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It's Bengals Week: Hot Topics From Titans HC Mike Vrabel's Monday Video Presser


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

The Titans will play the Bengals on Saturday at 3:30 CT at Nissan Stadium in the Divisional Playoff Round.

Here's a look at the hot topics as the team heads into a week of preparations as the AFC's No.1 seed:

-Vrabel said the Titans came back "energized" on Sunday after a few days off at the end of last week. Vrabel said the rest will help only if the team is able to take advantage of it with their conditioning, and health. Vrabel said the coaches have been preparing, and he said the players will be back on the practice field on Tuesday. "It's critical that we get back out there and have a great week of practice, and a great week of preparation," Vrabel said. "And be ready for whatever situation comes up on Saturday."

-Vrabel said the Bengals have an excellent football team, and "they're really explosive." He acknowledged the Titans didn't have many answers for the Bengals in a 31-20 regular season loss at Cincinnati last year. Vrabel said quarterback Joe Burrow was able to extend plays in that game, when the Bengals made a lot of plays downfield at the receiver position. "We have to be better in all phases," Vrabel said. "That was a long time ago, but obviously we're very aware of the type of football team that this is, and how good they are."

-Vrabel said the Titans will need to be able to run the football on Saturday "to be who we are, and to be at our best." Vrabel said it's an important week for running back Derrick Henry, who remains on the Designated for Return from Injured Reserve list. The Titans will need to activate Henry, who has been practicing the last few weeks, at some point this week. "It will be a big week of practice for us as we continue to get Derrick back out there, and get him acclimated to running the football, and seeing blocking schemes, and seeing where guys are, and where the cuts are," Vrabel said.

-Vrabel said Burrow has proven to not only have a great connection with receiver Ja'Marr Chase, but he said Bengals receivers Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are also very talented. "It's the first pick of the draft, and the fourth pick of the draft," Vrabel said of Burrow, and Chase. "Obviously a lot of talent, and the trust and the connection is there. … But I think he has that with Higgins and Boyd. They don't have any issues throwing the football." Vrabel praised Burrow's arm strength, as well as his ability to keep plays alive with his legs.

-Vrabel noted the Bengals haven't had a turnover on offense in five straight games. He said they've done a good job stopping the run, and they've gotten turnovers themselves. He said they have talented skill players, good rushers. "There's a lot of things they're doing really well," he said.

-Vrabel offered a lot of praise for Bengals running back Joe Mixon, who finished the regular season with 1,205 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. "He's a huge challenge," Vrabel said. "He's obviously talented. He's third in the league in carries, so there's a lot of durability there. He's third in the league in yards. I've always had a lot of respect for him, and his ability to stretch and cut. He has great vision. … He's had a great year and he's a very good runner."

-Vrabel talked about the importance of every play in the playoffs, and what's at stake with every decision. "Every yard and every play is critical, every decision that you make," Vrabel said. "And we'll use these (playoff) games that have been happening around the league as examples, like we always do. Just how critical each and every play is, and how each and every conversion is critical, every kick, every punt that we cover, the field position, taking care of the football, looking for ways to turn it over. All those things we talk about during the regular season just becomes so much more pronounced, and the ability to sway games with those factors. … Every tackle, every missed tackle, every pile that we push, all those things are going to matter."

-Vrabel said he expects the atmosphere at Nissan Stadium to be electric on Saturday. "It should be amazing," he said. "It should be an amazing atmosphere. It is playoff football in January. We've had amazing support the entire season. We got support in Houston – it was really cool to see those fans that traveled down there, and (we're) thankful that we could reward them with a win. And hopefully they're ready to get back in our stadium and have an atmosphere that helps us win on Saturday."

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