Munchak wants to improve the offensive line

April 10, 2012

The Titans seem to be making no secret of the fact that they are looking for help on the interior of the offensive line.

The first player to be replaced was free-agent guard Jake Scott, who was not re-signed, but instead was replaced by unrestricted free agent pickup Steve Hutchinson.

It also appears that Eugene Amano, the Titans' starting center the past two seasons, and a left guard before that, is on the brink of being replaced as well.

During the early portion of free agency, the Titans hosted visits from veteran centers Scott Wells, Jeff Saturday and Chris Myers, but wound up losing out on all three players to other bidders.

The latest center to make it in for a visit to Baptist Sports Park is Dan Koppen, formerly of the New England Patriots. Koppen, 32, was a mainstay along the Patriots' offensive line, protecting Tom Brady, but missed all but one game last season due to a broken ankle.

The Titans had serious interest in trying to land Koppen, according to what sources told, as they seek to find some way to improve the interior of the offensive line.

That line was good in pass protection, allowing just 24 sacks during all of the 2011 season. However, the running game, which had long been a staple in the organization during the Jeff Fisher regime, stumbled to 31st overall in Mike Munchak's first year as head coach.

Part of the problem, of course, was Chris Johnson's holdout and the fact that he never really regained his expected form after his big payday.

But even as the Titans continued to say publicly that the interior of the line was not the problem, they have gone about this offseason as if it was. Such a move has put Amano and guard Leroy Harris on notice. Currently (at least until Koppen or someone else comes aboard), both are starters with Harris sliding across from the left side to the right to accommodate Hutchinson. But a signing at center could throw both players into a competition with up-and-comer Fernando Velasco for one starting position. There is also the possibility that the Titans might jettison Amano, if and when they sign a new center from the free-agent market.

Consider this: Both Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews were Hall of Fame players, each considered good teachers with attention to detail a priority. No doubt, neither can stand for the offensive line to be a weak link on the team, which is probably a big part of the impetus for adding veteran help on the line.

Tennessee is rock solid at tackles with Michael Roos and David Stewart, but has lacked that aggressive tone-setter on the inside since the departure of Kevin Mawae two years ago. Hutchinson's demeanor should bring some of that back, and a pickup of a veteran center might increase that "nastiness" level even more.


-The Titans began to bargain shop for numbers at the defensive end position. Tennessee signed former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Leger Douzable, (pronounced LEE-JHAY DOO-zub-ul) to a one-year contract.

Douzable had primarily been a defensive tackle until last year and will play primarily end in Tennessee, but could slide inside at times as well.

"He brings versatility to our defensive line group. He has experience at both end and tackle which gives him value in our defensive scheme. The fact that he is a veteran increases the level of competition within our defensive line and makes for a competitive situation," Titans general manager Ruston Webster said.

-Speaking of defensive end help, the Titans are also looking to potentially bring back one of their old hands, who is an unrestricted free agent. Tennessee has had talks with veteran defensive end Dave Ball, who has been with the club since 2008 and would like to return to the fold.

"We've been discussing things back and forth, and we'll see what happens," Ball said. "I'd definitely like to get something done sooner rather than later if we could."

-The Titans also had in New York Giants free-agent defensive end Dave Tollefson for a visit on Thursday, April 5 as they try to replenish the numbers at the position caused by free-agent defections. Tennessee has already lost Jason Jones and William Hayes. But Tollefson signed with the Raiders.

-The Titans' preseason schedule includes one nationally televised game on Aug. 23 at LP Field against the Arizona Cardinals. The remainder of the Titans' preseason opponents include a road trip to Seattle in Week 1, another trip to Tampa Bay in the second week and closing at home against the New Orleans Saints.

The Titans are playing their first two preseason games away so that renovations to LP Field can be completed. New elevators that will transport fans to the club seats and the upper deck are part of the new installations at the stadium along with a state of the art video board.