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Titans in Search of Backups in Secondary




NASHVILLE, Tenn. --** When a team returns a secondary with three Pro Bowlers (including one All-Pro) and a nine-year veteran, they usually don't have many concerns. Entering this season, however, the Titans' goal was to restock their corps of backups to round out of the NFL's strongest units.

The team's starting secondary that includes safeties Chris Hope and Michael Griffin and cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper will be one of this year's strengths, but the team is looking for some of their younger players to develop.

So far head coach Jeff Fisher likes what he sees.

"We're getting a lot of plays and production out of the young guys," Fisher said. "Tanard Davis is doing well, Cary Williams is making his share of plays. Fortunately, with the extra preseason game we'll get a chance to evaluate them."

The Titans have depth at safety and nickel cornerback, with veteran contributors Vincent Fuller and Donnie Nickey. However, the team lost cornerbacks Chris Carr, Eric King and Reynaldo Hill from last year's squad, leaving holes to be filled in the secondary.

"We have a lot of guys that know how to play football. Tanard Davis, Cary Williams, and DeMarcus Faggins are doing a great job," said Hope, who earned his first Pro Bowl berth last season. "We have a lot of great young corners that have come in and are competing. We are just setting the tone from the top to the bottom and everybody is picking up and playing their part."

Faggins, an eight-year veteran who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the AFC South rival Houston Texans, has amassed 217 tackles, 26 passes defensed and five interceptions since 2002. Davis has one year of experience, having spent time with both the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles. Early on in Titans training camp, he already has three interceptions during live 11 on 11 play. 

"I feel good, I feel confident and I'm just taking advantage of the opportunities they are giving me," Davis said. "I'm just making sure I stay consistent."

Williams was a seventh round pick by the Titans in 2008, but was injured for a large portion of last season and was never able showcase his abilities on the field. Now that some free spots have opened up, Williams has been getting reps on the second team.

"I'm definitely feeling comfortable," Williams said. "I've got a year under my belt just basically observing. Unfortunately an injury last year sat me down on the sidelines so I've been able to just watch and observe the veterans. Everyday I try to just take one day at a time and get better. I'm trying to use those things that the veteran guys use and make my game more complete."

Griffin touted rookie cornerback Ryan Mouton, Tennessee's third-round pick in April's draft, who has played well with the third group, while also returning kickoffs.

"I see a bright future for them. I see a lot of them making plays on the ball, a lot of them having interceptions," Griffin said. "They are making a lot of progress, they are learning fast and they are picking up the speed of the game."

Hope said all of the veterans have no problem lending a hand to the rookies simply trying to find their way.

"We push each other," Hope said. "That's the blessing, to have a group of guys that are all unselfish and who care what we look like on tape. There's no guy in here who you can't talk to or you don't feel comfortable asking a question to, and I think that makes it better."

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