that this season, and he was the first step that way.

(on the decision to keep Chris Johnson and if there was any internal deliberation on whether it was too much money to pay a running back)

Yeah, we covered all our bases and talked about everything and just figured the best decision for us was to keep Chris and move forward. He’s really our most dynamic player, and (we wanted to) just add pieces around him and make him better through the other guys on the team.

(on the move from Matthew Hasselbeck to Ryan Fitzpatrick)

Well, I think initially when Matt came to Tennessee he was going to be the starter and things have changed. Jake Locker is our starter. We tried to work something out with Matt and weren’t able to do that. It was kind of a mutual (agreement) between the both of us that we would let him go. I’ve known Matt a long time. I was in Seattle with Matt, so I’m fairly close to him. We just felt like that was best for both parties, and we’re happy to get Ryan Fitzpatrick. We’ve agreed to terms. It won’t be official until we actually get the physical on him, but he’ll do a great job in that role as a backup to Jake Locker.

(on if Locker is the starter and Fitzpatrick will be the backup unless there is an injury)

Exactly right.

(on the plan to prevent future injuries to Locker)

Well, you know, part of that is going to be on Jake Locker. He has to change the way he plays a little bit. He has to take care of himself. When he throws an interception, which hopefully is not too often, he can’t turn into a free safety. So he has to take care of himself, and we’re going to get better around him. That’s part of the thing with the offensive line, is to improve his protection and hopefully be able to run the ball more consistently than we have. We signed Shonn Greene as a change up to Chris, just to give us a different look. Hopefully all those things will help Jake.

(on wanting Locker to avoid an interception because of his desire to tackle a runner)

That’s right. You don’t want him to turn into Ronnie Lott, which he’ll try to do sometimes.

(on Kenny Britt’s future with the Titans and if he’s expected to return to the level of performance before the ACL injury)

Well, the goal is for him to play well for us this year. He’s a year off the ACL. He’s been rehabbing and working hard, so the hope is that he’ll be back to the old Kenny Britt, and we’ll see where it goes from here. It’s been a tough run for Kenny, just with off-field things, as well as injuries, so hopefully we’ll have one good, smooth year with him.

(on how close the Titans were in talking with Wes Welker)

I don’t think it was ever, other than some preliminary talks, I don’t think it ever got serious.

(on if the Titans are looking at upgrading their pass rush)

One thing we have to do, we really have to improve on every level of our defense and not just our pass rush. I think we got better pass-rush-wise as we kind of tweaked our scheme and the year went on and actually finished pretty high in sacks, so we’ve added Gregg Williams to our staff. I think he’s going to help kind of bring some great knowledge to the defense and we might play a little differently to help us get more pressure, but like I said, I wouldn’t rule it out, but it’s probably not a top priority either.

(on if the league-wide attention on stopping the read option affects players the Titans are looking at in free agency or the draft even though no AFC South foes are expected to run it)

I think what it is doing, maybe not so much that, but our coaches are preparing for it. Even though we don’t necessarily have to deal with it in our division, we play San Francisco and Seattle (in 2013) so I think everybody is taking a long look at it and preparing properly, talking to college coaches, talking to people that have had success defensively and trying to learn as much as they can.

(on if the sense of urgency from Titans Owner K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. is high and what his expectation level is for 2013)

Well, I think he wants to win. I mean he’s 90 years old, and I think that ratchets everything up. But every year, you’re kind of on the block, really, in this league now, so we’ll see what happens. But he wants to win and he’s has allowed us to go out and be aggressive in free agency, which we did, and he’ll want us to do well in the draft and put a good product on the field.

(on how hard it will be for the Titans to win this season in a division that may be underrated)

Well, it’s definitely not easy, but I think we were close in games last year that we could have won. If we could improve in certain areas and not turn the ball over and do things like that and just be better up front, be more consistent all the way around, then we’ll have a chance to win.

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