HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on what the bubble guys are going to have to do in the last preseason game to earn a roster spot)
You're talking about a handful of guys probably, and some guys maybe just seeing if they can continue to play as well as they have. Other guys maybe just putting them in more opportunities, special teams, especially, areas where you want to see these guys make some plays where if you're kind of on the fence on a guy it puts you over the hump. There's no doubt, you're not going to come from nowhere to all of a sudden making the team over what happens in the fourth game. It has to be a body of work to some degree of what guys have done since they've been here so you can get a better feel for what you think consistently they can do. Sometimes injuries are going to affect it. You have to make a decision on guys that are actually ready to play that can help you in week one and week two. Some of the time, that's a factor. It is a lot of things that we'll look at in this game, and we'll see. Obviously, a lot of guys—we know exactly where they stand. This game will help us feel better about some decisions I hope. Maybe the players feel better that they had an opportunity to show what they can do. As we know, there's not a spot for every guy to make our team, so you're hoping that maybe being on the field helps them somewhere else if it's not here.
(on if a player could lose his spot this last week)
Well I think if it's that close where you're deciding on one guy or the other. I think the only way you can lose a spot maybe is injury. If something happens in one spot and you have to carry more people, then all of a sudden it may affect someone that right now we're thinking we may keep and all of a sudden you go shorter at a position, and you have to keep someone else—especially those first couple weeks. So there's a lot of that going on. There are just a lot of variables that go into the last game.
(on if cuts are more difficult this year because he's grown more attached to the players)
I think this year, for me, was already harder. Last year, I had just met some of these guys in August, so it was a short relationship. A lot of these guys we let go this past week have been here at least since April, working OTA's and offseason work, been in the building since January. It is a lot harder for myself and really for the coaches—the coaches get to bond and they put a lot of time in with these young guys. I remember as a line coach when you spend so much time and have to let a guy go, it's a lot harder to do the more, obviously, you get invested in their careers and get to know about them as people. It definitely gets harder. Then the last cut, when you start to let go of some veterans that have been here maybe, if that comes up, it just makes it a lot harder to have those conversations with guys that have worked hard for you, have played hard for you. Then you have to make some decisions because it's better for the team.
(on if Friday night's deadline for a 53-man roster forces the coaching staff to review after Thursday's game)
It was nicer in the past when you had a few days. You got the easier ones done—you should never say easier—but the ones you had a better feel for, and you could save the last four or five tough ones until later. Now it all has to be done on one day. We get together in the morning—we still have all day. Again, a big thing there is to help everybody. Sometimes when the game ends, we might not know exactly who got banged up or who might be affected by the game that may affect our roster. Sometimes we might have to wait until morning for some checks on some guys, make sure there are no surprises in the morning. In the past, we've had more time. This will be one where if there's a guy that maybe gets nicked, you have to be more careful in making decisions with your numbers.
(on if there are only four or five guys that are on the fence as of now)
Yeah, I'd say that's safe to say. Almost every year it's five guys that kind of affect each other. It's not necessarily just a number at that position. It's kind of those last five on the roster that can come from any position really. Like we said before, is it the ninth offensive lineman? Is it the tenth defensive lineman? Is it an extra linebacker? Is it an extra running back or receiver? So you start looking at all the 'what if's' and what helps you, who are you going to suit up on a Sunday, who is your 46? You start thinking of a lot of those things. A lot more goes into it than you think.
(on if he's seen enough to make a fair evaluation on Ryan Mouton if he doesn't play)
Yeah, we've seen a lot of everything. He's been at it now since April, so we've seen a lot of what he is able to do. Other guys have gotten opportunities. Coty (Sensabaugh) has gotten in. Now he'll probably play a little more this game, get him the chance to really step up. That's good for him. That's what's happening. We have some guys that are injured, that aren't playing, and all of a sudden guys may get a lot more reps than they thought they would. They have a chance to step up and show us; maybe they can surprise us by showing how far they've advanced in the last week or so.
(on if he's focused on red zone and special situations in practice with Jake Locker)
Well we will. I think that's something you always concentrate on. It's usually the most important part of games, where they are won or lost. The difference between a touchdown and a field goal is huge. Today we actually worked on red zone against our defense and did a two-minute drive. It's something we do all the time anyway, so I don't know if we'll do it anymore. It will always be a focus. That's why that's a period for us, that even during the season we compete against each other rather than card it. It's faster, it's more live, it's more real I should say. That is something that we will continue to do. He's a young quarterback, so we want to get him as many of those opportunities as you can create in practice, so he's more comfortable in the game.
(on how Jake Locker is adjusting to the run-and-shoot elements of the offense)
I think since he's been doing it now for last year and this year, I think in some areas it has gotten real good. I think you have to have a combination of both, so it's not all one thing, so you have some things that are easier to make decisions on where there's no adjustments maybe, and other routes where there are, the stuff he's comfortable with. It just comes down to us on Sundays, doing what we're ready to do. As we progress, then the amount of adjustments progresses. I think that's kind of how you have to be smart, not just because you have a new quarterback, but even your receivers and the tight ends—you want to go at the pace these guys are ready for also. We've got some young players at receiver; we've got some young players at tight end. So we have to think of all those guys as we're putting a game plan together.
(on if he feels comfortable with a younger player filling in at the fifth wide out position)
Well probably because of numbers, we'll probably go in with four like we did most of last year as far as the game, assuming Kenny (Britt) is not available. If he was, then obviously we'd carry probably five in, or we'd look at the number and decide, do we want four or do we want five? Sometimes it depends on their health. This time of year, they're all healthy. A lot of times the games last year, we went to four, because they were healthy. A lot of that depends on that. As far as adding a guy to the roster at the end, one of the younger guys that haven't been on the roster before, that would be something that could change depending on how things go in this game. That's one of those things where right now, you're not leaning that way, but you never know depending on what happens in the game.
(on Michael Preston's performance in camp)
He's done well. He's getting better like you hoped he would. Young guys, you want them to continue to learn the offense and feel more comfortable. It's hard for those guys—during the season, they're running scout team, and not getting a chance to be part of the offense. He's a big target. He's had some practice out here, I think I remember one when Jake (Locker) must have hit him three or four times in the red zone for scores. He definitely has improved his game over the last year.
(on what football game he'd attend this Thursday if he wasn't head coach of the Titans)
That's a tough question. I'd have to see how Vandy is doing. I think college is exciting, and they had a great year last year. South Carolina coming to town, that's an awesome start for them, SEC—great football. I like the energy that is going on here in Nashville with the team. Talking to coach (James Franklin) in the offseason, I know how excited they are, and I'd love to see them pick up where they left off. That'd be a huge win for them.
(on if the Vanderbilt game is his answer)
Yeah, I'd stick with Vandy, see how they're doing.
(on the play of James Kirkendoll, D.J. Woods and Devin Aguilar at wide receiver)
The younger guys on special teams, I think the way they've stood out there. They're great workers out here in practice. Especially now where you're doing some carded periods where you're simulating the defense, these guys have worked hard. They're good workers. I think in special teams, you don't get a lot of receivers that are necessarily interested in special teams other than maybe returners. (Devin) Aguilar has done a good job, (D.J.) Woods has done a good job playing the gunners, being physical and showing up on special teams which has been fun to watch.
(on if it's tough to wait around for a decision on Kenny Britt's situation)
It's frustrating for all of us. It's similar to last year I think, when Chris (Johnson) was holding out. When CJ wasn't here and we were trying to think ahead of what was going to happen in the opener. This time last year he was still unsigned. It's aggravating I guess that you don't know all the pieces, and it changes so much with injuries one week to the next also. I think this will all come together here real soon. As you know, the final roster comes together on Friday and Saturday. That will be a busy weekend just kind of piecing it all back together. By then we'll have a lot of answers to the questions we've been wondering about.