Big-spending Titans eager for quick turnaroundBy TERESA M. WALKER , Associated Press
Jul. 23, 2013 12:54 PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Titans owner Bud Adams opened up his checkbook, spending more than $100 million adding free agents and experience. Coach Mike Munchak switched up some coaches and even brought in Gregg Williams after a season-long suspension from the NFL.
Yes, the Tennessee Titans are tired of losing and missing the playoffs.
They open training camp ready to start trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008. Adams signaled his impatience when he fired chief operating officer Mike Reinfeldt after the Titans went 6-10. But he did allow general manager Ruston Webster to sign 17 free agents to revamp a roster that had been Tennessee's youngest since 2006.
"That's why the NFL is the No. 1 sport, because if you make the right decisions, you can turn it around," Munchak said. "And we feel we're going to turn it around."
Five things to watch as the Titans look for only their fourth winning record since last winning a playoff game in January 2004.
1. LOCKER TIME IS NOW: Jake Locker is healthy after surgery to repair his left, non-throwing shoulder, and was on the field throughout the offseason program. The eighth pick in the 2011 draft heads into his third year having taken charge as a leader with the Titans cutting veteran Matt Hasselbeck. Now the Titans need him to stay healthy and show the mobility that prompted them to draft him as their next franchise quarterback. They also bolstered the receiving corps by drafting Justin Hunter in the second round and signing Kevin Walter, giving him help after throwing for 2,176 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season.
2. REINFORCE THAT LINE: To keep Locker healthy and improve the run game, the Titans revamped the interior of their offensive line. They lost four starters to season-ending injuries in 2012, and fixing the line was a top priority. They signed free-agent left guard Andy Levitre and four other veterans. Then they drafted Chance Warmack at No. 10 overall to take over right guard with Brian Schwenke pushing Fernando Velasco at center. Levitre must show he's healed up from offseason knee surgery.
3. GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Titans gave up an NFL-worst 471 points, also the most in franchise history. They allowed 34 or more points in the first five games and at least 30 in six of the first seven. Munchak switched up his linebackers coach and brought in Williams, Tennessee's defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000 when the Titans went a combined 26-6. Williams brings his fiery attitude to go with defensive coordinator Jerry Gray's schemes. The Titans also signed veteran safety Bernard Pollard to add nastiness and tackle Sammie Hill for some much-needed bulk.
4. REMEMBER THE RUN GAME? Munchak sure does, and he has ordered new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to be a run-first offense. That's why they brought in Shonn Greene to back up Chris Johnson even though CJ2K is coming off the third-best rushing season of his career. Greene gives Tennessee its best backfield combo since 2008 when LenDale White provided the pounding to Johnson's breakaway speed. The Titans hope that greatly improves a rushing offense that ranked 21st last season.
5. TICK TICK TICK: With all the money Adams spent and the owner turning 91 in January, a few key Titans are under pressure to win now. Munchak is in his third season as coach and may need a winning record to keep his job. Receiver Kenny Britt, in the final year of his rookie contract, needs to prove that he's not only healthy enough to play an entire season but can be the dominant player that he's shown flashes of in his career. Locker also needs to give the Titans a reason to think about giving him an extension.
Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker
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