NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans returned to practice Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park after a four-day break for players during their bye week.
Here are the top five notes from head coach Ken Whisenhunt's press conference as the Titans begin preparations for Sunday's game against the Ravens.
- Getting Mettenberger Reps**
The Titans practiced twice last week on Tuesday and Wednesday with a focus on red zone situations and getting Zach Mettenberger more comfortable with the playbook.
"We got a lot of reps in last week," said Whisenhunt. "We had a couple of days where we ran a bunch of plays, 60-plus plays in practice, and it's invaluable. We got a chance to do some situational work, which is what we needed -- to work on third down-- and we worked on some red zone things. A lot of times it was even a case of repeating plays, where you get two looks at it, so you get a chance to really get a feel for the play. That's good."
4. Fixing the Penalty Issue
The Titans are seventh in the NFL with 7.88 penalties per game and third in penalty yards per game at 73.13. In an effort to help cure the issue, referees will be in attendance at practice on Wednesday. This is something the Titans did during training camp and Whisenhunt said it's something that can help them at this point.
"I think bringing the officials out, if nothing else, makes us more aware of what we're doing," he said. "If it helps us focus and get better at that, that's what you have to do."
- Improving on Special Teams**
After struggling mightily on special teams early in the season, the Titans found some success in the return game against the Texans in Week 8. Dexter McCluster recorded his longest punt return since coming to Tennessee, taking the Texans first punt of the game 48 yards to the Houston 21-yard line. Leon Washington returned three kicks for 77 yards and a long of 39 yards.
"There are some things we've been doing better, some things we made some improvement on," Whisenhunt said. "For example, special teams, I think, when you look at earlier in the season where we were on special teams and where we have been the last few weeks, we've made improvements."
2. Turning Accountability Into Playmaking
The Titans have had two heart-breaking defeats in the first half of the season – a 29-28 loss to the Browns in Week 5 and a 19-17 defeat to the Redskins in Week 7 on a last-second field goal.
Everyone on the team has owned up to personal shortcomings, but Whisenhunt said it's time for that accountability to turn into more playmaking.
"It's OK to own up to the mistakes, but at some point in this game it's about making plays," said Whisenhunt. "It's a production business. We've all got to be accountable to that. Some of that's confidence, and that's what's hurt us in a couple of games. We've been in situations where we're one play away from winning a game, and we haven't gotten it done. You can sit here and talk about it all you want, but we've had a lot of competitive situations with our team over the last week. In the games, hopefully that will give us a chance to be successful."
- Writing a Different Script in the Second Half**
Whisenhunt continued to reiterate that he understands "you are what your record says you are" in the NFL, but he's looking forward to more team success in the second half of the season.
"I understand that," he said. "That's normal. We've felt like we're working to get better as a football team. The only way we're going to get anybody to calm down is to win some games. That's what we have to do. We understand that. We know it's not easy, but we feel like we're going to work hard to show progress and try to make our fans proud of us."