Titans defense still looking to recover 1st fumble of season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans are mired in a serious drought when it comes to intercepting passes and recovering fumbles.
They have forced just one turnover over the past month, and their defense has only six interceptions with no fumbles forced. They're tied with the New York Giants for the fewest fumbles taken away this season, and both teams recovered the ball on special teams.
''We feel like we're kind of due for some,'' Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan said. ''We'll see. We've got to keep working. We can't get in panic mode by any means. We just got to keep working, and hopefully they'll come.''
The Titans started the season on a good pace with six interceptions in the span of four games. Since two interceptions in a win at Miami on Oct. 9, Tennessee is lucky rookie LeShaun Sims recovered a fumble on a muffed punt by Jacksonville on Oct. 27.
Tennessee (4-5) hosts Green Bay (4-4) on Sunday, and stripping the ball has been a focus in practice this week as the Titans try to boost those takeaway numbers. The Packers have lost six fumbles this season.
Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said they want a second defender coming in and stripping the ball and tipping more passes to create opportunities. He said great defenses force turnovers and turn them into points. The Titans have only 13 points off their seven takeaways this season compared to 44 points scored by opponents off Tennessee's 13 giveaways.
Seven takeaways simply isn't getting the job done.
''That's not what we're looking at,'' Casey said. ''We're looking 20-plus turnovers already, and we need to start making them happen.''
While Tennessee hasn't gotten the bounces defensively, the offense has seen balls go straight to opponents. Five touchdowns have been scored off Titans' turnovers – two in separate games this season, including last week's 43-35 loss at San Diego.
Dwight Lowery took a fumble by Marcus Mariota 36 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, while Brandon Flowers ran an interception back 33 yards for another TD in the fourth quarter.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey doesn't see the five touchdowns off 13 turnovers as bad luck no matter how much the ball seems to bounce straight to the opponents.
''The ball has not bounced, especially these fumbles, they've bounced to those guys and they've taken advantage of it,'' Mularkey said. ''They've gone untouched, basically, running into the end zone. It hasn't been like they've made great plays. It's been free runs.''
The combination has the Titans tied for 26th in the NFL in turnover ratio at minus-6. The Packers have taken as well as they've given and are at minus-1 in that category. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said it's all about creating opportunities, and his Packers know they have to be better at protecting the ball against an aggressive defense like Tennessee.
''They've definitely got the players to take it away from us,'' McCarthy said.
Notes: RB DeMarco Murray (toe) and RT Jack Conklin (right elbow) were limited Thursday. Mularkey said he expects both to play Sunday. RB Derrick Henry (calf) missed his second straight practice. Henry said he may practice a bit Friday and still hopes to play Sunday. … LG Quinton Spain (right knee) practiced for a second straight day, but Mularkey said Brian Schwenke remains at starter for now while Spain continues working his way back. … S Rashad Johnson (neck), TE Delanie Walker (groin) and LB Aaron Wallace (shoulder) also practiced.
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