NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans named five captains who offer a variety of experience levels, coach Mike Munchak said Friday.
Second-year quarterback Jake Locker, who is prepping for his first NFL start, and veteran Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, who joined the Titans as a free agent this offseason, will captain the offense.
Fourth-year cornerback Jason McCourty, who recently signed a contract extension through 2017, and second-year middle linebacker Colin McCarthy will captain the defense. Additionally, fifth-year pro Tim Shaw will serve in his second straight season as captain of the special teams.
"I think it's a great honor," Munchak said. "It shouldn't matter how much money you make or how many years you've been in the league or what you've accomplished. It's more about what you mean to that team, and if we're having struggles or we need someone to turn to, whose that guy that you trust the most on the roster and who would you want to be there for you if need be.
"We don't need a bunch of guys standing up and giving team talks or having private meetings," Munchak continued. "I think it's more about lead by example, lead on game day, say that one liner that needs to be said in the huddle or on the sideline, so I think they should be proud of the fact they were picked by these guys because I think there's a lot of choices on this team, which I knew would make it hard, but they should be excited."
Munchak, who is preparing to begin his second season as Titans head coach on Sunday against the New England Patriots at LP Field, gave players the opportunity to select the captains who are expected to hold their posts all season. Munchak prefers that method over selecting weekly captains, which is what the coaches the Hall of Fame guard played for opted to do.
"It's not a burden by any means," Munchak said. "It's something they should be excited about, and the fact that these guys thought enough of them to choose them, I think, is exciting, especially with the kind of year we think we're going to have."
Locker, the Titans' 2011 first-round draft pick, spent much of his rookie season learning from QB Matt Hasselbeck, who served as captain of the offense in his first season with the Titans. Locker has always believed in leading by example and has often credited Hasselbeck for helping his development in all that is required by a pro quarterback.
Munchak said Hutchinson, who went to seven straight Pro Bowls (2003-09), has set a tone for his position group in the way the 12-year veteran practices and prepares.
McCourty, a sixth-round pick in 2009, has emerged as the Titans' No. 1 cornerback and is expected to lead a young secondary that has just two players with more years of experience than he does.
McCarthy, a fourth-rounder in 2011, emerged as the starter at middle linebacker in his rookie season, demonstrating a solid presence in the defensive huddle. Shaw joined the Titans in 2010 and is a special teams ace and reserve linebacker.
YOUNG DTS ON CALL: Starting defensive tackles Sen'Derrick Marks and Jurrell Casey have been battling injuries this week. Marks missed practice each day and is doubtful for Sunday, Munchak said. Casey participated Friday and is questionable.
The injuries opened up opportunities for rookies Mike Martin, a third-round selection in 2012, and DaJohn Harris, who joined the Titans as an undrafted player and won a roster spot in training camp.
"We're happy with Mike Martin and how well he played and came on strong here in this last preseason game and also with (Harris)," Munchak said. "We think Harris can go in there and give us some reps too, so if that's the case, I think we feel good with that."
CROWD NOISE WELCOME: The Titans tied for fifth this preseason with 13 sacks and are tied for fifth with 270 sacks since 1999 when the team began playing at LP Field. Crowd noise when opponents have had the ball has been a factor in that, and Munchak said he wouldn't mind that happening again Sunday.
The Patriots have been known to go no-huddle and do their communication at the line of scrimmage, so the Titans will welcome any additional hardships the Patriots may encounter with that.
"I think it's something, that hopefully, our defense can take advantage of the crowd noise," Munchak said. "When you have a team that may go no-huddle and be at the line of scrimmage, the more you can add to that to make that uncomfortable for them at the line of scrimmage and maybe get advantage. You want to put our team in a position where the fans can really be in this thing from start to finish and feel like they make a difference in the game. They've done that in the past, and hopefully, we'll get that on Sunday."