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Tennessee Titans Mike Mularkey and Staff looking for their kind of Players

Tennessee TitansNashville, TN – Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey wasted little time in defining the sought-after characteristics of players on his roster. “Smart, tough, physical, coachable and accountable” was how he put it at his opening press conference in January, and the sentiment was echoed in the subsequent months by Robinson.

The winnowing process began with the offseason program from April through June. It continues when players report following a six-week break, and then there are only two weeks from the initial training camp practice to August 13th, when the Titans host the San Diego Chargers in the first of four preseason games.

Tennessee Titans head Mike Mularkeyis searching for his type of players. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Tennessee Titans head Mike Mularkeyis searching for his type of players. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

The preseason itinerary also includes a Saturday afternoon home game against the Carolina Panthers on August 20th, a nationally- televised visit to the Oakland Raiders on August 27th and the final tuneup at the Miami Dolphins on September 1st.

The bulk of the roster decisions occur primarily in two waves: first on August 30th, when the roster is pared from 90 to 75, and second on September 3rd, when final cuts are made. A 10-member practice squad may be formed as early as September 4th.

Mularkey is embarking on his 22nd NFL season as a coach and his fourth as a head coach. He had previous stints as a head coach with the Buffalo Bills (2004–2005) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2012) in addition to his time as an assistant. The former NFL tight end has been an offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2001–2003), Miami Dolphins (2006) and Atlanta Falcons (2008–2011).

Mularkey’s first order of business upon accepting the role as head coach in Tennessee was hiring his top assistants, starting with Dick LeBeau as the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator. A veteran of 57 years as a player or coach in the NFL, LeBeau arrived in 2015 as the assistant head coach/defense, and in his first year in Tennessee, the defense improved in nearly every category, including total defense (27th to 12th), rush defense (31st to 18th) and pass defense (15th to seventh).

LeBeau’s unit looks to get a boost from the return of two veteran leaders who battled injuries last season: cornerback Jason McCourty and outside linebacker Derrick Morgan. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, three-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and ascending players like inside linebacker Avery Williamson and defensive end DaQuan Jones likewise figure prominently in LeBeau’s scheme.

Mularkey’s choice for offensive coordinator was Atlanta Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie. Robiskie has spent six of his 34 years in coaching as an offensive coordinator and was an interim head coach on two occasions.

The offense inherited by Robiskie is one of the club’s youngest in recent years. In 2015, 42.9 percent of the team’s offensive snaps were by rookies, first-year or second-year players; more than a quarter of the offensive snaps—25.8 percent—were by rookies alone. Both numbers represented four-year team highs.

With the unusually high rate of youth, the 2015 offense relied heavily on tight end Delanie Walker. In his 10th NFL campaign, Walker earned his first Pro Bowl nod after setting new franchise tight end records with 94 receptions and 1,088 receiving yards. Walker received a multi-year contract extension earlier in 2016.


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