Six Hot Topics from Mike Mularkey's Press Conference


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Mularkey met with reporters on Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team's 27-20 loss to the Houston Texans.

Here's a look at six hot topics:

Coaching change

Mularkey relieved Bobby April of his duties as special teams coordinator for the team on Monday morning and replaced him with special teams assistant Steve Hoffman.

Hoffman is in his 27th NFL season, and his fourth with the Titans.

During today's press conference, Mularkey explained the decision.

"It wasn't about a play, it wasn't really about the game,'' Mularkey said. "The game certainly didn't help matters. But we have struggled here for two years special teams-wise, and that phase is an important phase to me, they all are.

"I just felt like from early on, even in the preseason games, I did not see the progress. … Really, nothing has gotten better from what we needed to improve on from 2014 and 2015. Yesterday certainly didn't help matters.

"I am not going to put all the blame on Bobby April, he is a very good coach and he is a great friend. But we all have to play better in that phase to get it going, and we all have to coach better. I am stressing 'we', including me. We have got to get that unit better."

WR challenge

Mularkey said the play of the team's wide receivers "has been up and down."

"It was better early on, and not very good the last two games,'' Mularkey said. "People look at Marcus (Mariota), and really the last two games our passing game has not been efficient, and we really haven't been efficient outside. We haven't been very precise, and we haven't been very detailed, and that starts with those guys outside. They need to carry over what they are being taught in the classroom, and what they are doing on the practice field needs to carry over in games. It will function better."

Mularkey didn't specifically name any receivers, but when asked about Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews, he said both players have room for improvement.

Mularkey also said receivers need to step up and make more contested catches to help the quarterback.

Kendall, and Delanie

Receiver Kendall Wright and tight end Delanie Walker both returned to action on Sunday, and made it through the game with no issues.

Wright caught two passes for 14 yards while Walker finished the game with two catches for 34 yards.

"Kendall did a couple of things good, but there were some things where it looked like Kendall had not been on the field for nine months,'' Mularkey said. "The depth on his routes were very short, very quick. … It all goes with timing."

Wright played 25 of the game's 66 snaps while Walker played 35 snaps.

"I would anticipate getting them on the field more,'' Mularkey said. "A lot of it is based on the number of third downs, the number of personnel groupings we'll have with those two in it."


Titans nose tackle Al Woods pulled a calf muscle vs the Texans and should be out 3-4 weeks, per Mularkey.

Linebacker Nate Palmer (knee) did some running today and should be ready for Sunday after missing the Houston game. Cornerback Cody Riggs (hamstring) and safety Da'Norris Searcy (ankle) are progressing, Mularkey said.

Stepping up

With Woods sidelined, defensive lineman Angelo Blackson will play more nose tackle, and second-round pick Austin Johnson will also get an opportunity, Mularkey said.

Johnson has been inactive the last three weeks after playing against the Vikings in Week One.

"We are going to need to crank Austin Johnson up, and he's going to need to play at a high level,'' Mularkey said. "I like him. (I'd like) a little more nastiness in his play, a little more violence in his play. And I think he'll be fine.

"We're going to be around him, right there with him."

Facing Miami

Next up for the Titans is a trip to Miami to face the Dolphins.

The Dolphins (1-3) are coming off a 22-7 loss to the Bengals last Thursday.

"They've had some injuries," Mularkey said. "They get the longer week preparation and the biggest key they get is the time to recover. Their offensive line has had some injuries and they should be getting some of those guys back. They should be getting back their full arsenal of players.

"… They need this game and they think this is a chance for them to get out of a hole. And we feel the same way."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans in Week 4 action at NRG Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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