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Scouting report: Titans' defense, special teams

Dec. 23, 2012
 

Jerry Gray is in his second season as defensive coordinator and held the same job with Buffalo from 2001 to 2005. His defense ranks No. 23 in yards allowed, No. 30 in points allowed, No. 25 in rushing yards allowed and No. 15 in yards allowed per carry.

Rushing defense

The front seven isn’t bad and has an ascending player in left end Derrick Morgan (6-3, 278), the No. 16 pick in 2010 who appears to be all the way back after blowing out his knee as a rookie and having a clean-up surgery last year. Defensive tackle SenDerrick Marks (6-2, 294) is active and strong, and Jurrell Casey (6-1, 300) is a plugger-type in the middle. The Titans have missed middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (6-1, 238), who has missed the last three games because of a concussion but is expected back this week. He’s undersized but is tough and instinctive against the run.

Passing defense

The Titans rank No. 25 in defensive passer rating (92.3), No. 19 in passing yards allowed and No. 20 in yards allowed per pass. They have three decent outside rushers in Morgan, Kamerion Wimbley (6-4, 255) and linebacker Akeem Ayers (6-3, 254). Morgan (41/2 sacks) is a combo speed and power rusher; Wimbley (five sacks) is strictly a speed rusher who can get under defensive tackles as he turns the corner; and Ayers (five sacks), who rotates at end on passing downs, isn’t as physical as his size suggests but has decent speed around the edge.

Cornerback Jason McCourty (6-0, 188) is the best player in a solid secondary. He has four interceptions and is becoming one of the game’s better cover men because he has good speed to go with his toughness and instincts. The other starting cornerback, Alterraun Verner (5-10, 187), is tough and smart but not in McCourty’s class as an athlete. Michael Griffin (6-0, 203) is one of the game’s better cover safeties and has 20 interceptions in his six-year career. Jordan Babineaux (6-0, 210) is a good-sized safety who at age 30 runs only OK but knows his position and scheme.

Special teams

Rob Bironas at age 34 remains one of the league’s better kickers. He has an excellent 85.5 percent mark on field goal attempts in his career, including 80.0 percent (24-for-30) this season. He’s 1-for-2 this season from 50 yards or more.

Punter Brett Kern (6-3, 201) is erratic but ranks No. 7 in net average (41.4 yards) and No. 10 in gross (47.5 yards). Darius Reynaud (5-9, 201) ranks No. 16 in kickoff returns (24.6-yard average, one touchdown) and No. 17 on punts (8.8-yard average, no touchdowns).

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