NFL Team Report - Tennessee Titans - INSIDE SLANT
When the Titans brought in Gregg Williams to help with the defense and to restart his NFL career after a year on the suspended list, many wondered exactly what Williams' role with the club would be.
After all, Titans coach Mike Munchak had elected to retain Jerry Gray as defensive coordinator, despite the club allowing a franchise-record 471 points in 2012. Williams' aggressive style and nature is certainly needed to help return the Titans back to some level of respectability, and he says that is something he will make sure he brings to the table in his role as senior defensive assistant.
"Well, aggressive is how we're going to be and we'll never, ever, ever apologize for competing," Williams said. "We want to be as attacking as we can on defense, and we want to be able to set the tone on who we play against at all times. ... We'll play exactly how we have to play from a toughness standpoint and from an effort standpoint."
Williams, who received an indefinite suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in 2012 for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, was reinstated after one year out of the game. Williams indicated that he felt all along that he would get another chance to coach in the NFL.
And he is glad that opportunity is coming in a familiar place with plenty of familiar faces. Williams' coaching career began with the Houston Oilers, the forerunner of the Titans franchise, and he was Tennessee's defensive coordinator when the franchise made its only Super Bowl appearance after the 1999 season.
"I feel like I am home. It is so much fun to see Mike Munchak and Jerry Gray, and Steve Brown and Bruce Matthews and Shawn Jefferson," Williams said. "Those are five coaches on the staff I had a chance to coach and I am not much older. I guess I was pretty young when I was coaching those guys. ... So that is fun. It has been great for me to see just how good a head coach Mike Munchak is."
The Titans also have Nate Kaczor and Arthur Smith on staff, whom Williams worked with in Jacksonville and Buffalo, respectively.
Of course, one of the big side questions for Williams is exactly how much input he will have as Gray still retains the title of defensive coordinator. Gray was Williams' defensive coordinator when Williams was head coach of the Buffalo Bills for three seasons. And the two worked together again when Williams was the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins.
But can the two co-exist with Gray actually having the superior title now? Williams says it won't matter.
"We are so much on the same page. One of the things we've done for all these years, the years we've been apart, we traded so much information back and forth," Williams said. "It has just been a real good match and a real comfortable match for everybody.
"We're very open and we speak a lot, but we always have, like I said, even when we haven't been together. He's like a brother. I'm not that much older than him anyway. We've always called and remained in contact. We've done a pretty good job trying to divide up the workload."
One of the things that Williams says he can provide the Titans is to be an extra set of eyes and ears on the practice field and in the meeting rooms to allow not only Gray, but Munchak to do more hands-on coaching at their positions of expertise, if needed.
"Jerry Gray is the best secondary coach I've ever been involved with. I think one of the things, and you'll have to ask him, is that with me being around, he's been able to have his eyes and interests there more than having to go over everything else, and the same with Mike Munchak," Williams said. "His comfort-ability is that he hasn't had to be in all the defensive meetings because of his comfort-ability with me, that I'm in the defensive meetings. So now, Mike Munchak gets to do what he loves to do and that's coach the offensive line."
In other words, there won't be a lack of input and responsibilities for Gregg Williams in Tennessee, and the Titans' beleaguered defense should certainly benefit from his presence.
NFL Team Report - Tennessee Titans - NOTES, QUOTES
--The Titans' experiment with Alterraun Verner at safety is one that is gaining some legs, even though it may only be for certain packages or in an emergency situation.
"From what I know, it's not anything that's permanent," Verner said. "I think they feel comfortable that they have another person that's capable of doing it."
Verner said he expects to be back at cornerback at minicamp June 18-20 when Bernard Pollard returns from a planned vacation that kept him out of OTAs last week.
Verner's move to safety has also opened the door for third-year pro Tommie Campbell to get some first-team reps at cornerback.
Campbell saw plenty of offseason action last year in the hopes that he would step up and at least claim a third cornerback job last season. It didn't happen as he slid down the depth chart in preseason.
Now, with Gregg Williams on board to help the defense and his penchant for liking speedy bump-and-run corners that can play man, Campbell is in play once again for a bigger role.
"It's the same situation for me as last year, but I'm just gonna worry about the things that I can control," Campbell said. "I'm gonna worry about my technique in practice and my approach as a cornerback, having my eyes in the right places. I'm gonna focus on all the instruction from the coaches and my accountability."
Campbell is on the spot to show that he can be more than a special teams player. At 6-2 and with the ability to run in the 4.3s, Campbell has the raw skills necessary to be a solid cover corner. His focus on the mental part of the game is what has to improve.
--Running back Chris Johnson said he is not a selfish player, even though he often states his goal to run for 2,000 yards again.
"Coming in I have goal, but when I say what my goal is, everybody thinks I'm a selfish player," he said. "But at the end of the day, I have my personal goals, but I still have my team goals."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a lot more calm. I don't see you guys (the media) as much." - Titans RB Shonn Greene on the difference between playing in Nashville and New York.
NFL Team Report - Tennessee Titans - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A number of players have missed a day or two here and there for the Titans, but none of the injuries at this time of year are serious. Some are players recovering from injuries last season and getting time to rest. Here is the list of those who have missed time in OTAs.
WR Justin Hunter (hamstring), WR Kenny Britt (knee), G Andy Levitre (knee), T David Stewart (leg), G Chris Spencer (calf), T Michael Roos (back).
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--LB Xavier Adibi (not tendered as UFA).
--DE Dave Ball (not tendered as UFA).
--G/C Kyle DeVan (not tendered as RFA).
--DT Leger Douzable (not tendered as UFA).
--G/C Leroy Harris: Not tendered as UFA/Lions; terms unknown.
--G Deuce Lutui (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Gerald McRath (not tendered as UFA).
--CB Ryan Mouton (not tendered as UFA).
--RB Javon Ringer (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Will Witherspoon (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--LB Zaviar Gooden (3/97): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--C Brian Schwenke (4/107): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Lavar Edwards (5/142): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Khalid Wooten (6/202): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Daimion Stafford (7/248): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--K Rob Bironas: Potential UFA; $6.677M/2 yrs.
--DE Keyunta Dawson: Potential UFA; $715,000/1 yr.
--FB Quinn Johnson: UFA; terms unknown.
--RB/KR Darius Reynaud: UFA; $1.05M/1 yr.
--G/C Fernando Velasco: RFA tendered at $2.023M with second-round pick as compensation; $2.023M/1 yr.
--QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: FA Bills; $6.5M/2 yrs.
--LB Moise Fokou: UFA Colts; $2.8M/2 yrs.
--RB Shonn Greene: UFA Jets; $10M/3 yrs, $2.5M guaranteed.
--DT Antonio Johnson: UFA Colts; $850,000/1 yr, $250,000 guaranteed.
--DT Sammie Lee Hill: UFA Lions; $11.4M/3 yrs, $4M guaranteed.
--LB Greg Jones: FA Jaguars; $1.2M/2 yrs.
--G Andy Levitre: UFA Bills; $46.8M/6 yrs, $10.5M SB.
--RB Jalen Parmele: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--DT Ropati Pitoitua: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.
--S Bernard Pollard: FA Ravens; $2M/1 yr.
--C/G Chris Spencer: UFA Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G Kasey Studdard: FA; terms unknown.
--G/C Robert Turner: UFA Rams; $1.5M/1 yr, $250,000 SB/$250,000 RB.
--TE Delanie Walker: UFA 49ers; $17.5M/4 yrs.
--WR Kevin Walter: FA Texans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S George Wilson: FA Bills; $4M/2 yrs.
--C Eugene Amano (released).
--S Jordan Babineaux (released).
--TE Jared Cook: UFA Rams; $35.1M/5 yrs, $5M SB/$19M guaranteed.
--LB Zac Diles: UFA Chiefs; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--RB Darren Evans (released).
--RB Jamie Harper (released).
--QB Matt Hasselbeck (released).
--WR Lavelle Hawkins (released).
--G Steve Hutchinson (retired).
--DT Sen'Derrick Marks: UFA Jaguars; $1.5M/1 yr.
--C/G Kevin Matthews: Not tendered as ERFA/Redskins; terms unknown.
--G Mitch Petrus (released).
--DE Jarius Wynn: UFA Chargers; terms unknown.