Titans' D will rely on signals, not helmet

July, 27, 2013
7/27/13
5:18
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The coach-to-defender communication device isn’t going to play much of a role for the Titans in terms of keeping a middle linebacker on the field every down.

Maybe the starting middle linebacker, be it incumbent Colin McCarthy or challenger Moise Fokou, is a three-down player. Or maybe he’s very much a two-down player the way Barron Wortham was when Jerry Gray and Gregg Williams coached the Titans' defense together.

With second-year outside linebacker Zach Brown and third-rounder Zaviar Gooden among the fastest outside linebacker in the NFL, there could be times the Titans turn to two coverage backers. With Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard and George Wilson on the roster, there will be times the team plays three safeties -- and in many of those instances Pollard could be working as if he’s a linebacker. We may see more dime with just one linebacker on the field.

Gray, the defensive coordinator, said McCarthy or Fokou will have the responsibility of calling the defense and getting people organized.

But that doesn’t mean someone else won’t be doing the job when sub-packages are deployed, and that may be as often as it’s been since the franchise moved to Tennessee.

There are a lot of options.

And because there are, players won’t rely on a guy in the huddle to make the call. They’ll rely on getting it from the coaches themselves.

“The good thing is we’re not even using coach-to-helmet this training camp,” Gray said. “We’re signaling everything. They don’t know who’s going to signal, because we’ve got three or four guys signaling, like baseball. So if you want to video, that’s going to be out -- not a shot.

“The thing I think we’ve got to do is, we’ve got to be smarter. Because if the Mike linebacker is not there, it got us like that last year. We’ve got to learn the signals and we’re making everybody learn signals, we’re going through signal-calling meetings and those things. I think we’ve got to make sure we’re ahead of the curve, not waiting until something happens. Let’s go out and make it happen, be in front of it.”

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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