NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Titans cornerback Jason McCourty sure hopes interceptions are contagious, especially after ending his personal 18-game drought.
McCourty got his sixth NFL season off to a strong start picking off Alex Smith twice and tipping another ball to safety Michael Griffin for an interception that helped seal a 26-10 win in Kansas City. It's exactly the start McCourty, whose identical twin Devin plays for New England, wanted.
"I wanted to come in this year and try to make a few more plays for this team and try to make some of those game-changing plays and turnovers," McCourty said. "I was able to do that."
McCourty had gone without an interception since picking off two passes Dec. 17, 2012, against the New York Jets. His performance helps a defense replacing Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner, who left as a free agent after leading the defense with five interceptions in 2013.
Griffin said he and McCourty joked last season about how they were shut out all season, though the safety got an interception late in the final game. They laughed on the sideline in Kansas City about not having to wait any longer this season.
"He's a great corner," Griffin said. "I'm glad to have him on our team. He's getting better and better each and every year. I'm looking forward to seeing him continue to play the way he's been playing the rest of the season."
The Titans need McCourty, a sixth-round pick out of Rutgers in 2009, to step up as they switch to a 3-4 under new coordinator Ray Horton. He is part of an experienced secondary with Griffin and safeties Bernard Pollard and George Wilson, and the Titans went young replacing Verner with Blidi Wreh-Wilson in his second season as a third-round draft pick out of Connecticut.
Titans Online looks back at Jason McCourty's impact, both on and off the field, for the Titans. (Photos: AP, Donn Jones, staff)
McCourty's advice to Wreh-Wilson was simply to go out and have fun, let his experienced teammates help him out. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he really respects how McCourty, a defensive captain each of the past two seasons, prepares and works.
"You always want to see guys have success when they do that," Whisenhunt said. "He's a great pro. He's a good leader, and it was exciting to see him have a day like (Sunday). He's a starter, had a pretty good contract for a reason, and he's certainly performing at that level."
Next up is Dallas (0-1) and quarterback Tony Romo on Sunday. Romo was intercepted three times in the Cowboys' opener, and the Titans picked him off three times the last time these teams met in 2010. Tennessee won that game, and Romo said Wednesday in a conference call that the Cowboys will try to avoid those turnovers this time.
"That will help the outcome if you don't have any turnovers," Romo said. "I'm going to work hard to move the ball and get us in the end zone and figure out how to do that without making any mistakes."
McCourty now has eight career interceptions, pulling him a little closer to his brother who has 15 in his career for the Patriots. Jason said he and his brother aren't competing to outdo the other.
"He texted me after the game and was like, 'Call me. I got to hear about these interceptions,'" McCourty said. "We talked about it and talked about this game. As far as the competition between us, it's really more built up outside of us than between us. We just love to root for one another and see each other do well."
NOTES: Whisenhunt said LB Zach Brown had surgery on his torn pectoral muscle Tuesday and will be placed on injured reserve. But the Titans have not made that move yet. WR Justin Hunter (knee), DT Mike Martin (hamstring) and S George Wilson (foot) all were limited Wednesday. QB Charlie Whitehurst (right pinkie) practiced fully.