TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY MEDIA AVAILABILITY - Dec. 28, 2016
(on practice participation)
Alright, did not practice—Jason McCourty again. We'll make more decision with him tomorrow, give him another day of rest. Sean Spence was held out due to illness, so he's home. No news on Marcus (Mariota). That's later on this afternoon.
(on the status of Karl Klug's surgery)
Same. I think it starts in about a half an hour, 40 minutes. One's after the other, but they start at 3:45, so no news.
(on the challenge of motivating the team to practice well this week)
It's not as difficult as you'd think. With this locker room, they're pretty impressive. I kind of knew that going in. I know people would question that. I didn't knowing them. I mean, we just talked about it, looking at how we started our season, I'd like to finish it strong. It's a resilient group. It's an important game for everybody for a lot of reasons. There's a lot of reasons this game is important, and they know it is and they practiced like that today. We had a very good practice by these guys—great attention to detail.
(on if he is looking at this game as an opportunity to give non-starters more playing time)
No, we're playing to win the football game. That's No. 1 and the only intent. We may give guys opportunities to get some plays in, but if it's going to affect the outcome of the game, that will not happen.
(on if Derrick Henry will get more reps this week)
I'd say we're going status quo. We're going to go with our workhorse. Again, based on how we play personnel wise, we like it. It's been good the last few weeks. We'd like to keep it in that rotation.
(on if it would be meaningful to the team for DeMarco Murray to finish as the AFC's leading rusher)
Yeah, I think that's important. There's a lot of accomplishments that can take place if we play like we're capable of playing. That would be nice, but we're not going to go in trying to force anything to happen.
(on the benefit of Matt Cassel getting all first-team reps in practice leading into the game)
That should help him a lot. He had a very good day today. Matt (Cassel) prepares like he's starting every game. I mean, he's here every morning the same time Marcus (Mariota) is bright and early, very early, and Matt knows how to prepare. He's been in this business long enough. Our guys know that about him.
(on if the offense has to be tweaked with Matt Cassel at quarterback)
Probably the designed runs will be (less), even though he would argue. You can ask him when he comes up. He'll probably argue with you because when he has done them for Marcus (Mariota), it's been kind of a running joke. I think they're pretty safe they won't see that.
(on what is says about Matt Cassel to serve as both a backup and starting quarterback well)
He has been outstanding. I mean, another great signing by Jon (Robinson). He's just been great for our football team, great for Marcus (Mariota), I think. We've got a lot of guys in this locker room that we've added that show how to come to work and do things and how to prepare, and then when they get their opportunities, they have a lot of confidence in them.
(on LeShaun Sims' injury status)
He practiced today. He's got to go through a concussion protocol, which is tests at some point here today. We'll know more tomorrow.
(on if it is still to be determined if Kalan Reed and D'Joun Smith will see significant playing time)
They may get some opportunities, yes.
(on what Matt Cassel has done this season to help Marcus Mariota)
A lot of it is in meetings, film study, what he sees from the sidelines, another set of eyes on the sideline during games. Marcus (Mariota) takes it all in. He's seen a lot. I think he's another coach, basically, in those meeting rooms.
(on if it is more valuable to have an experienced veteran than a young player as the backup quarterback)
We have one that's in there also with Alex (Tanney) who I think is another set of eyes—very smart, very intelligent player. We've got a really good room. Jason Michael is a very intelligent coach. I mean, we've got a really good quarterback room. We're fortunate that we have the experience with Matt (Cassel) in there.
(on if it is difficult for a player to knock the rust off after not playing for 15 weeks)
I don't think so. It helped that, unfortunately, he had to play last week. It's better than going in stone-cold, first game is the last game of the season. I think this is good that he got some experience last week.
(on the emergency quarterback situation)
We have one. We have a third quarterback. We've had one all year. You have to have one when you only have two on your roster, and I'll keep that to who that is. They can find that out on Sunday.
(on if winning this game is an important step in winning within the division)
Again, this has a lot to do with starting up the 2017 season. Again, this is an opponent we have not beaten since I've been here. We've got to learn how to win these division games. That's why we're not in the playoffs because of our division losses. This is an important football game to go into the offseason to really start the 2017 season.
(on if he will take more chances in this game than a typical regular season game)
I think, again, a lot of that is really you've got to just see the flow of the game. As it unfolds, I'll know more of that. It's not something that will be planned as you go in. That's most games. I just have to see how the flow's going with some of those game-management decisions.
(on Antwaun Woods' promotion to the active roster and if he will have a chance to play)
I think he'll get a chance, yeah. I think we'd like to take a look at him on a few plays just to see what he's capable of doing. Al (Woods) played well, especially at the end of that game last week. He'll get a couple opportunities, yeah he will, but he's earned it. He comes out here, works every day, doesn't say a whole lot but has really given our O-line a great look for us in these practice squad periods.
(on if Antwaun Woods is strictly a nose tackle)
Yeah, strictly a nose.
(on if it is tempting to play more young players than usual in this game)
I think it depends on how the game is flowing. We're playing this game just like the Texans are. They're going to start their guys, we're going to start our guys, and that's the way it ought to be. I don't care what game it is. We're going to see how the flow of the game goes on how many reps some of these younger guys get, but we're going to play the game to win the football game.
(on what it means to the coaching staff that Alex Tanney chose to stay on the Titans' practice squad instead of going to Cleveland earlier in the season)
That's nice that a player had an opportunity to be on an active roster and wanted to stay here and be a part of something that we're trying to put together and build here. He's got a chance to be a part of that, and that's why I think he made a good decision. He may have an opportunity this weekend.
Titans players take the field for Wednesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)