Titans notebook: DE Casey shines, thin at TE, ref errors
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If there is one member of the Titans playing worthy of Pro Bowl consideration, it has to be third-year defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.
In Sunday’s 22-14 loss at Indianapolis, Casey constantly wreaked havoc despite getting the attention of double-team blocking. But he still had eight tackles, including a team-leading eighth sack and ninth quarterback pressure of the season.
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In all, the Titans had five sacks of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
“I just felt (it was) great conditions for pass rush guys,” Munchak said. “They love playing indoors. They love playing on the fast track like that rather than playing on the grass where things get slower and the weather can be a factor. I think you saw that with our guys.”
Indoors or outdoors, Casey has been getting it done on the interior of the defensive line since being selected in the third round of the 2011 draft out of Southern Cal. He had 80 tackles last season after 74 stops as a rookie.
Before the start of the season, Casey set a personal goal of at least 19 sacks. That would break Titans defensive line assistant coach Keith Millard’s NFL record 18 sacks by an interior lineman set in 1989.
“Yeah, man, I wanted the 19 (sacks),” said Casey, who is tied for second in the NFL in sacks for defensive tackles. “I am going to keep on pushing until the season is over. So, if it happens, it is going to come.
“But I just know it is going to happen during my time in my career. I just do what I do. I have team goals, but I am pushing for my personal goals, also.”
A team goal for Casey is making the playoffs, which the Titans haven’t done since 2008 and are now on the outside looking in for the final playoff spot with its 5-7 record. Both the Ravens and Dolphins are 6-6, and the Titans have a daunting task Sunday at Denver before returning home the following Sunday to face resurgent Arizona.
“As of right now and the playoffs, it’s still a shot,” Casey said. “We can still win these last four games, so we’re just going to keep on fighting. At the end of the day, it’s not in our control any more.
” … Now, we just have to go out there and try to win these last four, and whatever plays out plays out.”
Titans thin at tight end
Tight end Delanie Walker departed Sunday’s game in the second quarter after apparently suffering a concussion while being tackled trying to catch a short pass over the middle. His status for Sunday’s game is in doubt.
With backup tight end Craig Stevens already missing the last game, also with a concussion, the Titans are down to only one tight end — second-year Taylor Thompson — currently on the roster, should Walker and Stevens be unavailable Sunday.
“Just saw him briefly,” Munchak said Monday of checking Walker’s status. “I think it’s just like (Craig) Stevens, just kind of see how he goes through the process the next few days.
“I think Stevens worked out (Monday), so we’ll see how he is. The next couple days, we’ll know more about both of those.”
Losing Walker early in the game hurt the Titans’ offense against the Colts. He had become a favorite target of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, catching 19 passes the previous three games. Overall, he is second on the team with a career-high 45 catches, including a team-leading five touchdown receptions.
“When you lose a player that last time you played (the Colts) caught 10 balls that they had trouble covering, definitely,” Munchak said how losing Walker hampered the offense. ” … One thing that can’t happen is you lose a tight end, and it happened the first 10 plays. That was hard.”
Munchak will take a wait-and-see approach on the status of both Walker and Stevens for possibly adding a tight end to the roster via free agency.
“That’s what we’re going to have to look at as far as what the reality is of those two guys, if at least one of them is playing,” Munchak said. “If that’s the case, then what’s our alternatives with other tight ends that could help us this weekend.”
NFL: Refs missed three calls
The NFL informed the Titans on Monday that game officials missed three calls Sunday that went against the Titans.
The first came in the first quarter on the play in which Walker was injured. The ruling on the field was an incomplete pass, although replays clearly showed he made the catch and the ground caused the fumble.
After being told Walker bobbled the ball on the incompletion, Munchak challenged and lost a timeout when the ruling on the field was upheld.
The second blown call came on the last play of the first half when linebacker Moise Fokou was flagged for unnecessary roughness and a 15-yard penalty for a hit on Colts fullback Stanley Havili. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri then kicked a 37-yard field goal on what have should been a 52-yard attempt after the league said the penalty should have only been five yards for illegal contact.
The third missed call came early in the second half when Titans running back Shonn Greene was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after an 8-yard gain. He repeatedly clapped his hands in the face and exchanged words with Colts defender LaRon Landry, but the league said a penalty should have not have assessed.
“I probably need to not say a whole lot about that,” Munchak said of the missed calls. “I think mistakes happen. It’s upsetting when you feel they could affect the game one way or another, but you just want consistency when things aren’t going your way.
“I don’t think there’s usually that many, but you know there’s going to be some mistakes.”
Titans host Mr. Football Awards
Since 2007, the Titans have sponsored the state high school Mr. Football Awards that honors the top high school football players in the state.
On Monday in Murfreesboro, Tenn., the annual Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Awards Luncheon welcomed more than 500 people, including 33 honorees, family members, coaches, school administrators and media members from across the state. High school head coaches and media members nominated the finalists. A committee of statewide sports writers selected winners.
The top three back and linemen in each of five classifications were presented before each winner was announced. They included:
Division I, Class A Lineman – Zach Stewart, Coalfield
Division I, Class A Back – Jajuan Lankford, South Pittsburg
Division I, Class AA Lineman – Paul Adams, CPA
Division I, Class AA Back – Daryl Rollins-Davis, Fulton
Division I, Class AAA Lineman – Jack Jones, Oakland
Division I, Class AAA Back – Josh Malone, Station Camp
Division II-A Lineman – Brant Mitchell, Knoxville Webb
Division II-A Back – Todd Kelly, Knoxville Webb
Division II-AA Lineman – Derek Barnett, Brentwood Academy
Division II-AA Back – D’Andre Ferby, Ensworth
Kicker of the Year – Rafael Gaglianone, Baylor