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News » Tennessee Titans Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-27

Tennessee Titans Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-27

Tennessee Titans Strategy and Personnel 2008-09-27
The Titans will make their second in-season lineup change this week as third-year man Stephen Tulloch will be elevated past Ryan Fowler as the team's starting middle linebacker.

Last week, Titans coach Jeff Fisher announced that he would stick with Kerry Collins at quarterback even when Vince Young returns from a sprained left knee.

Tulloch, a 2006 fourth-round choice from North Carolina State, has great instincts to the football and is more of an athletic playmaker than Fowler, who is regarded as a savvy technician. What has kept the more athletic Tulloch out of the lineup until now was that he would occasionally freelance too much and not play within the scheme all the time. That, of course, is fine as long as you're making the play on the ball carrier, but when a play occurs in your gap because of a wrong guess, it can result in a big gain for the opposing offense.

Still, the switch to Tulloch, who had a strong training camp and preseason, is likely well-timed because his speed and nose for the football can help the Titans try to contain Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson.

Fowler, who signed as a restricted free agent before the 2007 season, remains a valuable special teams contributor and will still be a part of the extra linebacker package the Titans like to use in certain situations.


--DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, the emotional leader of the defensive line, was given most of Wednesday's practice off, but the Titans said he did not have any injury issues. Vanden Bosch is expected to play at full speed on Sunday.

--MLB Stephen Tulloch moves into the starting lineup this week in place of Ryan Fowler, giving the Titans a faster, more athletic player at the position.

--CB Nick Harper says he will play Sunday against the Vikings after missing Wednesday's practice for a second straight week. The official injury report listed Harper's problem as an ankle, but the cornerback indicated Thursday that a thigh bruise suffered in the fourth quarter against Houston was the reason for the day off Wednesday.

--FB Ahmard Hall "is playing outstanding football," says QB Kerry Collins. Hall, who had been primarily a blocker his first two seasons with the Titans actually has four carries for 10 yards, but more importantly, he has helped open holes as a lead blocker for Chris Johnson and LenDale White. In all, the Titans are averaging 156 yards a game on the ground.

--WR Paul Williams remains a work in progress and likely won't be active anytime soon. The 2007 third-round pick was inactive for all 16 games last year, and has battled dropped passes throughout preseason and on the practice field. He was active for the 2008 season opener, but missed a tackle when he got out of his lane on the opening kickoff and was back to being inactive since that game.

--RB LenDale White did not finish Thursday's practice because of a shoulder injury that did not appear to be serious. White has been splitting time with rookie Chris Johnson through three games and has been a strong short-yardage back with four touchdowns already.

--WR Justin McCareins was back practicing at full speed on Thursday after missing Wednesday's practice with a slight groin injury. McCareins is also expected to play against Minnesota.

GAME PLAN: The Titans and Vikings only see each other every few years, thanks to scheduling, but the two clubs are largely mirror images of each other.

Both are geared around the running game offensively with explosive running backs in Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson who can stress a defense and easily hit a crease for a big gain. Gap control will be extremely important to both defenses, which are geared to stop the run and rush the passer.

Speaking of passers, both teams have shelved their struggling young quarterbacks for the foreseeable future and turned to graybeards like Kerry Collins and Gus Frerotte in an effort to minimize mistakes.

Whoever can get their running back freed up for big gains, and whichever quarterback makes the fewest mistakes or burns an opponent in a loaded-box situation will likely come out on top.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Titans LT Michael Roos held Houston's Mario Williams without a sack last week and will be challenged to do so again this week against Vikings DE Jared Allen. Roos said that playing against Allen last year, when Allen was a Kansas City Chief, can help him as he plans to hold him off on Sunday. The Titans' O-line was exceptional in protecting Kerry Collins, who was not sacked and hit only once against the Texans.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson against Titans front seven. Peterson will provide the biggest challenge yet for a Titans defense that strives each week to shut down the run. It will take a better effort than last week's first half, in which Houston's Steve Slaton rushed for 104 yards. Tennessee tightened in the second half, allowing Slaton just 12 yards. The switch to Stephen Tulloch at MLB should add more speed to aid in pursuing Peterson, but gap control is essential.

INJURY IMPACT: WR Justin Gage was back from a groin injury after missing last week's game against Houston. Gage, still leading the wide receivers with seven catches despite missing a game, made several athletic plays on the practice field, leading to speculation that the injury is completely behind him. WR Justin McCareins missed Wednesday's practice with a groin injury, but insisted that he would be fine and would practice on Thursday.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 27, 2008

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Jake Scott Name: Jake Scott
Position: OG
Age: 27
Experience: 5 years
College: Idaho
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