Titans DC Dick LeBeau Pushing Defense to Keep Improving

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't losing his cool after the first two weeks of the preseason, and he sure as heck isn't losing his sense of humor.

Asked on Wednesday if there's a common thread to the start of the first two games, LeBeau replied:

"Yeah, they scored,'' LeBeau said with a grin, before turning a bit more serious. "That's something we want to make very uncommon."

The Titans gave up a nine-play, 63-yard drive to the Chargers at the start of preseason game No.1.

This past Saturday against the Panthers, the first-team defense allowed Carolina to go 93 yards on just five plays, the final one a 61-yard touchdown pass from Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to receiver Ted Ginn.

"The positive of it is it gave us an opportunity to talk about what we have to get done when a play does hit on us,'' LeBeau said. "In both instances, even though we gave up a touchdown on the opening drive, we stabilized the game. In the first game we only gave up 10 points and in the second one I think we had only given up 10 until real late in the first half and (they) kicked a field goal to get to 13. So that part of it was good.

"But I think that is enough of the on-the-job training for that type of experience we need. We can't allow those big plays to get in there. …  Am I concerned? I don't want it to happen, but sometimes it does happen and we certainly don't want it to happen this week."

LeBeau, heading into his second season with the Titans and his 58th year in the NFL as a player or coach, said he looked at the Minnesota Vikings – the team's regular season opponent on September 11 – quite a bit during the offseason. Things will get serious in the preparation for Minnesota in the near future.

But the focus right now is on the Oakland Raiders, the opponent in the third preseason game on Saturday night.

LeBeau said the work ethic of the defense has been "outstanding," which makes him happy.

But he knows there's work to do.

"Am I satisfied?,'' LeBeau said. "I am satisfied with the way we are working. But I want us to continue to get better every day and every game. If we go about 13-3, I'll be damn satisfied."

In the long run, the adversity of the preseason should help in the regular season, LeBeau said.

Last year, the Titans improved significantly in LeBeau's first season with the team, including the overall defense jumping from 27th to 12th. The Titans went from 31st to 18th in rushing defense last year, and from 15th to 12 in pass defense.

"All these negative things (we've experienced in the preseason), they give us a chance to really dress rehearse, because … negative things happen in the National Football League, and to everybody,'' LeBeau said. "One play doesn't make a season, and one game doesn't make a season.

"It's the resolve in the group, the team fight that you need, and sometimes you have to develop that. And sometimes, a little bit of adversity is not a bad thing."

A look back at Dick LeBeau's first three years with the Titans. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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