NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Linebacker Shaun Phillips knows linebacker Wesley Woodyard from last season with Denver and safety Bernard Pollard from their time that overlapped at Purdue, but he said it's too early to know who the Titans will be on defense in 2014.
"I think our identity comes from how we play," Phillips said during a media session this week. "We don't have an identity yet because we haven't played together. We don't know what's going to work for us. It may be to blitz every single play; it may be to be in coverage every single play. We don't know, so we're establishing our identity, and whether it will be an iron-nose defense or a hybrid defense or pass-rush defense, we'll figure that out as the season goes on."
Tennessee's players are wrapping up the second of a two-week window in which NFL teams with new head coaches were allowed to meet with coordinators and position coaches and go through strength and conditioning drills. They are off next week and will return for a mini-camp April 29-May 1.
The Titans plan to implement elements of 3-4 and 4-3 fronts this season under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Phillips, who spent most of his pro career as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 in San Diego before playing defensive end in Denver's 4-3 last season, said he thinks installation of Horton's system will go smoothly.
"I personally see it coming together," Phillips said. "Ray's defense is pretty simple: if they call your name, you're blitzing, and if they don't, then maybe you're in coverage, so they tell you what to do and it's up to you to learn what you're supposed to do. After that, you just go play football."
Phillips, who has 79.5 career sacks, said he and Kamerion Wimbley are helping other players during meetings. Wimbley played outside linebacker in 3-4s before moving to defensive end when he signed with Tennessee in 2012.
"Guys have been asking me random questions, which is good. They know that I've played in the 3-4 system for a while, and so has Kam," Phillips said. "We get to piggyback off each other, sit next to each other in meetings and throw things back and forth, communicate. That's what it's about right now: we're learning the defense, getting it installed and we'll go from there."
Defensive lineman Ropati Pitoitua also has previous experience in 3-4 defenses. He said the additions of Phillips, Woodyard and defensive lineman Al Woods will "help us out a lot." Pitoitua re-signed after posting career highs of 91 tackles, four sacks and four passes defensed.
"I've played in a system very similar to this, so everything seems the same, but it's the terminology and trying to get all the plays down," Pitoitua said. "Everything is very (similar) though."
Titans offensive tackle Michael Roos has seen Phillips in an opposing uniform in four of the past five seasons and said he's a "great addition." "He's been doing it for a long time and knows how to do it in this kind of scheme," Roos said. "He's the kind of guy you need to bring in here to show some of the other guys and be able to talk about the scheme. He knows how to get the job done."