NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey addressed reporters today to discuss the team's 27-10 loss to the Panthers, and to also look ahead to this Thursday's game against the Jaguars.
Here's a look at six big topics from the presser:
Headed to IR**
I mentioned this in another post, but it's too big to omit here as well – Mularkey announced receiver Justin Hunter (ankle) and cornerback Jason McCourty (groin) are both headed for season-ending Injured Reserve.
"Justin is having surgery as we speak and he will go on IR today,'' Mularkey said of Hunter, who was injured in the final minutes of the team's 27-10 loss to the Panthers. "We are looking at some options."
The Titans will have another roster spot to work with by placing McCourty on IR. He needs a second surgery on the groin injury that's limited him to four games this season.
"We have to figure out who is healthy,'' Mularkey said. "J-Mac, we are going to put him on IR with Justin.
"He's a good player, so that's a loss,' Mularkey said of McCourty. "His presence on the field, his presence in the locker room, in the meetings. I'm going to try and keep him involved with all of that because I think it is important that he is around those guys. They have a lot of respect for him, as the coaching staff does. It's a loss for sure."
Defensive lineman Al Woods suffered a high ankle sprain and will miss several weeks, Mularkey said.
Cornerback Perrish Cox (hamstring) has moved ahead of cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson (hamstring) in the recovery process, Mularkey said. But his status for Sunday's game is uncertain.
Defensive lineman Sammie Hill (knee), linebacker Derrick Morgan (shoulder), guard Chance Warmack (ankle), and receiver Kendall Wright (knee) all appeared on the team's initial Injury Report on Monday.
"We have to do some things practice-wise – the tempo has to be almost game speed – so we can figure out who is healthy,'' Mularkey said. "Not only in the secondary, but with Kendall and the passing game. Right now, Blidi is limited, and Perrish should practice more than Blidi."
WRs on the spot
Wright, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, ran today and Mularkey said "we're hopeful" when asked about his status moving forward.
The Titans have veteran Harry Douglas and rookie Dorial Green-Beckham, and Tre McBride is expected to be promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Mularkey said the group needs to persevere.
"With the injuries, obviously with Kendall and Harry missing some time and now losing Justin," Mularkey said. "We made a decision to be heavier at tight end than at receiver, so you limit your numbers and those numbers have to be productive. We were last week – not this week as much as the Saints. But I think it's a good group. They demand production themselves, let alone me or anybody else being on them about it."
Mularkey said McBride could help in the return game as well.
Green-Beckham's failure to finish a route on Sunday resulted in an interception thrown by quarterback Marcus Mariota, Mularkey said. The Titans are on Green-Beckham to be a better pro.
"He is a young player,'' Mularkey said. "I think it is a really good lesson for him, and unfortunately a tough lesson for our team. That is a time throw, a spot throw and if you are running that thing and are coming out of it, it would have dropped right in (DGC's) lap...He has to understand that."
Mularkey said "there is a chance" rookie running back David Cobb will be active for Thursday's game.
Cobb was inactive against the Panthers after being activated earlier in the week from the injured reserve/eligible to return list.
Mularkey said Titans chose to make Cobb inactive against the Panthers because running back Bishop Sankey had a good week of practice, but also because running back Dexter McCluster had been bothered by an ankle injury earlier in the week, and the Titans thought if McCluster aggravated the injury on Sunday, Sankey would be a better replacement.
"Bishop was better suited in case Dexter could not play that role," Mularkey said. "That was the reasoning behind that. Again, we'll see how Dexter is doing. But Bishop also had a good week of practice so it was an easier decision to make."
Mularkey said Sankey has worked hard, and is improving.
"(Sankey) knows that Antonio has stepped up, and that Dexter has had his role here since we've been here," Mularkey said. "He knows he's had limited reps and he's got to take advantage of them.
"But he certainly hasn't gone into a closet. He has worked harder and harder. He's taking it very professionally and I like the way he's handled it."
Back to Jacksonville**
Mularkey served as head coach of the Jaguars in 2012, but he wasn't retained following a 2-14 season.
On Thursday, Mularkey will return as interim coach of the Titans.
Will it have a special meaning for Mularkey?
"I like winning all of them, to be honest with you,'" Mularkey said. "I just want these (players) to win. That's important to me...It has nothing to do with who we are playing."
Mularkey did acknowledge it would have been nice to have had more than one season to get things turned around in Jacksonville.
"It's very hard to create a culture,'' he said. "You are coming in there, and everything is new. It was a situation where a new owner came in, hired a new GM, and they wanted to go in a different direction. But I just wish we would have had more time.
"I know we only won two games, but I felt like – and I think our team felt like – we had a chance to win every time we stepped on the field...We were very competitive. I would have liked to have had some more time with (former GM) Gene (Smith) and build a better roster."
The Titans have a compact schedule this week leading up to Thursday's game.
The Titans scheduled a light practice for Monday night, and the team will hold a full practice on Tuesday later in the day. The Titans will have another light practice on Wednesday before traveling to Jacksonville later in the day.
The Titans scaled back on some practices last week to limit the reps of players in anticipation of the quick turnaround, Mularkey said.
"We have to be smart about how we go about this week,'' Mularkey said, "because it was a physical game (against the Panthers)."