Munchak back helping Titans' offensive line again
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)
Titans coach Mike Munchak is back in his personal sweet spot.
He played his way into the Hall of Fame as an offensive lineman and is now working with the Titans' line coach and good friend Bruce Matthews, another Hall of Fame lineman. Together they're helping Tennessee's linemen learn from some of the best to play the game at their position.
Munchak said Friday he wanted to keep working with the offensive line when he became a head coach in February 2011. That was one of the incentives in luring Matthews away from the Houston Texans, where his friend had that same job.
Now Munchak is in his third offseason as a head coach, and he now knows how to use his time more wisely.
''I knew that once I had a good feel for what I was doing, we'd find a way where I could be more involved,'' Munchak said. ''I was still involved to some degree on the offensive side. I'm involved in the whole thing. Now I think I have the time to do it. ... It's kind of a good fit for all of us for me to be in a position where we felt I could help.''
Munchak's timing on his decision to be more hands' on with the offensive line couldn't be much better.
The Titans have revamped their offensive line after injuries sidelined four of the five starters last season with Tennessee going 6-10. Munchak needs to show serious improvement in his third season as head coach, especially after owner Bud Adams approved spending nearly $110 million on free agents this offseason. The first player they signed was left guard Andy Levitre to a six-year, $46.8 million deal, and they signed Rob Turner and Chris Spencer too.
The opportunity to work with two Hall of Fame linemen who both played at guard in their careers was a big factor in Levitre choosing to sign with Tennessee. Munchak was a member of the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1980s with nine Pro Bowl selections. Matthews played 19 seasons with this franchise with 14 Pro Bowl berths starting at each spot on the line.
Levitre said Munchak and Matthews know what it's like to be in a player's position on the offensive line and have great suggestions when challenges arise.
''They know what works,'' Levitre said. ''They've done it and been successful with it, so it's definitely good in that aspect.''
Levitre watched this week as the Titans opened their organized team activities as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery to clean up one of his knees back in January. He hopes to join the linemen in position drills soon and be on the field for the team's minicamp later in June. That means he's been asking Matthews most of his questions.
''If I have a question to ask Munch, I'm not afraid to ask him about it,'' Levitre said. ''I know he has to take care of the entire team, but he's also working with the offensive line.''
The opportunity to be coached by Munchak and Matthews is why right guard Chance Warmack wanted to be drafted by Tennessee so much, and they made him happy by selecting him with the 10th pick overall out of Alabama. Even though he won three national titles in four seasons at Alabama, he's hearing from both men when he does something right and wrong.
''I got beat today and I was talking to coach Matthews and he told me exactly what I did wrong, and I knew exactly what he was talking about,'' Warmack said. ''So just a great experience to talk to two guys that have played the position and strived and done well in that and try to get to that level.''
Matthews had an assistant helping him with the offensive line the past two seasons. Now Nate Kaczor is coaching special teams, so that's another reason why Munchak is pitching in. The extra hands are needed to improve the unit that can help control the line of scrimmage for an offense that was on the field the least of any NFL team in 2012.
Munchak is busy rotating linemen too, especially at center and guard, using competition to further push players to improve in the fight for starting jobs. With him working with Matthews, they've been able to keep offensive linemen busy during individual drills rather than having players stand around and watch. Munchak feels this approach is working well.
''I think it's going to be a good fit, and that allows me still the rest of practice to be wherever I normally would be and run the practice,'' Munchak said. ''This time of year I knew it'd be easy, not easy but fun, and training camp will be the same I hope and we'll try to do the same thing in the season.''
Notes: LT Michael Roos (back) was among a handful of Titans who did not practice Friday, the only open team session this week. But he is expected back next week. Munchak said a handful of players were given Friday off because of soreness from the past few days.