NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Greetings, people of Earth.

I requested questions. You kindly provided them. I shall attempt to answer. I like how this works.

Paul Kuharsky: I think linebacker James Harrison will be part of things if Dick LeBeau wants him, and I expect he will. I think he'd be the one Steeler to come over. We need to see what the outside linebacker options are after more cuts, after the tag period ends in a few days and then with re-signings before March 10. But the Titans will go after an edge guy, for sure. I could see them grabbing Doug Free or Jermey Parnell from Dallas to take over at right tackle. And see the next question regarding the biggest free agent to-be.

Paul Kuharsky: Well, it's all important; everything works in concert. But the current roster has way more players with talent and options on the defensive line than at outside linebacker. Outside linebacker is the No. 1 priority not just on defense, but for the entire team. I'm expecting a free agent and a high draft pick to address the spot. I think Derrick Morgan will wind up elsewhere. All that said, the biggest thing you want is a super-impact guy. If Ndamukong Suh makes it to the market, he's such a significant impact guy that I believe they will be in the chase.

Paul Kuharsky: Because Nicole Holder testified in court that Greg Hardy "looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me. I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said, 'Just do it. Kill me.'"

Paul Kuharsky: White/gold. While it's silly, I love this thing and here's why. We've divided up into teams on something completely nonsensical and whimsical. Liberals and conservative, Yankees fans and Red Sox fans, Hatfields and McCoys are standing together based on black/blue or white/gold. We've set aside our other differences in the name of how we divide on this one random thing. Can this dress actually help America get along better? OK, I'm stretching with that last part. If you're black/blue, I want no part of you.

Paul Kuharsky: Given the large list of needs, I can't see a high pick on another running back. If they draft one, I'd expect he's fourth round or lower. Bishop Sankey needs to play a lot better and get more opportunity in Year 2.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As if the list of pending free agents wasn't enough, we’re starting to see other players who might be of interest coming onto the market.

ESPN’s Adam Caplan recently gave us a rundown of his most likely salary-cap cuts. One of them, running back Reggie Bush, has already been released.

Hali
Cole
Jones
A. Jones
Collins
Four names on Caplan's list strike me as guys the Titans could be interested in: Kansas City outside linebacker Tamba Hali, Philadelphia outside linebacker Trent Cole, Indianapolis defensive lineman Arthur Jones and Buccaneers tackle Anthony Collins.

The Titans showed interest in Jones a year ago before he signed with the Colts.

I asked ESPN resident scout Matt Williamson about those four and how each could fit in Tennessee.

“All make sense and are scheme-fits,” he said. “Hali and Cole are similar and both have played very well in a 3-4 as an OLB. Dick LeBeau also has a history of having shorter, leverage-type OLBs, which suits both, but especially Cole. Although Cole’s best days were as a 4-3 end. Still, both bring something off the edge and are far from done.

“I like Jones as well. Tough guy that would be a defensive end for Tennessee, but can be moved around the line a bit. He’s a run-stuffer, but can also push the pocket. I would think LeBeau would be quite fond of him.”

“Collins was a great third tackle for the Bengals and did really well when he got in as a starter due to injuries, but like the rest of Tampa Bay’s offensive line last year, he really struggled as an every-week starting left tackle. He can play either side but is a little frightening. Guess it depends on cost with him. I would be afraid to overpay.”

There is a going to be a huge push to add edge rushers. Top players in free agency, such as the Chiefs' Justin Houston, are bound to get tagged and not make it to market.

The more out there, the better, of course.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

Tommy Smith’s work as head of the Titans' ownership group is the same as that of his late father-in-law, Bud Adams, says David Climer of The Tennessean.

To which I say: I think Smith hates this perception -- meet the new boss, same as the old boss -- and wants desperately to be very different than Adams. The way he’s moving the organization away from Bud’s beloved light blue is symbolic of this. That the perception Climer writes from can even exist should show Smith he’s failing so far in a mission to take the organization in a different direction.

The Titans traded back in the second round in 2005 before they took left tackle Michael Roos. The extra pick they got became the guy who played right tackle for a long time, David Stewart. Mike Keith of the Titans talks about Roos’ retirement with GM Ruston Webster.

USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams is the Titans' pick Insider in Todd McShay’s third mock draft.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Michael Roos, who announced his retirement Thursday, represents a lot of ways the Tennessee Titans, and everyone in the NFL, want things to pan out.

In 2005, a year away from the end of Brad Hopkins's 13-year tenure as the Oilers/Titans left tackle, the team set out to find his replacement.

They asked their very good offensive line coach, Hall of Famer Mike Munchak, to evaluate the field and pick the guy the team should target.

He found a relatively raw guy from a less-than-big program, worked him out, got to know him and was sold.

The Titans spent their second-rounder, the 41st overall pick, on Roos out of Eastern Washington.

He played right tackle as a rookie, took over for Hopkins a year later and was a permanent fixture protecting the blind side of a variety of quarterbacks. He finished his career with 148 starts.

Only Khalif Barnes, drafted 52nd by Jacksonville, has had close to Roos' staying power. With the Jags and Raiders he has started only 116 games, including eight at right tackle and four at left guard for Oakland in 2014.

Roos is easily the cream of that crop.

He was a standup guy, but not a guy who sought the cameras or any sort of spotlight.

He was a quiet, low-key worker who got steadily better and did well to set a tone, understand a locker room, and, most importantly, keep high-quality pass-rushers at bay.

With him gone, the Titans need to find more like him.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In their news release announcing that left tackle Michael Roos is retiring after 10 years, the Tennessee Titans offered quotes from a variety of people who worked with him.

Tommy Smith -- Titans CEO/president

Roos
"On behalf of the organization, I want to thank Michael for his 10 years of outstanding play for our franchise. On a weekly basis, he was a player that you could count on to play his best, year after year. He was a true pro and I am thrilled that he was able to play his entire career as a Titan. I wish Michael and Katherine the very best in the next chapter of their lives."

Ruston Webster -- Titans general manager

"I want to thank Michael Roos for his contribution to the Titans organization. Michael has been a true 'pro,' and a model of consistency throughout his tenure here. He had the unique ability to make playing a very difficult position look effortless. Playing one of the toughest positions on the field, he was a player that Titans fans could count on week in and week out, and one of the most durable players in the history of the franchise. I would like to congratulate him on an outstanding 10-year career, and I wish Michael and his wife, Katherine, the best in the future."

Ken Whisenhunt -- Titans head coach

"I was only with Michael for one season, but I admired him as an opponent for many years. Working with him last year, I was impressed by his physical talent but also what he brought to the table as a 'pro.' He showed up every day and helped others get better. He was a tremendous resource for our younger players. It was very evident why he had been a Pro Bowl player. I appreciate how he handled a very difficult season. I want to thank him for his professionalism and wish him the best in retirement."

Mike Munchak -- Steelers offensive line coach and coach for Roos in nine of his 10 seasons

"Michael was such an intelligent football player. He always understood his opponent, our offensive scheme, their defensive scheme and all the angles involved. That knowledge and film work let him play with a great deal of confidence. We knew after watching him for one day of practice that he was going to be a starter, he just had so much natural ability. To start at left tackle on the road at Pittsburgh as a rookie and then play the next week at right tackle showed how special he was at an early stage of his development. He built upon that season, getting better and better each season with the reps and at times made it look effortless. As coaches, we were never concerned about his matchup, because he could handle any opponent, whether it was a big guy or an athletic guy. I know success will be a part of whatever is next for Michael and I wish him the best."

Kevin Mawae -- Former Titan center

"Congrats to Michael Roos on his retirement from the NFL. He was a great teammate and a friend in and out of the locker room. Michael was professional in every aspect, and served as an example of what a professional football player should be. I am proud to say that we played together. I wish the best of luck to him and Kat in the next season of their lives."

David Stewart -- Former Titans right tackle

"He led by example and made everybody better. It was an honor to have him around my entire career to push me and make me a better player."

Eugene Amano -- Former Titan center-guard

"What a career he's had. From the minute he stepped in the building he took care of business. He was as reliable as they came. He rarely missed practice, let alone a game. It was an honor to play alongside him for the majority of my career. It's rare to walk away from the game on your own terms, and I'm happy for him for being able to do that."

Taylor Lewan -- Current Titans left tackle

"Michael was a cornerstone of this offense for the last 10 years. His leadership and work ethic were great examples. He was a great football player and a better person."

Titans LT Michael Roos retires

February, 26, 2015
Feb 26
12:28
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[+] EnlargeMichael Roos
Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesOffensive tackle Michael Roos played 10 seasons for the Titans, missing just one game in the first nine. He played five games in 2014 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Longtime Tennessee Titans left tackle Michael Roos is retiring after 10 seasons, the team announced Thursday.

Roos, 32, was a second-round pick out of Eastern Washington in 2005. He played five games in 2014 before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

"Michael was such an intelligent football player," said Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, who was in the same post with the Titans and helped the team decide to draft him.

"He always understood his opponent, our offensive scheme, their defensive scheme and all the angles involved. That knowledge and film work let him play with a great deal of confidence. ... As coaches, we were never concerned about his matchup, because he could handle any opponent, whether it was a big guy or an athletic guy."

Roos played his rookie season at right tackle, then moved to the left side. In his first nine seasons, he missed just one game, after an emergency appendectomy in 2012.

The Titans used the 11th pick in the 2014 draft on left tackle Taylor Lewan as Roos entered the final year of his contract.

Roos' injury resulted in OATS surgery, which stands for Osteoarticular Transfer System.

"A piece of bone came loose, so they cleaned that out and drilled new holes, new bone out of my knee to fill that hole," Roos said.

Roos said in late December that he was seriously considering retirement, and that the mental drain of his 10 seasons also was a big factor.

The Titans plan to go forward with Lewan as their left tackle. Their 2014 right tackle, Michael Oher


(Read full post)


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In draft analysis circles, it’s difficult to find a less-than-stellar review of USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

But Greg Cosell, who studies players for NFL Films, has watched four game of Williams and isn’t overwhelmed.

"I’m going to be in the minority here, and I am sure there are a lot of people who think I am a moron, and it wouldn’t be the first time, but I’m not blown away by Leonard Williams," Cosell said in his weekly interview with my Nashville radio show, The Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone.

"I think he tends to play high, I think he tends to show his chest, which is a really bad thing for a defensive lineman. I wouldn’t say he’s a natural pass-rusher. I didn’t think he played real well sort of in space. I thought there were too many snaps in which he was moved by double teams. I think that he’s flash player. Every once in a while you see a certain play and you go, 'Wow, that’s pretty good.' But I don’t see him as a purely explosive player the way you’d think of let’s say a Gerald McCoy coming out of Oklahoma or a Sheldon Richardson coming out of Missouri.

"Again, I’m not going to sit here and tell you he’s a bad player. But people are talking about him now as if he’s a Hall of Fame player. I’ve watched four games now, and some people would say that’s plenty, and I’ll probably watch even more because I know I’m in the minority and I want to make sure I’m not missing anything -- but that’s what I see on film."

If the Tennessee Titans have a similar feeling, I could see them concluding their bigger need isn’t on the line, but at outside linebacker, and looking to drop in the first round and land Dante Fowler Jr., Randy Gregory, Shane Ray, or Vic Beasley.

Cosell said Gregory is a better athlete, more explosive and more flexible, but not as strong as last year’s No. 1 pick, Jadeveon Clowney. Colleague Tania Ganguli reflected on that from a Texans’ perspective.

Cosell is also very high on Fowler, who he said could be a Clay Matthews or Justin Houston.

Listen to the whole Cosell interview here.

You can also check on Williams discussing his versatility and his relationship with the Titans' best defensive player, end Jurrell Casey.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans

Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan is working towards an MBA and wondering about where he will be playing next year, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. A return to Tennessee is a viable option for him, he said.

Safety Michael Griffin had serious shoulder surgery in January, and had knee surgery this week, writes Wyatt. “On Tuesday, doctors cleaned an infected area in Griffin's knee while doing a procedure designed to promote healthy tissue growth.”

Mike Munchak brought Penn State teammate Chet Parlavecchio onto his Titans staff from the high school ranks in New Jersey. Now, writes David Boclair of the Nashville Post, Parlavecchio has a new head coaching gig at a New Jersey high school.

Former Titans right tackle Michael Oher visited the Carolina Panthers, writes Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In further pondering the Titans' announcement Tuesday that the teams' top Nashville non-football administrator Don MacLachlan resigned, I was struck by something.

In the key piece of the statement from team president and CEO Tommy Smith, he used the word "we" five times.

Now I understand and appreciate the big boss of a team preferring to use "we" over "I," particularly in the context of a team.

[+] EnlargeTommy Smith
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesTitans president and CEO Tommy Smith has reshaped the front office in his second year.
But if "for some other positions, we are in the interview process" as Smith said, and his chief non-football lieutenant is gone, I'm wondering who's the we doing the interviewing?

Smith has been in his post for about 16 months, and one of the lingering questions is about who his confidantes are.

MacLachlan sure seemed to be one, but since he was shoved out, he clearly wasn't in the good standing I thought he was. General manager Ruston Webster and the coach Webster helped Smith select, Ken Whisenhunt, are two more.

Webster and Whisenhunt wield great organizational power. They put together and coached a team that went 2-14 in 2014.

Should they have much clout about who's coming in on the business side of things when they're faring so poorly on their own side? They need to work well with new people, certainly, but I don't know they should have much of a say.

The optics of the failing football guys being able to preach continuity while the business guy loses his job aren't great. Smith shouldn't worry about appearances, however, as much as he should worry about getting things right.

He said he sort of sat back and watched how things operated last season. His assessment complete, it's time to move forward with his plan. And while the people executing it shouldn't hurry, Nashville needs to see some results in relative short order.

As for the confidante question ...

Elza Bullock is the lone Titans employee with a senior vice president title, and he's also the team's general counsel. He's in Houston with Smith where he also is general counsel for KSA Industries, the other big business founded by Titans founder Bud Adams, Smith's late son-in-law.

Bullock could certainly be part of "we."

Others with increased power now: Stuart Spears, promoted to a vice president post with a title of chief revenue officer; Jenneen Kaufman, VP/CFO; Ralph Okenfels, the VP of marketing.

Smith is just over a year removed from hiring Whisenhunt.

The head of the ownership group handed over so much of that coaching hire to Webster that he spoke to Whisenhunt only by phone and met him only when both got to Nashville for his introduction.

A year later it's somewhat difficult to think Smith has grown so comfortable in his role that he's leading searches and conducting his own interviews.

He's probably more comfortable making changes and hires on the business side because he's a businessman more than a football guy.

MacLachlan was very much a public face of the team in Nashville. That alone didn't make him good, I understand. But the team on the field is pretty faceless, and now the organization is, too.

I've made the case that Smith being the absentee owner is not a bad thing, that he doesn't have to live in Nashville to be a successful owner or head a successful franchise.

But Smith is uncomfortable as a frontman and he's not going to be a public face of the team. He and the organization need one from the non-football side. If MacLachlan's job is broken up into multiple pieces, it'll be harder for such a person to exist, and while the altered structure might be good for the team, not having that person out front will hurt.

I do not get the sense that there will be a person with the sort of title, power or presence MacLachlan had. Rather I suspect four or five people in charge of big areas will be reporting to Smith.

That could make long-distance ownership a bit more difficult.

We'll be learning a lot more about Smith as we get a feel for how that works.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- James Casey is a good guy to have on a roster.

The tight end/H-back is versatile. He can line up on the line or in the backfield. He can even play some snaps out of the slot.

Casey
He didn’t do much in Philadelphia where he was an early free-agent addition for Chip Kelly’s Eagles.

Colleague Adam Caplan says the Titans are on Casey’s tour of teams as he looks for his next job.

The Titans have a top tight end in Delanie Walker. Craig Stevens is a very good blocker, but he missed all but five games last year due to injuries.

Taylor Thompson looked primed to emerge as a good pass target but he only played three games before a knee injury cost him the rest of the season.

The Titans wound up using Chase Coffman in 13 games, Brett Brackett in seven and Matthew Mulligan in two while overloading Walker.

Casey would do a lot to bolster depth.

But he can probably find a situation where he’d start out better than competing for the third spot.

Titans still have a shot at the best player in the draft

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
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video
Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky says USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams would be a terrific fit in Nashville.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans

Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor, who is about to be a free agent, reiterates he’d come to Nashville because of defensive coach Dick LeBeau, and says other players feel the same, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

“For a franchise that desperately lacks personality, [Don] MacLachlan was a friendly, familiar face in the community.” The Tennessean’s David Climer on the resignation of the head of the non-football side of the Titans.

The Titans' new head of facilities and game-day operations, Bob Flynn, has a tie to the Titans but comes from the NHL's Nashville Predators. Writes David Boclair of the Nashville Post: “For more than 15 years, the Predators have fought to carve out their spot in this market while operating in the shadow of the Titans. Now, at a time when things are at their worst for the local NFL franchise, it wants a little of what the NHL club has going on. My, how times have changed.”

Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com has the Titans taking Leonard Williams and the Eagles trading to No. 4 for Marcus Mariota in his latest mock draft.

The newest mock draft from Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com also has the Titans taking Williams, the defensive lineman from USC.

Late to this, but still worth a mention: Titans tight end Delanie Walker was inducted into Central Missouri’s Hall of Fame. A video from Amie Wells of the team’s website.

What the NFL could and should do about domestic violence, from Aaron Gordon of Vice Sports. (I am connected to the MEND initiative in Nashville that’s included in this piece.)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Time and time again, under a mostly invisible owner, Don MacLachlan was the guy facing fire from Tennessee Titans fans for anything and everything that went wrong -- whether it was his issue or not.

As recently as Sunday, the Titans executive vice president of administration and facilities had a former player in his face belittling him for problems some alumni have with the team. That’s largely a problem or perceived problem created by coach Ken Whisenhunt, but MacLachlan was on the front line at a local radio station event.

He took what was dished out while staying calm and reasoned while promoting two current players on a team loaded with mostly unmarketable guys.

For a franchise that has become moribund in many ways, he brought constant energy and enthusiasm.

[+] EnlargeDon MacLachlan
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyTitans executive vice president Don MacLachlan, right, walks with Ken Whisenhunt to Whisehunt's introductory news conference.
But the Titans announced Tuesday that he had resigned.

If McLachlan did resign, I suspect it was only because he was going to be fired. That the Titans had immediate word of some of the replacement plans indicate that this was in the works for at least a while.

So in exchange for being an administrative face of the franchise while the head of the team’s ownership group, the inexperienced and perhaps overmatched Tommy Smith, got to stay way in the background, MacLachlan got shoved out.

Both Smith and MacLachlan offered the standard press release line offering thanks.

I'm not impartial. I've known MacLachlan since 1996 and was a fan of the way he carried himself and the constant spark he brought. I like him professionally and personally.

The team’s bad year certainly extended beyond its 2-14 record. Following pledges from Smith that game-day operations would be enhanced, there was at least one game where there was a major backup at the gate that delayed fans from getting into LP Field. There were steady complaints about the new concessionaire, Aramark.

Maybe both sides ultimately needed a change.

But the move begs for Smith to step out from behind the guy who did most of his public PR and to explain what’s happened and the plan going forward.

“While we are sad to see Don go, we know there also is a great deal of work ahead of us to improve our organization," Smith said in a statement. “Over the last year, one of my primary objectives was to monitor how things have been operating within the team. This offseason, we have decided to make changes in a number of areas from both a personnel standpoint and a structural standpoint. As of today, we have hired or promoted some of these people already; and for some other positions, we are in the interview process. This is not an easy process, but these changes will reflect a shift in our approach and hopefully will result in making our fans proud.”

What’s the shift in approach? Could he be more vague?

MacLachlan’s departure came with an announcement of one in-house promotion and one outside hire with previous ties to the organization. Also, senior director of ticketing Marty Collins and director of ticket operations Tim Zenner were recently fired, the team confirmed.

Stuart Spears, who has been with the organization for a total of 28 years and has served most recently as vice president of business operations and sales, will become the team’s chief revenue officer. I know Whisenhunt quickly became very fond of Spears.

Spears is a hard-working guy who’s popular in the building and might be fantastic in his new role. But as Smith looks for a shift in approach, he’s promoting someone who’s been part of the franchise's approach since 1987.

Bob Flynn, who has most recently served as senior director of corporate partnerships for the NHL’s Nashville Predators, will become the Titans’ head of facilities and game day operations. Flynn previously was an Arena Football League general manager, including for four years with the Nashville Kats. The Kats were controlled by the Titans while Flynn was employed.

More news of new people and new roles is surely to come.

Don MacLachlan resigns from Titans

February, 24, 2015
Feb 24
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[+] EnlargeMacLachlan
Getty ImagesDon MacLachlan, who was with the Tennessee Titans organization for 24 years, resigned Tuesday.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Don MacLachlan, the Tennessee Titans' longtime top non-football executive in Nashville, resigned, the team announced Tuesday.

MacLachlan was with the organization for 24 years, and was instrumental in the move from Houston to Nashville and the building of what is now LP Field.

A cheery face of the franchise who was super-visible, he helped shield Tommy Smith, who took over as president and CEO in October 2013 after team founder Bud Adams died, from a good deal of public scrutiny.

The Titans were 2-14 in the first full season with Smith in charge and with the coach he chose to hire, Ken Whisenhunt, at the helm.

The bad year also included issues in game-day operations -- with insufficient gates open for one game delaying fans getting into the stadium and steady complaints about the new concessionaire, Aramark.

Smith said in a statement that he has been monitoring the team's operations over the past year.

"We know there also is a great deal of work ahead of us to improve our organization," Smith said. "Over the last year, one of my primary objectives was to monitor how things have been operating within the team. This offseason, we have decided to make changes in a number of areas from both a personnel standpoint and a structural standpoint."

Stuart Spears, the team's vice president of business operations and sales, will become the team's chief revenue officer.

Bob Flynn has been hired as the Titans' head of facilities and game-day operations. He comes from the NHL's Nashville Predators


(Read full post)


Take a listen to this week's NFL Nation TV podcast as the crew breaks down the lessons it learned from last week's NFL combine in Indianapolis, as well as the latest in the push for bringing the NFL to Los Angeles.

Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) are joined by four other NFL Nation reporters.

Eric Williams (San Diego Chargers reporter) joins to give an idea of how feasible it would be for the Raiders and Chargers to share a stadium in Southern California. Pat Yasinskas (Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter) discusses why he thinks Jameis Winston is all but a lock to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Rich Cimini (New York Jets reporter) breaks down which direction the Jets will go with the No. 6 overall draft pick. Will they go with a quarterback? Defense? Receiver? Paul Kuharsky (Tennessee Titans reporter) weighs with his thoughts on where the Titans will turn at No. 2 if Winston is off the board.

Be sure to watch NFL Nation TV live on ESPN.com at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT each Tuesday, and be sure to give the show's a podcast a listen following each taping.

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