Nashville, TN – Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak’s opening state at today’s Training Camp Press Conference
I’ll just start by welcoming all of you here to opening day. This is our opening day for camp — 2012 Titans camp. Obviously you won’t get a chance to watch a practice for a couple days, but we’re getting started today. We’re excited.
This is probably my 30th NFL camp as a player and a coach. I’ve probably never said this—I don’t think I have said this publicly or out loud, and hopefully you won’t repeat it—but this is my favorite day of football. This is opening day, really those first 10 days of camp.
When you come to camp today as a player, as a coach, there are so many emotions—the excitement of what’s going to happen, the nervousness of getting started, the expectations. Everyone is so excited about what every team can do, what we think we can do as a team. Really it’s the first 10 days for me because there are no games to be played. You can concentrate on football.
These next 10 days it’s about technique and getting used to your pads again, and getting used to the plays, getting after it a little bit, getting physical, and getting camaraderie with your teammates. The only window you have where you’re not preparing for a game, is right now.
These 10 days when you come into camp with the excitement and all that stuff and the energy is because you’re not concentrating on anything but getting better and coming together as a team. Because then after you get through those 10 days you’re concentrating on the preseason games. There’s always a game—for the next 20 weeks, there’s a game. So the mentality…you’re on to another level.
For me as a player and as a coach, these 10 days are always fun because you can concentrate on the players, the coaches, and not anything else. That’s what I’m looking forward to, and I know they are as they come into the building.
As we start the season, you can see the energy, the bounce in their step like it was last year. I’m real excited about where we finished off in OTAs, what we got accomplished in our first offseason together. Obviously our expectations in this building are very high for what we think we can accomplish. Again, we know we have a heck of a lot of work.
It’s fun to watch that all happen, the next 10 days or so and then we’ll obviously go beyond that. Again, just excited to be here as you can hopefully tell. This time of year is fun for everyone because like I said, you’re 0-0 and expectations are high. Anyway, I wanted to mention that before things got started.
On what happens the next 10 days that won’t happen after that
I think it’s a start. You start everything real basic in the first couple of days. You’re getting back to not doing a lot of lifts in those first couple of days of easing into it to where you’re getting under gap control, going back to basic football those first couple of days. In your installation, kind of starting over.
The point to me is that the emphasis is just on us, it’s not on who we’re playing or what’s about to happen in the future. It’s all about us getting better at different things. You’re going to continue, obviously, football…sports are all about repetition and doing the same things over and over technique-wise. It’s that time where it’s just about that, and it’s the first time you’re doing all these things again.
As you get into games, and you get past 10 days, 11 days, now you’re starting to…the periods change because now you have to concentrate more on that opponent that you’re going to come up with. Now all of a sudden you have to start spending time with other things.
On how different the start of training camp feels for him this season
Now you know what you’re getting into. Now I know where the competition is, now I know what we’re looking at. Now I know our areas, if it’s the quarterbacks, the offensive line, the linebackers, the DBs. We know people now, we just watched OTAs and went through our period. We have a good feel for where we’re at, and what we need to get better at.
Now I can concentrate more on that as I watch practice here. You’re working different practices to bring out different things to see what you like. For me, I know where to stand, I know where to walk around at now. I kind of know how I fit in during practice, and what role I’ll take in practice as you organize them.
Last year was tough because even scheduling practice you weren’t quite sure of how much time you’re going to need with a lot of periods. We had to spend a lot of time last year on real basic stuff because our players and coaches had never even met. A lot of our periods were really a lot of teaching, a lot more than you normally have, and a lot less plays. So we weren’t able to progress the way we obviously already have, and the way we’ll be able to this camp.
We feel we’re light years ahead of where we were last year as far as our feel for the team, what we have, where the competition is, and how far we can push them with new thoughts.
On if he will be forming thoughts about the quarterback competition by watching practices or reviewing film
I think it’s everything. You’re out there watching body language, you’re watching how they react with the receivers, with the running backs, the little coaching points they give each other, how they take coaching. You’re looking at everything. You can’t over-analyze.
It’s not just the quarterback, there’s everything. You’re kind of taking it all in on the field. You can see things on the field obviously you cannot see on film. That’s the type of stuff…the interactions, how they respond to each other, how they respond after maybe a couple of bad plays, how they take the coaching. Those are the things you see on the field—the body language.
Now on the film you can study more of what he did see, why did he throw that ball there, what’s his technique like, would he have ran here, you start looking at those things, maybe why did you make that throw. You were watching this and keeping track so he was 8 for 15 but maybe it was because he had pressure, but you can’t see all that until you actually watch the tape. You watch both, and they both can help you make the decision.
On how Jake Locker will have to perform for him to make the switch at quarterback
I think the first thing is that he’s ready, that we feel he gives us the best chance to make the playoffs this year, to win our division. I think that’s what we’re trying to get a feel for. You can’t say ‘I saw this,’ you can’t see everything on a practice field.
Some stuff as a coach or a person that’s been around this league for a long time, I’m not going to be on my own on decisions. We’re going to have a group of guys who have been through this quite a few times on the staff as far as making decisions. You take everything into account, and obviously, we’re not going to put someone out there who we feel is going to struggle.
If we feel someone is ready at any position, not just the quarterback position, then we feel good making it. You have to feel good about making the decision, and then you go with it. There might be a lot of reasons for that decision, you’re trying to figure out what’s the best way. But the bottom line is winning football games, and we feel the guy that’s going to move the team the best, put more points on the board, and on and on is what you’re looking at.
On where things stand with Kenny Britt
Of course, we talked with Kenny. He is aware that we are very disappointed in his involvement in this recent situation. The league has a policy in place that addresses player conduct. We’ve been in contact with the league. When any issue comes up, obviously the league is in contact with you immediately. So now we’re still gathering facts of exactly what did happen, what all the information is. With the league we’ll decide where we go from there. That’s kind of the position we’re in.
On whether he will wait for the league to make a decision before the Titans implement a punishment
Like I said, we’re disappointed in what happened, but again, it happened during the offseason. It’s something we have to get the whole story—exactly what happened, not just Kenny’s version, or someone else’s version. You guys know, as the story unfolds, there was a lot things out that wasn’t true information.
In this business we are tied with the league, we can’t necessarily do what you want to do all the time. At some point the right thing will be done by us and the league, if it needs to be done. You can count on that. But the point is when it will all happen is when we have all the information, and like I said the communication with the league that we can do that.
On having a timetable for a ruling on Kenny Britt
No, I do not.
On how disappointed he is in Kenny Britt
Again, you all like to use the word disappointed. He’s put himself in a position where something could look worse than it really was. Until we know everything, I’m not going to judge on what someone tweeted or what came out or where we’re at. Like I said, we’re working with this with the league.
Again, we’re disappointed, and at some point, if something needs to be done, we’ll explain what we’re doing and why. But we’re at this point, and we have to continue to, like I said, get the information that’s out there.
On what Kenny Britt’s explanation was
That’s between Kenny and us.
On whether teammates were in Kenny Britt’s car
No. No there were not. That’s my point, is that people run with a lot of things when things happen, everyone wants to get the story, but names were thrown out there of guys who were not with him. For example, if something else happened, and a player comes in and tells me his version, usually his version is a pretty good version. I wouldn’t do anything.
I think you need to hear the whole story, no matter what the situation is, before you act on something. Even though, it may not look the way you want, you don’t want someone in the situation that the player was in. ‘He was in it, now what do we do about it.’ And again, like I said, when the time comes, we’ll know all of the facts and we’ll deal with it.
On the amount of time until Kenny Britt passes his physical
No. We don’t know. He’s on PUP, because he’s not ready to practice right now. Obviously, we’re going to think the best that he’s going to be O.K. and be available when the season starts. We don’t know that by any means. It’s going to depend on now, now that he’s here and we’re all here and we’re all back.
The concentration is all about football, everyday of the week. This gives us a chance to see him seven days a week and let him get treatment. Then we can find out, as we go, how his knees respond to treatment.
On whether there is a worst-case scenario in which Kenny Britt is on PUP until the end of camp and cannot play for six weeks
Well, I think that’s part of the deal. That’s why people put you on PUP. If for some reason there’s another setback of some kind, whatever that may be, that you have yourself in position that we have more options, if you get to that, worst-case scenario. If anytime you get into anything, not just in football, if you’re going to get into something, you should always know what the worst case can happen here. And that would be the worst case, what you just mentioned.
If he’s not healthy, that gives us the option to keep him on something for six more weeks rather than losing him for the year or have to make him part of the active roster. It just gives you more options. How it’ll play out in the next six-seven weeks with his knees? There is nothing showing us to think that he couldn’t be back and ready to play at some level early in the season.
On Kenny Britt’s current condition
Because of the other knee scope that he had while we were all away, he is back to jogging on the tread mill on that level and going from there. I’ve had plenty of knee scopes and I would think that he will be running early next week and starting to cut.
Again, like we find out about any knee surgery, not just him, there’s no telling how he’ll respond. He may pick up and all of a sudden, in two weeks he looks great. It may take two weeks, it’s just a matter of us, day-by-day, seeing where it’s at.
On where he expects Kenny Britt to be with the knee injury
It’s hard to judge. That’s the thing; I wish I had the crystal ball about him. You would think it will be a little harder because he had the scope, but again, it’s hard to predict those kind of things. Like, we could be standing up here a week from now and I could be giving you a report of how much better he’s doing than we thought and all of sudden maybe he is playing sooner than we thought. So, we will see what happens.
On if anything from Kenny Britt early on is a bonus due to injury and potential suspension
I think you do that with any player. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s worse case scenario so you are always going to think that you can’t count on them, when anyone’s hurt with the knee, with the shoulder, with the back. You can’t sit there and plan for that guy to be back. You have to assume you don’t have him and life goes on. That’s how football is.
You better have an answer if that guy is not there. So you plan right now for those scenarios happening. So, we will go into camp the same way, not just because it is Kenny Britt, but any position. If a guy is injured, we just plan.
On status of Kendall Wright being signed
No, other than him not being signed. See, that is something that Ruston Webster will address. We were hoping, obviously as a head coach, to have all our players here when camp starts. He’s not here as of now at 12:10, so we will see. So, obviously you want him here and we will just have to wait to see how it works out.
On whether a specific incident caused Kenny Britt’s most recent knee injury
That is a mystery. I don’t think there is no one thing that did it. I think that’s something that he’s had. Both knees in college have had issues. [There is] nothing major on either knee until he tore his ACL last year but stuff going on there. I think just soreness. It may have been from a player. It may have been having put too much weight on it. But it became something that started swelling up on him and, again it’s the same thing, if we go in there with something we could probably take care of it. [It] really wouldn’t set him back too far. So we made the decision during the break to do that.
On Kenny Britt getting in trouble so much and if enough is enough
If you get to that point, then yes you say that. I think it’s just a matter of you got to find out what you can do and when you can do it. You don’t want the same thing going over and over and over, but again, this is the offseason. This just happened last week. We have to see what our options are.
So, my job is to make it when we have the best information so I can explain to you, and more importantly the team, why we are doing what we are doing. If it’s going to affect a player, I need to be able to stand in front of my team and say this is why we are doing this and I want them to understand it. That it’s not because there’s pressure somewhere to do these things. Whether it be who is starting, whether it be who is acting up, or whatever the topic is, I have to be able to stand in front of these guys and look them in the eye and them know I am not B.S.-ing them and we are doing what’s best for this football team and that’s what we will do when the time comes and we will do it when we are able to do it.
On Munchak’s emphasis on Kenny Britt’s incident happening in the offseason
When it’s during the season, we have rules in place. It’s like anything. You only have your players follow rules during the season. Then, obviously, when it’s offseason, it’s more league-oriented, to some degree, because the players are not expected to be in our building. The whole offseason program is voluntary. I can’t fine someone if they are not coming to a voluntary workout. So, if they don’t show up for practice tomorrow, I can fine them.
So, there are differences but it doesn’t mean that just because it’s the offseason, you aren’t going to have responsibilities. These players know there is a conduct policy every day of the week, every day of the year. They understand that. There’s consequences depending on what the activity ends up being, what you are found guilty of, and what you actually do wrong.
On a potential worst case scenario of Kenny Britt being released
We are not going down that road right now.
On Kenny Britt being out and if Munchak is concerned about the size of current wide receivers
We didn’t have Kenny Britt all last year and those guys we had, had the best year we had here in a long time on receivers. And Kenny, we assume, will be up and going when things count. Having that weapon will be huge and we don’t see it as a problem as far as the size of the wide receivers.
On what he looks for in a leader
Starting for me leader-wise is the example they set, not necessarily because they are vocal. You always hear people say lead by example. Well, how do you lead by example? My thing is it’s being on time, it’s how you handle all the little things as a leader. A guy that will speak up when someone walks in here. You aren’t supposed have a hat on, says hey man take your hat off. Hey, put your phone away if someone is walking down the hall. A guy that doesn’t mind speaking up so everyone is following the rules.
A guy on the field that his personality comes out and how he makes his plays. He does his job. To me, it starts with you better do your job before you tell someone else how to do theirs. So, you are looking for guys that get the job done number one. You like guys that are disciplined. Those are the guys that people listen to. A guy that goes out, makes his play, and does his job, I’m going to listen to what that guy has to say. He may speak a handful of words a game, but that’s going to go volumes with your football team when that guy does speak.
So, I think it’s those things first. I’m looking for guys that do things the right way. Like on the wall there, ‘Be a pro. Do your job.’ and ‘Know what to do and do it.’ I think it’s seeing guys like that within your team that can keep things from happening in the locker room when someone is getting out of hand, someone that will speak up and stop that from happening. Those kind of things. You are just looking for that kind of personality. You like to have some guys that have the fire in them too. It’s nice to have guys that will rally the group when they have to, mixed into that. I think in those ways that’s kind of what you’re looking for.
On Jason McCourty emerging as a leader
Well, you hope he would. I mean that’s kind of what I am seeing. I think this is his first chance. I think as the dynamic of that room has changed with the veterans, Cortland Finnegan not there. Chris Hope not there. Then, all of the sudden, just like I’ve seen happen with the offensive line rooms once Bruce Matthews left, other guys start stepping up because they figure now it is their role. They saw the wait.
Before they were kind of given off to the veteran, which that’s the positive thing. Here’s a guy who has just got better every year, does everything right, great work ethic, and when he speaks up and does stuff in that room, these guys are listening. I think that is going to be a fun dynamic to see how that group responds this year.
On numbers at the receiver position without Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright
I think we still have about 10 or 11 guys on the roster. We are fine with numbers. With the way practice is these days, we only practice once a day, numbers aren’t as big a deal in camp like they used to be when you could put helmets on twice a day and compete.
So, the numbers aren’t as scary as far as guys running seven-on-seven’s twice a day. Guys do it only once a day now. So I think number-wise, it’s hard to give the reps. You have 90 guys, but you only have one practice. So, that’s the plus of it. Even though we may be short a couple of guys, we should be fine.
On the status of the free agents who visited this week
We are not going to sign them right now.
On how Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris are rehabbing
I think we are fine, I’m assuming we are fine. They both finished up the OTAs and minicamp practicing so we assume that is behind them. They should have no excuse to why they couldn’t come out and have a great camp.
On hoping something could get done with Kendall Wright contract today
I do. I just don’t know exactly where that is at. I am not involved in the discussion. I think those are things that do change like that, like all of a sudden someone else signs and it triggers this and all of a sudden we get him signed and he is here tomorrow. We are going to be optimistic and hope that is the case but I really have no idea.
On whether or not all players checked in
We are still on the clock. They are all due here by 1:00. But I think most guys are here.
On Munchak’s reflections on Penn State
It is a tragedy what happen to Penn State. I will never be able to get a feel for what the victims and family of the victims have been going through all these years. I’m sure these last six months with them reliving all these horrible experiences were very hard on them. The guy who committed the crimes and created the pain, he is in jail. All those who didn’t get their jobs done are being punished. So for me it’s time to move on.
To move on, I think everything that needed to be done has been done. I played football at Penn State, I graduated from Penn State, and I am still very proud of the fact that I did that. I think they have a long recovery ahead of them. I still think it’s a great place to go to school and play football. I don’t think that is going to change.
For me, Coach O’Brien and the staff and the football team, I want them to know that I am behind them, I am rooting for them, and I will do anything to help them through what they will have to deal with starting in a couple of weeks when they start camp.
On if he thinks the penalties were fair or unfair
I will stick with the NCAA and what they decided was fair. We can argue about a lot, but nothing is going to change, So if they thought that was right, then so be it.
On if he is sad about statue of Paterno coming down
No, I think that whole stuff, the put it up and take it down, that whole stuff, I think the university did what they think is best. If they thought that was best, then again they are right there. They did what they thought was right, and I am fine with that. I know my memories of being there and nothing is going to change that. That is what I said in the beginning.
We all know it was a horrible situation, but it happened. It should not have been allowed to go on. You wish it was stopped if it could have been. Ultimately when I was there, my experience there, great university, great education, I’m standing here because I was there.
Obviously its very hard and emotional, I have talked to ex-players over the last months. We all feel the same way. We have all been through the same type of program and what we used to brag on, like with me and Tim Shaw that I never knew before but we have the Penn State connection. We can tell stories, and that was kind of neat because that is something we felt that we had that a lot of other schools didn’t have. So it hits you hard when something happens that you feel is impossible to happen on any campus. It has been rough for anybody to deal with.
On if he could fathom the events of the past year at Penn State
Of course not, I tell Penn State stories all the time because I am so proud of where I come from and the influence it had on my life. Anyone here, if your college got into this type of trouble, they would feel the same way. It is something that no one ever thought was possible. I am sure they are putting things in place so nothing like this will happen again.
On any players during offseason that earned starting spots
If you’re watching practice, one guy will go with the first group and next we will rotate them. What we are going to do is have guys mixing throughout practice through periods to find the best combinations in areas where we feel there is an opportunity for a guy to [upseat] the guy ahead of them.
I think maybe for a guy like Tommie Campbell, where you’re happy with your corners, but if Tommie Campbell is coming on and you think can be a top guy as your second or third then use him as an example and mix him in with the first group. Like I always say after practice you move guys around for that reason. You don’t want to wait until the season starts to decide who the better fit is.
It reminds me when I got drafted by the Oilers they put me at guard. They put me on the second team during camp. They started me the last preseason game for the first time and then I started the season. But I never practiced with the left tackle or the center during camp but the season started and I’m the starter and it really put me behind as far as my development of working with those guys.
So what you learn from that is you want to mix guys in and see who mixes best, how they work best. If we never do that then we will never know. No, we are not naming guys who are starting, they know where the competition is and we are going to keep rotating spots that we want to see competition. Like you do on defense a lot, you mix the nickel package. As a staff that is the stuff you have to do so you find out as quickly as you can who is the best guy to play.
That is the stuff we wish we could have done last year, but we didn’t know what we had. So now we can do a lot of things that are more interesting. And watching practice you are not going to be able to tell what we are doing all the time. We are just trying to get the best guys ready to play.
Like I said I want to be able to call a player in and sit them down and explain their situation. Why this guy is playing and why not. I want him to feel like he had a fair chance to prove why he should have been the starter. But if I never give him a chance then that really wasn’t fair to him or the team. So I think you take the situation throughout and that is how we are trying to run things and we couldn’t do last year.
On choosing safety Aaron Francisco compared to other options in the league
The guys thought he was a better fit than the other guys that we had to choose from. We liked the size, a physical guy, just the kind of things we’re looking for. A guy in the box that can play a little bit, gave us some depth there. Because we knew Markelle Martin, his situation with his knee getting scoped, we’re worried about numbers there. So just the best fit, right now, to help us with numbers and see.
He’s been places and has started and played games and done well. He’s played so, that encouraged us a lot too. So, I think its a great opportunity for him. He comes in a situation where he’s done it, he’s played a little bit, he brings a little experience to the position, and we see what happens.
On Markelle Martin’s recovery timeframe
Same thing, I mean we can sit here and give you the two-three weeks. Maybe it’ll be four, maybe it’ll be two. So, I think he’s going to be back. The whole thinking of him was the same way, to get something done so he can get healthy. Now he has a chance to maybe come back enough to where he can get the end of camp, play the last couple of games. Maybe he contributes on special teams. If he doesn’t jump up right away, then you can work him into the roster as you go through the season.
On Markelle Martin’s scope
I think he had it on Wednesday. Yesterday or Wednesday. In the last couple of days.
On whether the quarterback decision will be made by the third preseason game
Well I think we have no choice but to. We can’t wait past that. I mean in any position, again just philosophy wise, you got to do what’s best for your team and you got to make a decision. In some cases, there may be a reason you can’t, but in something like that you’re obviously hoping you can get it done the sooner the better because you’ll want to move forward.
You have to give the quarterback a chance to be ready to play that opener and get him in more reps we need. That’s why you have to consider all of those things, but I’m not going to put a deadline or anything. It’s more of a common sense deadline that you have to make decisions. You can’t hold off a decision because you don’t want to make it and hurt your team.
On each of the quarterbacks starting one of the preseason games
You know what, I haven’t considered it yet. As far as how we want to best do it, our thing, again, is to live in the moment, get through these next 10 days like I talked about. At 12 days, see where this thing is at and then decide what we think is the best way.
We don’t want to jump out, again, and say, ‘Here’s how we’re going to do it,’ and then we decide after a week that, ‘You know what, let’s do it a different way.’ It’s like anything. Like we talk about guys getting in trouble. Well, you don’t want to jump the gun on something because you don’t want to have to take it back. So, we’re going to consider all of the facts as it goes on. Then, we’ll probably decide when the time comes how we should handle it.
On who had a better offseason between Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker
You know I’m not going to answer that