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New Titans OC Todd Downing Looking for Continued Improvement in Preseason Opener Friday Night


NASHVILLE – It's been over six months since Todd Downing was promoted to offensive coordinator with the Titans.

A lot of things have changed during that time, from additions and subtractions in free agency, new players added in the draft, and the arrival of big-time receiver via trade.

The Titans have also practiced in OTAs, a minicamp, and so far, 11 days in training camp.

Now, we're just two days away from seeing our first look at the offense in the preseason opener on Friday night in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Downing, who replaced Arthur Smith, named head coach of the Falcons in January, didn't reveal much on Tuesday when asked about playing time for the team's starters, or what the offense might put on display from a personnel or play-calling standpoint.

But he knows what he's looking for as the offense takes another step in building toward the regular season opener on September 12 against the Cardinals.

"That will all be up to the powers above me on the food chain in terms of who (plays) and who doesn't and playing time," Downing said. "I am just excited, whatever 11 are out there to go play fast, play aggressive, play competitive, be smart and detailed in what they do, and play with great effort. If we see that then we will have an opportunity to step forward as an offense."

Downing, formerly the team's tight ends coach, is in his fourth season with the Titans, and his 22nd year in the NFL.

Downing served as the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2017 after spending two years as quarterbacks coach. During his Raiders tenure, he helped Derek Carr earn three consecutive Pro Bowl berths (2015-17). In 2016, Downing helped the Raiders offense finish sixth in the NFL in total offense (373.3 yards per game) and guided Carr to a career year, finishing with 3,937 yards on 357-of-560 passing (63.8 percent) with 28 touchdowns, six interceptions and a passer rating of 96.7.

Asked on Tuesday how much he's looking forward to calling plays again, Downing discussed the big picture.

"I look forward to any chance of competing, whether it is out here calling plays in the non-scripted period or certainly these preseason games," he said. "It is a great opportunity for me to improve and knock some rust off or to get into some situations you really can't set up in practice, they just come about in game time. I always look forward to opportunities to improve and I know that I can and will and have multiple areas that I will be able to hone that in."

This fall, Downing will guide an offense led by quarterback by veteran Ryan Tannehill, but get ready to see a lot of back-up quarterbacks Logan Woodside and Matt Barkley in the preseason. While running back Derrick Henry also gears up for the regular season, fans will see plenty of the back-up running backs in the preseason, from Darrynton Evans to Jeremy McNichols to Brian Hill to Mekhi Sargent. The same plan goes for the receiver spot, where A.J. Brown and Julio Jones will lead the way in time, but probably not in the preseason.

It's Downing's job to get everyone on offense ready to go.

Prior to joining the Raiders, Downing coached quarterbacks for the Buffalo Bills in 2014 after previously coaching for the Detroit Lions from 2009 to 2013. In Downing's three seasons as quarterbacks coach in Detroit, Matthew Stafford started all 48 games and passed for at least 4,600 yards and 20 touchdowns each year, including a 5,000-yard, 41-touchdown season in 2011, which led to the Lions' first playoff berth since 1999. Under Downing's tutelage, Stafford went on to become the franchise leader in attempts, completions and passing yards, and he ranked second in touchdowns with 109 by the end of 2013.

On Tuesday, in his second media availability of training camp, Downing said he wants to do his part to help the Titans offense – and his players -- take the next step with his work on the practice field, and in meeting rooms.

"I hope that people would say that I am a leader, and that I am consistent," Downing said. "I definitely enjoy helping guys get from where they are at, to a better version of themselves, and hopefully as young men.

"So that is definitely a part of this job that I relish and get excited about."

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