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Players Clear Out Lockers After Disappointing Season



Rookie linebacker Rennie Curran carries out his personal belongings on the final day for players at Baptist Sports Park.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. --** The Titans on Monday cleared out their lockers at Baptist Sports Park, lamenting plays they didn't make on the field this season, but appreciating the memories they made in the locker room.

Less than 24 hours after their season ended with a 23-20 loss on the final play at Indianapolis, Tennessee's players said they expect some changes to be made this offseason, but who, what and when remain to be seen.

"One thing that's certain is uncertainty so I'm just taking it one day at a time," tight end Bo Scaife said. "If this is my last time here, I enjoyed everything and I've got a lot of great memories. I've developed a whole bunch of lifelong relationships with some of my teammates and a lot of things that I can take from it that make me happy."

Scaife has spent each of his five pro seasons with the Titans, but was inactive Dec. 19 against Houston and Sunday at Indianapolis as the Titans turned to second-year pro Jared Cook, who made a career-high seven catches for 58 yards Sunday one week after a career-high 96 yards on five catches and his first touchdown. Cook registered 24 of his 29 catches for 292 of his 361 yards in the final six games. He said he was thankful for more playing time, but wanted the Titans to have better results this season.

"Everything has been bittersweet," Cook said. "It's the last time that this team will be like this, but you've got to move on. Life goes on."

The Titans started the season 5-2 and led the AFC South, but lost eight of their final nine games in their first losing season since 2005. Tennessee suffered costly home losses to sub-.500 teams Denver and Washington by six and three points, respectively, and lost both matchups with the Colts by a combined five points that could have tilted the AFC South standings.


Second-year linebacker Gerald McRath reflects on the 2010 season with reporters on Monday.
"You look at the little things that happened and say, 'We're one step away on this piece' or 'If the ball bounces the opposite direction on one play or another,' " linebacker Will Witherspoon said. "What happened this past weekend is a clear indicator of that. We were just as good as we think we are, and actually, I think we can still be even better."

Linebacker Stephen Tulloch agreed that the Titans did not reach their full potential this season.

"I think we had a lot going at the beginning of the season. Training camp and our first seven games, we were really moving strong," Tulloch said. "Then all of a sudden, something happened and we never got a chance to bounce back from it. Coach put us in good situations."

Despite disappointing home losses to Pittsburgh (19-11 in a game in which Tennessee made seven turnovers) and Denver (26-20 after leading with less than two minutes left), the Titans rallied for wins at Dallas, at Jacksonville and against Philadelphia.

Starting quarterback Vince Young suffered knee and ankle sprains, and reserve Kerry Collins suffered an injury to his middle finger of his throwing hand in the game at Jacksonville, however. Collins finished off the Jaguars and aggravated an old thumb injury against the Eagles. Young returned to the lineup at San Diego on Oct. 31 but aggravated the ankle injury and was replaced by Collins in the 33-25 loss to the Chargers. Wide receiver Kenny Britt left that game early with a hamstring injury and missed the Titans' next four games (all loses). Britt left Sunday's game at Indianapolis with a groin injury after catching a touchdown to tie the game at 13 with 11:29 left in the third quarter. Britt finished his second season with 42 catches for 775 yards and nine touchdowns.

Tennessee had what appeared to be a well-placed bye at its season's midpoint on Nov. 7 but went winless in November as injuries at quarterback created a lack of continuity on offense. Collins started at Miami Nov. 14 but left with a calf injury. Young started against Washington Nov. 21 but left with a season-ending thumb injury and had a dispute with Titans coach Jeff Fisher after the game. Tennessee turned to rookie Rusty Smith in relief of Young against the Redskins, and in a start at Houston before Collins returned to the lineup Dec. 5, but the offense didn't establish much rhythm until the second half against the Colts on Dec. 9.

The inability of the offense to maintain drives led to the defense playing more snaps than any other team this season. Tennessee's defense struggled to get off the field on third down in wins and losses and played 1,139 snaps. Arizona's defense, which was second with 1,092 snaps, allowed 95 more points than Tennessee's. The Titans were the only team in the NFL to score more points than opponents ( 17) and finish this season with a losing record.

Fisher, who finished his 16th full season as Oilers/Titans coach, said the team will evaluate each player and each position, seeking improvement across the board.

"Obviously, we've got to address our defense," Fisher said. "I think we became a little deficient on defense this year from a personnel standpoint, from an injury standpoint. Obviously, as I've been talking about for weeks, we need stability and continuity at the quarterback position. That started the ball rolling, as it would have the impact that it had on the defense."

Safety Michael Griffin said the Titans' defense failed to perform with synergy too many times this season.

"There were some games that the secondary was playing great and another position wasn't playing so good," Griffin said. "There were games where the secondary wasn't playing great and other positions were playing good. One thing we need to do is all play together like we did at the beginning of the season."

It was the second straight season for the Titans to suffer a six-game losing streak two seasons after finishing the 2008 regular season with an NFL-best 13-3 record.

Running back Chris Johnson, who rushed for 1,364 yards (the fourth highest total in the NFL this season) said the Titans' offense needs to work on executing more consistently. Johnson had eight 100-yard games this season but also had seven games in which he was held to less than 60 rushing yards (all losses) and had just 5 yards on seven carries at Houston.

Johnson said he would "basically take a little time off football and then get back to working out."

"This is the second year (in a row) of not making the playoffs, so we've got a lot of work to do," Johnson said.

Second-year linebacker Gerald McRath said he appreciated learning from veterans like Tulloch and Witherspoon.

"I feel like I'm blessed to be placed in this locker room," McRath said. "I wouldn't trade this bunch of guys for anybody. This is one of the better teams I've been on. The record doesn't always indicate the character and the leadership of a locker room.

"This locker room has a lot of guys that taught me a lot, taught me how to be a professional, how to come in each and every week and work," McRath continued. "A day like today to watch some of the older guys leave out and not be in the postseason, it's a little sad."

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