Coach Whisenhunt's Monday Press Conference

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TITANS HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT**

(on injuries from the game)

Coming out of the game from an injury standpoint, I know that we had a couple of guys that were nicked up. Shaun Phillips has a hip. I don't know the extent of how much that's going to affect him. We'll know more as the week progresses. Quentin Groves has got an ankle. We have a couple other guys that are nicked up, but hopefully we'll be able to get some guys back this week and see where we are as we get to Wednesday.

(on Shaun Phillips' injury)

He'll get an MRI today. I haven't gotten to talk to Todd (Toriscelli) about the results of that yet, so we'll know more from that standpoint.

(on Jake Locker's status)

We're going to throw tomorrow, and then we'll see where his hand is on Wednesday. That's the plan right now.

(on Jake Locker's progress since last week)

When we talked about it at the end of the week, we said he threw a lot on Thursday, and then he had some soreness in there Friday. That was evident by some of the throws that he was making, so that was what the concern was. We were hoping to see how it settled through the weekend and see where he was on Saturday and even Sunday, but that was the progression that went through last week. After not playing in the game, it should be better, and we'll see how it is tomorrow after he throws.

(on Jake Locker being able to provide the spark that the team needs)

I agree with you on that part. It would be good to have some more consistency offensively than what we've had. At times we've been able to move the ball with Jake (Locker) in there.

(on the decision on whether Jake Locker would play against the Redskins)

I don't think we changed the message during the whole week about how I felt about that. I said he was going to have to throw, and we'll see how it was from a standpoint of soreness. Once again, to me it came down to being able to grip the ball and not having an opportunity for a potential turnover just from that standpoint.

(on Jake Locker remaining the starting quarterback)

Nothing's changed from the quarterback perspective.

(on Jake Locker getting back in the lineup)

We need to see more from a lot of guys, to be quite honest with you. From Jake (Locker's) perspective, it doesn't really make a difference what he's doing with it if he's not healthy with the thumb from that standpoint. Once again, at that position, touching the ball every time, whether it's taking a snap or handing it off, there are a lot of things that aren't necessarily related to throwing the football that involve your thumb, and that's what the concern is, but, like I said last week, he's made progress with that.

(on Jake Locker's injury history impacting his position as the starting quarterback)

I don't know that that necessarily has anything to do with what happened here. I said this before, he banged his hand off of a helmet. That happens at times, and that's what he's facing. It's an unfortunate thing.

(on Jake Locker missing playing time due to his injury)

We've had a lot of guys miss time this year because of injuries. If you look at, offensively, right now we're starting Bishop Sankey, we're starting Taylor Lewan. Those aren't guys that were starting earlier in the season, so it happens. I understand your point, he is the quarterback, that is an important position, and Jake (Locker) wants to get back as quickly as he can. It doesn't affect my judgment because I'm basing it off of what I'm seeing from a week-to-week basis. That's all that I can do at this point.

(on needing to see Jake Locker play more)

I think we've got to see not just the quarterback position. There are a lot things that we're still looking to see and see improvement on. That's the way you have to look at it with the team.

(on the possibility of Zach Mettenberger playing more)

That seems to be a question you guys are saying more than I am. I'm focused on trying to prepare our team each week and play better. We've had three games here that have come down to the end that we could have won, and we've only won one of them. We've had opportunities on both sides of the ball in each game at the end of the game to win the game, and we haven't accomplished that except once. There are a lot of things that we need to get better on. I will say this, to me that's encouraging, too, because we're going to continue to work. We had a fourth-and-one against Cleveland, and we didn't get it. We had a fourth-and-one in this game at the end of the game, and we did get it. The sense of urgency was there. We did have success in that situation. To me, that's kind of the way I look at our whole team. If we can do better in these situations, we're going to be a good team. We're getting there, not as quickly as any of us would like, but we're going to get there.

(on third down improvement against the Redskins)

You've got to mix it up. I felt good about that play. We'd run that exact same play before and executed it very well. That was, I felt like, a good matchup.

(on upcoming games against teams with better records)

I think if you turn the TV on or watch any game on Sunday, the record thing kind of goes out the window. There are good football players in this league. Every Sunday it's hard to win, that's why there are no 16-0 teams. What we have to do every week is continue to work to get better. It doesn't matter to me who we're playing. To me, if we make the plays and cut down on the mistakes that we're making, we can win against anybody, as proved by what we did in Kansas City this year.

(on penalties continuing to occur in games)

It hasn't been the same thing every week. The penalties are too much, yes. I guess we're going to find out if the guys get it or if they don't. If they don't get it, then obviously, as far as the future goes and where they fit it, that's going to be something that's an important part of it. There are a lot of different things that have gone on, and that's part of getting over that hump as a football team. We've got to play more confidently at the end of games. We play for 59 minutes defensively and do a great job and then we allow them to go down the field in the last minute. Those are the kind of things where we've got to find a way to get over that hump, and we're doing that. We're working at it. We've gotten better in a lot of areas. If you look at us defensively, we're a much better football team. The game we played yesterday was a very good defensive football game with the exception of two big plays, a 70-yard play and a 50-yard play. If you take those two plays out, then we have an outstanding defensive performance that day, and we'd probably win the game. From that standpoint, you can't tell me that that's not progress. Offensively, we had five series out of nine where we had 10-yard penalties.

(on the defense giving up big plays)

You can't have those plays, but you also can't say that that's going to happen every time. You continue to work on those things, and you make a play in those situations, and you build off of that.

(on improvements with the offensive line)

Like I said, we had five 10-yard penalties in nine series. That's hard to overcome. It's hard to overcome one of those. I think we only overcame one of them. There are aspects of the game which we are doing better offensively. If we can eliminate the penalties, if we can cut those things out, and listen, we can turn these penalties in, we can get an apology back from the league saying it was incorrect, it doesn't matter. That doesn't do us any good. The important thing is we've got to cut them out, and we've got to understand that we've got to be better from a technique standpoint in how we're doing things, and we've got to be able to make some plays to eliminate opportunities where those penalties are going to arise.

(on offensive line penalties and Charlie Whitehurst holding onto the ball for too long)

I don't necessarily think Charlie (Whitehurst) was holding the ball too long on occasion. I didn't have a clock on Charlie. I know in the progressions and how we did it that sometimes you do have to hold the ball. Sometimes you have to step up in the pocket. I wouldn't necessarily say that was a reason for the penalties.

(on Delanie Walker having fewer receptions against the Redskins)

It's just like Kendall (Wright) last week. He had, I think, one catch. Yesterday he had six catches. It's going to go up and down on a weekly basis. Are teams aware of Delanie (Walker)? Yeah, sure they are. Delanie's done a good job for us.

(on making roster moves)

Some of them are young guys that you've got to continue to work with, and you've got to understand that. At this point in time with where we are as an injury situation with our team, last week we had six guys of the seven that were down that were injured and couldn't play, so it's not like you have a whole lot of options to replace guys. I think that you understand with the younger guys you've got to continue to work with them on what's important, and with some of the veterans, which those penalties are happening, like I said, they're going to figure it out. Either they're going to get it or it's going to affect them in the future, not necessarily just with us but with however they go about their business in this league. In situations where you feel like it's something that you can make a change or take them out of the game, that's what you can do. Like I said, that's not something that's really easy to do at this particular point.

(on preventing Michael Griffin from making mistakes)

I think with Michael (Griffin), he's driven enough to understand what he did and to know he's got to correct those things. He's driven to do that. I think yesterday he had a play that wasn't a great play, but he played better after that than he did last week. He responded better to that. Part of this game, in order to be successful, you're going to get beaten, you're going to make mistakes. You have to respond from those. I don't necessarily think that Michael responded as well last week against Jacksonville, whereas I saw improvement this week. I'm not trying to excuse the fact that he's got to make plays, but Michael has played pretty good football for us at times this year. He's got to understand we can't allow those plays to get out on us.

(on Michael Griffin's missed play against the Redskins)

I would think that if he had to do it all over again he probably would play it differently. I haven't spoken to him specifically about that play. The guy on the other side of the ball's pretty good, too.

(on missing Bernard Pollard impacting Michael Griffin's performance)

I couldn't really say that. I think he works hard during the week in practice, tries to do things the right way. I couldn't say that that was the reason.

(on Dexter McCluster's muffed punt return)

I think I said last night, we knew that that was a potential, a shorter punt. With the conditions yesterday, it was even more so, punting into that wind. Dexter (McCluster) was aware of it. That could factor into it a little bit. I know Dexter was very conscious of trying to save that 10 yards or whatever it would have been by fielding it. You've got to be able to sacrifice that for not making a play where you turn the football over.

(on Justin Hunter not being a target on offense)

I think that it's just the way it went, the way the progressions went. We moved Justin (Hunter) around a little bit yesterday trying to get him some opportunities like we did on the play early in the game. With the way that the progressions were going, we had some open guys, and we just didn't connect yesterday.

(on Justin Hunter's body language and teams underestimating his ability)

When he catches the ball and falls to the ground, he doesn't have great body language, either. He looks like he's all over the place. When he catches the ball and he runs, he's pretty darn fast. I hope they do underestimate it, if they think that's the case.

(on the challenge of downfield passing in the game)

We missed some opportunities. We had some things open down the field yesterday, and one of things if there's a positive, we had a lot of things that were there that we could have taken advantage of. The negative is we didn't do that. Some of that was influenced by the penalties. When you're first-and-20, when you're second-and-25, when you're in those kind of situations and they're dropping eight guys, that's going to affect your ability to get the ball down the field a little bit. We had a couple of play-action opportunities, and they grabbed us on those. We got penalties on them. That kind of offsets that, as well.

(on players being off on coverage)

I think in a couple of those situations, and that's part of what I was talking about earlier, we didn't play off, and I think a little bit in that situation that's where you've got to push through it. You've got to be confident in your technique, and you've got to play it the way you did for the other 59 minutes before that. That's something that we have to learn from. I went back and looked at them playing us, and they were off, too, especially in some of the formations that we had. We just didn't take advantage of it like they did.

(on trying to find ways to win)

It comes. It'll happen on a Sunday. It starts out here on the practice field, but our guys have been working hard and practicing well. That's really why I stand here and say we're going to get it. We're going to be a good football team at some point, but it's going to take us doing it on the field. Let's go back to Cleveland. If we make that fourth down, we run the clock out, that's the kind of thing that gives you the confidence going in. If yesterday on one of the plays where Jason McCourty is right around the ball when it's down the field, if we pick that off instead of their guy catching it, which we're in a position to do, that's the kind of play that gets you over the hump. You see that happen on Sundays, and that's what we've got to continue to work on.

(on using timeouts and managing the clock efficiently)

It depends. Obviously, we didn't manage the clock or use the timeouts very well in the first half. We were not doing a very good job of getting out of the huddle and getting lined up. We lost one on a challenge and two went out before the first quarter, and there was a third down where Kendall (Wright) actually got the first down and I couldn't challenge it because we didn't have timeouts. Was that good? No, that wasn't good.

(on if his challenge was too hopeful)

First of all, in the looks that I got, I didn't see the hand of (Wesley) Woodyard on the back. If you take that hand off, then it's exactly what happened to Kendall (Wright) against Indianapolis and it was a turnover. In fact, that's what the referee told me when he came over. He said the hand was on him, and even though that didn't cause him to go down, that was the reason that we didn't get the football. Had that not happened, we would have gotten the football. From that standpoint, yeah, I think it was a legitimate challenge.

(on Bishop Sankey going out of bounds at the end of the game)

It was right there at the five minutes, and I wish that Bishop (Sankey) had not gone out of bounds at that particular point. That's something that we talked about. I know in looking at it, where it was, it was close to five minutes. If he was, then that's something that we can't do. We've got to do better in that situation.

(on if he considered letting the Redskins score in an attempt to get the ball back at the end of the game)

They weren't going to score. Once they got down to the five-yard line, seven-yard line, I've tried that before, and the team just kneeled down. I think people are a lot more in tune to that.

(on who watches the replay challenges from the coaching booth)

I tell both sides of the ball we have guys up there, and I talk to them so I can flip over and see. Sometimes you're involved with your side of the ball and what's going on with that.

(on players grading their own performances)

Like I said, defensively I thought there was a lot of positive yesterday. I thought up front we played very well, did a lot of good things. We can't give up those big plays, which I've said, and if we can eliminate those, it's a very good defensive day for us.

(on what he has learned about Zach Mettenberger)

I know he's growing up from the standpoint of his preparation, how he handles himself in the huddle. He's gotten some reps, especially with the starting offense just because of the quarterback situation the last couple of weeks. You can tell a lot by his interaction in the meetings. You can also tell a lot by how he handles the look team, or the scout team huddle, on the practice field. I think one of the things that I like to watch is if he's really trying to stick it to the defense when he's throwing out there against them, which he is. He makes it competitive for them, and for this point where he is, that's an important part of it for him.

(on what he needs to learn about Zach Mettenberger)

Like I said, we're trying to get him better as we go, knowing that with the way it's gone for us at quarterback this year, that's something that could happen at any time.

(on if Zach Mettenberger played too early)

From my little time around Zach (Mettenberger), I don't think there's much you can do to mess with his confidence. I think that the one thing he's got going for him is that he had a tremendous number of plays in preseason, and he had some success with that. At least we have a basis from where to start with from him. As far as putting him out there too early or not putting him out there too early, there are all kinds of different schools of thought on that. I think that he's got to work hard and prepare as best he can, because at some point he'll play. He'll get his chance.

(on Jake Locker's desperation to play)

You guys have been around Jake (Locker) a lot longer than I have, so you probably have a better sense for that than I do. What I see from Jake is guy that feels like he can help the football team and wants to get on the field, and that's a quality you want to see in all of your football players. That's a quality that you wished you had in all 53 of them.

(on what it would mean if Zach Mettenberger plays)

I don't know, because I can't tell you what that situation would be. I think that he's a talented young man that we're certainly glad to have on this football team. When that time comes, you can ask me that question, I guess, and we'll see.

(on Jake Locker agreeing not to play the past few weeks)

I would say, at best, begrudgingly he has. I'm sure you would understand that. He's been professional about it. I know he's been disappointed. We've been very consistent and clear with the whole process, so he's appreciated that.

(on Jake Locker continuing to be the quarterback moving forward)

I think he understands that. We haven't said anything differently.

(on his assessment of the team's talent level now compared to when they played at Indianapolis)

I think I was disappointed at that time and made an assessment. Right now we're playing a lot of young guys that I'm really excited about. I think we've got some good, young players that are growing, and we've got a lot to build around.

(on the talent of veteran players)

We've got guys, like Derrick Morgan's playing good for us right now, if you consider him a not-young guy. Kam Wimbley, there's a great example of being a pro in that game. We had Quentin (Groves) go out, and Kam had to go in and cover a kick, and he made a tackle at the 19-yard line. To me, that's what being a pro's all about. We've got a number of those guys that are doing good jobs for us.

(on outside linebackers getting sacks as a positive example of the team's progress)

I consider it a team sport. I know you guys want to focus on individuals, but I think we're one of five teams in the league that has 16 sacks and eight interceptions. We've got some pretty good stats, defensively, and both Kam (Wimbley) and Derrick (Morgan) are part of that defense. I consider them important parts of our defense, which is what this is about, not an individual player.

(on the level of urgency with the final game before the bye week)

Obviously, this is a division game for us. We're 1-1 in the division, and we get a chance to play Houston, which there is some significance to playing Houston. Playing at home before the bye, yeah, I hope there's a sense of urgency with our team. There should be.

(on having a full week of practice after the bye week)

Maybe we can see what happens this week. Maybe we'll provide a little bit of incentive this week.

(on Taylor Lewan's performance)

I think Taylor (Lewan's) done a pretty good job, which is what we really expected from him coming in here. As far as the run game and pass game has gone, he's done well. Has he missed a block here or has he been not as stout in protection? Yeah, you could find that on anybody, but I'm very pleased with his progress and what he's come in there and done, especially going against two good pass-rushers that the Redskins have.

(on incentives for players to perform better)

I think they're competitive guys by nature. You have to be to be in this league. When you provide something that helps their competitiveness, yeah, I think any additional incentive. You can't do it with anything other than maybe time off now because of the salary cap, so that's part of it.

(on Jackie Battle's versatility)

It's good to see Jackie (Battle) get back. He was struggling a little bit earlier from the stinger that he had gotten. It's good to see him back. I think that one of those things that breaks your tendency, we're a high run tendency when he's in there with at personnel group, and especially the way we ran that play, it was a counter off of what we'd done. It was nice to see it work and him to have success with catching the ball. He's done a good job for us as a short-yardage goal-line back. Jackie's a valuable member as far as special teams, as well. You like having those guys on your roster.

(on Karl Klug expanding his role on the team)

Karl (Klug's) been playing well for us. He actually fielded a kick, got it outside the 30, did a nice job blocking as a fullback for us in a short-yardage package and has played well defensively. He's a guy that you pull for just because of the training camp that he had and how hard he's working.

(on Nate Washington not being a target often during the game)

I don't know. It's just the way the routes have come. It's not because he's not in the progression or not being looked at to make some plays.

(on needing more production from Nate Washington)

If we had more completions than we had yesterday, I'm sure that more will go to him. That's the natural thing to say. I think we had 17 completions yesterday. If we only have seven of those and because we do spread it around, sometimes you are going to be limited in what you get. It's certainly not a conscious thing, it's just the way that game played out.

(on sensing pessimism about how the season's gone)

I understand where that's coming from. I've noticed a sense of pessimism ever since I've gotten here. That's, I think, from previous times. The only thing I can say is, I really believe our guys are working hard. We're getting better. We're going to be a good football team. That's the thing that's important.

(on the team clicking this year as opposed to next year)

That's what I'm counting on. I'm not looking to 2015. I know that there are a number of people that already want to talk about 2015. We're focused on Houston and trying to play the best game we can against them and seeing what happens.

(on pre-existing pessimism)

I could only tell you what my sense has been. I'm not saying that that's necessarily the case.

(on where the pessimism comes from)

I sense it from you guys. That's the way it's been since I've gotten here. That's the tone that I've gotten from the media since I've been here, and that's OK. When we win some games, when we have some success, we can change that. That's what our goal is.

(on the offensive line facing Houston DE J.J. Watt)

We saw (Brian) Orakpo, we saw (Ryan) Kerrigan yesterday. We've seen some good pass-rushers. You're going to see them on a weekly basis in the NFL. J.J. Watt's a good football player. We understand that. We start our preparation really today and tomorrow, so we've got to try to find a way to be able to handle them.

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