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Hot Topics From Titans HC Mike Vrabel's Video Conference Call on Monday


NASHVILLE – Titans head coach Mike Vrabel held a video conference call with reporters on Monday.

Here's a look at the hot topics as the team begins preparations for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins at Nissan Stadium.

-With two games to go, the Titans are in a win-and-in playoff scenario. And, if the Titans win one of their final two games – or the Colts lose one of their final two games – the Titans win the AFC South. Vrabel said the team's mindset remains the same. "It's pretty much the same scenario we've always tried to focus on around here," Vrabel sad. "Just focus on this week, focus on how we can improve." Vrabel said the team will meet and work on conditioning on Monday while starting their preparations on the Dolphins.

-The Dolphins, who face the Saints on Monday night, have won six games in a row after losing seven in a row. Vrabel said the Dolphins have taken care of the football, while also creating turnovers. "They've caused 12 or 13 turnovers the last six weeks," Vrabel said. As for his thoughts on Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Vrabel said his been "very decisive with the football, by knowing where he wants to go with it."

-Vrabel said outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who had a sack in Thursday's game vs the 49ers, continues to show improvement. But he acknowledged he's still catching up after missing time. "He factored in some plays," Vrabel said of Dupree, "and I think there's a lot of things he's going to have to continue to improve on. Bud has missed a lot of individual time (in practices) and I know that is critical. But he is playing with speed, and he's chasing, and hopefully he can continue to help us and learn and study the opponent each week."

-Vrabel said the improvement by the defense has been a group effort. Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen's unit is ranked 12th in the NFL, including a No.2 ranking vs the run. "I think it's like it always is," Vrabel said. "It's a group effort, it's the coaching that comes together with the common goal that when they leave that room, everyone is on board with the same goal. … It's a testament to the players, like it always is. … Each week we try to do everything we can to give our players a great opportunity to know what to do going into the game. And I like the way the staff is working together, and Shane coordinates all that."

-Vrabel praised quarterback Ryan Tannehill. "I love Ryan," Vrabel said. "I love who he is, his toughness. I think we can all look back to Thursday night (in the 20-17 win over the 49ers) and see when there is a clean pocket he made some really good throws." Vrabel said it starts with the offensive line and others giving him a clean pocket to work out of. "There's some things that Ryan has to improve on, and that we're going to coach him on," Vrabel said. "But his toughness is second to none." Vrabel said Tannehill flinched in the pocket, and he's also helped the team with his running.

-Vrabel said he singled out safety Dane Cruikshank during a team meeting on Monday for a tackle he made against the 49ers. Vrabel gave Cruikshank props for his work against 49ers tight end George Kittle on Thursday, as Kittle had just two catches for 21 yards. Cruikshank had a third-down role against the 49ers that was key. "He has really accepted that challenge," Vrabel said of Cruikshank. "He has done well …. and Dane will get more opportunities."

-The Titans have four offensive linemen on the COVID-19 list – tackle Taylor Lewan, tackle Kendall Lamm, guard Nate Davis and guard Rodger Saffold. Vrabel said there's a chance some of them could be back for the Dolphins. "We're dealing with it like everyone else is, trying to do what is best for the player and making sure their health and safety is monitored and taken care of, and their families health and safety is taken care of," Vrabel said. "I would say that we're hopeful that we'll get some of those guys back." Vrabel said the players on the COVID list continue to get tested, and they're able to be involved in the meetings on zoom. The players who feel OK have been able to work on their conditioning on their own before returning, which would help them upon their return. "Our job is to have eight guys ready for the game," Vrabel said, "just like we did last Thursday."

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