Camp Notebook: Offense Bounces Back


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An ability to retain and master an offense helps a quarterback.

The position can also be aided by an ability to forget, as was the case between Thursday night's practice and Friday's session.  

Second-year pro Jake Locker, who is competing with 14-year NFL veteran Matt Hasselbeck for the starting job, said he was pleased with the way he bounced back Friday from a less-than-stellar outing Thursday night.

"Yeah, I kind of had a tough night last night," Locker said during his media session. "It was a combination of a lot of things. We just didn't have our best day, but I think we bounced back and were able to find some completions and move the ball on offense.

"Any competitor's goal when they go out and don't have their best performance, they want to bounce back and have a good showing," Locker added.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said there are multiple reasons for an offense struggling during training camp. Munchak added that he liked the way the Titans moved past that sub-par performance in less than 24 hours.

"I just think that's how it's going to be," Munchak said. "I think when you're installing different things, every day, every night, the defense is installing different things, a lot of times, we don't prepare for a lot of things. You're seeing on both sides of the ball, because you're not really game planning. So sometimes it's going to look a little off. Sometimes receivers are confused. Sometimes balls are being dropped. Sometimes the quarterbacks are not accurate like you said on both sides. I think, like you said, today was a lot better, for both quarterbacks, overall. These guys bounce back when maybe one night wasn't as good as the next."

Munchak said the way that Locker and Hasselbeck continue to approach the competition is good for the team.

"I think we're lucky," Munchak said. "We've got two guys who are trying to get better every day, who actually like each other, who actually help each other, and root for each other a little bit. I think they're both handling it well. There's going to be ups and downs for both of them, which there have been, this camp, not just for the quarterbacks, for all of it. The hard part is only one can play."

INJURIES SIDELINE CENTERS: Eugene Amano and Kevin Matthews, who have taken most of the reps at center with first- or second-team this offseason, missed practice Friday.

Amano suffered a triceps injury Thursday night, and Matthews had concussion-like symptoms that kept him from practicing Thursday as well.

"(Amano) went ahead and had his MRI this morning," Munchak said. "The doctor was reading it as we came out. As far to what severity his triceps is, it looks like his triceps, on the pass rush, got kind of knocked in, and got soreness on the inner part of his triceps. So, he's sore, but we just don't know to what extent he's hurt."

Munchak said Titans coaches are treating Matthews as if he did have a concussion. He said Matthews was fine when exercising Friday, but added he "probably won't do anything for a couple of days."

The injuries created more snaps for Fernando Velasco, who is in his third season with the Titans, and Kyle DeVan, a fourth-year pro who signed with the Titans this offseason.

Velasco has played center and guard in a reserve role, and Munchak said that experience has value.

"I think the fact that he's been here helps a lot," Munchak said. "He was an undrafted free agent that came in, did the practice squad routine, and worked his way up to the rotation, making the backup inside. He's got confidence and we've got confidence in him. I think he was going to be in the mix, anyway, at the center. He's spent more time at guard because of Leroy Harris, being injured during OTA, so it kind of forced our hand a little bit. So, he got a lot of work at right guard and the plan was in the second week to start getting him in the center mix."

Harris missed some snaps with back spasms Friday, but is expected to be OK.

BRITT PROGRESSING: Wide receiver Kenny Britt, who is recovering from knee surgery, has signed a lot of autographs for fans during practices. Britt has also done physical therapy sessions twice a day and is showing progress, Munchak said.

"We've got him on a pretty aggressive program," Munchak said. "He's been working six out of seven days a week. We gave him a little bit of a day off on Tuesday, but he's been doing two-a-days. While these guys are here, he's running or doing something in the weight room or doing or doing some rehab for his legs. That's going as well as can be expected."

Britt began training camp on the physically unable to perform list and will stay there until "he's over the hump," Munchak said, adding that the receiver's rehab is going in the right direction.

NO MORE RED FOR WRIGHT: Titans rookie receiver Kendall Wright has worn a red no-contact jersey like the quarterbacks the past two days and will be able to shed that restriction Saturday when the team holds a closed practice at LP Field.

It will be Wright's fourth day at camp after a brief contract holdout, and the rules in the collective bargaining agreement apply to players' first three days.

"It's nice to have him back," Locker said of Wright. "I think you guys saw in spring how explosive he is, how many plays he can make. It will be really good for our offense to have another weapon."

PAST FOE RESPECTS BULLUCK: Former Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck (2000-09) announced his retirement as a Titan Friday at Baptist Sports Park.

"Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith recognized Bulluck as the greatest player in franchise history to be drafted as a Titan and retire as a Titan.

Bulluck, who was drafted in the first round by the Titans in 2000, began his career on special teams and as a reserve linebacker. He made the starting lineup in 2002 and made 127 consecutive starts (third most among linebackers) before suffering a knee injury late in 2009.

"As a young kid, you start off and you just want to play ball," Bulluck said. "That's all I ever wanted to do, was play ball. I got that opportunity at the collegiate level, and now here. When I got here, like Coach Munchak said, I didn't get the opportunity at first. But I knew I was going to get that opportunity. When I did, I'm a firm believer in maximizing your opportunity."

Bulluck earned respect from teammates and coaches and even former foes.

Seven-time Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, who signed with the Titans this offseason, said he appreciated Bulluck's approach.

"He's one of the smartest players I've played against," Hutchinson said. "It seems like half the time he knew what we were running. You could tell he was a guy that studied film and your tendencies, but he was always there: a hard-headed linebacker that was going to go in there and scrum around with the offensive linemen and get off blocks, but he was definitely the leader of a defense on the field.

HONORING MURDOCK: The funeral of former Titans receiver O.J. Murdock is scheduled for Saturday in Florida. Murdock passed away Monday from a self-inflicted gunshot in the parking lot of his high school in Tampa.

Tight end Jared Cook, receiver Damian Williams and director of player development Tina Tuggle will attend the funeral along with Titans. Cook roomed with Murdock when they were in college at South Carolina, and Murdock roomed with Williams this offseason when Murdock was in Nashville rehabbing an Achilles injury he suffered at the start of 2011 training camp.

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