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Posts of category  "Titans"

HOUSTON – Kevin Mawae did his part.

The former Titans center played 16 NFL seasons, and was named to eight Pro Bowls during his career. He blocked for Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin with the Jets, and for running back Chris Johnson during his 2,006-yard season in Tennessee. According to Elias, Mawae played 90 games in which there was a 100-yard rusher, the most by any offensive lineman.

In 241 career games, Mawae protected quarterbacks with his life. He was durable – he played in 177 consecutive games during one stretch. And, quite simply, he was the best center of his generation, the first-team, all-decade center for the 2000s.

Now, his Hall of Fame fate is in the hands of the voters.

“I am definitely not losing sleep over it, because it is out of my hands,’’ Mawae said from Super Bowl LI. “It is in the hands of the 48 voters now. I did all I can do — I left it all on the field and now it is up to the voters. I am excited about it, and looking forward to what the outcome may be and whatever happens, happens.

“Whether I get in or not, I won’t complain about not getting in if that were to happen.”

Mawae, in his second year of eligibility, last month reached the final 15, which means his candidacy will be discussed by the 48 voters here on Saturday.

The list will first be narrowed to 10, and then to five. If Mawae reaches the final five, he’d need 80% of the vote to get in.

Former Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thinks Mawae deserves to get in.

“I gained a much greater appreciate for Kevin when he went to Tennessee and Mike Munchak coached him,’’ Matthews said.  “I had known Kevin and played in the Pro Bowl with him. The thing I always appreciated about Kevin was he was a team-first guy. He would have been a teammate I would have enjoyed playing with. When I was playing and he was still at Seattle or the Jets, he is a guy that watched. I think he is definitely deserving and it would be cool to see him go in.”

Shaun O’Hara, who played center for 11 seasons with the Giants and Browns, said he’s pulling for Mawae as well.

Mawae, who played four seasons with the Titans (2006-09) after playing with the Seahawks and Jets, is one of four offensive linemen in the final 15 — Alan Faneca, Joe Jacoby and Tony Boselli are the others.

Mawae blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher in 13 of his 16 seasons. Running backs Chris Warren (1,545 yards in 1994), Martin (1,697 in 2004), LenDale White (1,110 in 2007) and Johnson (2,006 in 2009) had the highest season rushing total of their career with Mawae on the line.

“There wasn’t a block that he couldn’t execute or master, whether it was a back block on a 350-pound nose guard or reach-blocking a shaded nose guard,’’ O’Hara said of Mawae. “He was big on pulling out on a lot of outside plays, which not a lot of centers could do. And he was a very tough guy, and the fact he played as long as he did was a testament to his work ethic and durability. He is absolutely a Hall of Famer in my mind. He is one of the best centers to ever play the game, so I am certainly pulling for him this weekend. I know he’ll get it. It is not a question of if, it is really just when.”

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, a Hall of Fame voter who has covered the NFL for 38 years, expects there to be a lot of conversation about Mawae.

“I’m open to hearing all arguments for Kevin Mawae, and I have had a lot of people lobbying me,’’ McClain said. “And I believe he has the credentials for the Hall of Fame. But this is his first time as a finalist, and I don’t believe he’ll get in his first time as a finalist.

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HOUSTON — Cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson was released by the Titans in August, but in some ways he never really left.

A third-round pick by the team in the 2013 draft, Wreh-Wilson remains in a group text chat with his former Titans teammates. He’s kept up with them, and the team

Today, Wreh-Wilson is at Super Bowl LI as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

“It’s all support from the guys in Tennessee,’’ Wreh-Wilson said. “We went through a lot together, and those guys played their hearts out this year. They had a chance to go to the playoffs until late in the season, and that’s something we never had when I was there. It didn’t work out the way they wanted this year, but they definitely went about it the right way. Me, I was lucky enough to get picked up by a team that was rolling and we went to the playoffs and now here I am.”

Wreh-Wilson said veterans Jason McCourty and Coty Sensabaugh, now with the Giants, helped show him the ropes when he first entered the NFL. He said he has life-long friends he developed while with the Titans.

“I was there for three years, and met a lot of great guys, a lot of guys that helped me. Jason and Coty are guys I looked up to since I got into the league because they’ve done things the right way – they’ve put their careers first and made a lot of sacrifices and guys like that I need in my corner,’’ Wreh-Wilson said.

“My time in Tennessee, I enjoyed it. I gave everything I had. It wasn’t always pretty, it definitely wasn’t. I played through injuries, I went through a lot of changes. But it’s good to see that Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey are on a path, and they have something going there.”

Wreh-Wilson played in 34 games for the Titans over three seasons. He started 11 games in 2014, but he struggled with consistency and admittedly didn’t perform as well as he would’ve liked.

He was drafted to be a full-time starter, but his play kept it from happening. But he said he never lost confidence in himself.

“The media kept saying that, but I never lost confidence,’’ he said. “Just the fact people kept saying it, and it’s how it was perceived. So when people kept asking me that, I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t know what to do. It’s like they just threw that monkey on my back. Yeah, there were some plays that weren’t good … but I didn’t lose confidence.“

Ultimately, the Titans parted ways with Wreh-Wilson. The Falcons picked him up late in the season, and now he’s here for Super Bowl week. Wreh-Wilson has been inactive in recent weeks, and has played in just one game.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WRKN) – Amy Adams Strunk has been the Titans controlling owner for almost two years but that still is not good enough for the National Football League.

Wednesday at his annual Super Bowl press conference, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the Titans ownership structure still does not comply with league policy–despite the Titans claims that they are confident that they do.

Goodell said, “The fundamental aspect of our policy is to make sure that we have an individual who has the ultimate authority over that franchise and can make those decisions, including league level decisions as well as locally, and it’s clear. It’s clear to the ownership group and it’s clear to the members. So, that’s the issue the committee has been addressing. They’ve been in violation in the past, I’m hopefully we’re getting to the point where that’s going to be resolved once and for all.”

The league wants one member with a clear majority stake. In 2015, shortly after Adams Strunk took over, the team was hit with a six-figure fine for not being in compliance.

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Former NFL great Andre Johnson discusses his decision to retire, and his time with the Titans in 2016.

HOUSTON — Andre Johnson enjoyed his time with the Titans.

His entire NFL playing career was a blast, he said.

But when the receiver left the Titans in October and headed toward retirement, he knew it was time. Johnson said so from here Wednesday, from Super Bowl LI Radio Row.

“When you play the game for a very long time, it is kind of hard just to walk away from it, but at the same time, you know when it is time,’’ Johnson told Titans Online. “I knew it was time for me to leave, and I went and talked to coach (Mike) Mularkey and he asked me if there was anything he could do to change my mind.

“I just knew I was done, and he told me when he looked at me he could tell I had made up my mind and there was nothing he could do to change it. I felt like I would give someone else a chance to go out and show their talent. I knew mentally, I wasn’t in it no more.”

Back in October, Johnson informed the Titans of his plans to retire from the NFL after 14 NFL seasons.

After practice, players gathered inside the locker room to Facetime with Johnson. Johnson didn’t speak publicly about the decision at the time.

“I enjoyed my time there in Tennessee. It was fun, man. I enjoyed every moment of it,’’ Johnson said. “The Titans are a very good football team, and I knew it then. I am not surprised the way the team turned around the season and the way they played. I knew there was a lot of talent there, and I am looking forward to what’s ahead for them.”

Johnson said he’s a big fan of quarterback Marcus Mariota.

“He’s great,’’ Johnson said. “You could tell as the season went along he got very comfortable, and his play showed it. I think the sky is the limit for him.”

Johnson joined the Titans on July 30 and played in eight games for the team in 2016. He scored the game-winning touchdown in the team’s 16-15 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 2, and had nine catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in eight games.

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arc Mariani did an admirable job in 2016, but it’s time for the Tennessee Titans to find a more dynamic kick and punt returner for 2017.

I hate having to write this article, mainly because Marc Mariani has been a great Titan for many years. His first two years in Tennessee were a godsend. The Tennessee Titans finally had a return man that made smart decisions and could rip off big gains on a consistent basis. Back in 2010, Mariani averaged 25.5 yards per kick return and 12.2 per punt return, while adding a kick and punt return touchdown a piece. In 2011, he averaged 23.8 yards per kick return and 10.7 per punt return, with  one punt return touchdown.

But in the preseason of the 2012 year, Mariani suffered a gruesome leg injury that resulted in the end of his time with the Titans and a layoff from NFL football until 2014. He joined the Chicago Bears that year and spent a couple of seasons in the Windy City. His time there was short, lasting just 22 games, and he failed to make much of an impact for the team outside of some good kick returns.

After being released before the start of the 2016 season, the Titans scooped him up to be their main returner. The Titans were coming off a season in which they experimented with the likes of Dexter McCluster, Bishop Sankey, Harry Douglas, Tre McBride, and even some Perrish Cox on kick and punt returns. Needless to say, the Titans were one of the worst return teams in the league that year. Those faces, and a lone Antonio Andrews kick return, amassed just a 20.6 yard average on kick returns and 8.1 on punt returns. Well below the league average.

The signing of Mariani wasn’t much of a surprise, as the Titans didn’t have a clear frontrunner in the returner battle. They gave McBride and rookies Kalan Reed and Kevin Byard chances to earn their returning stripes in the preseason, but they failed to make a positive impression. So in came the Montana man, hoping to recreate the magic of his first two years with the Titans. Unfortunately, the Titans’ entire special teams unit was abysmal all year. And Mariani didn’t do much to change that fact.

Mariani 8.1 yards per return (sound familiar?) and 21.5 yards per kick return. He didn’t return any for a touchdown, and his longest punt and kick returns were just 18 and 37 yards, respectively. The lack of a touchdown prolonged a touchdown drought that extends back to the 2012 season, where Darius Reynaud returned two punts and one kickoff for a touchdown. Tommie Campbell also returned a punt for a touchdown that year. That’s four years since the Titans have produced a big play for six in the return game.

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Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo balances football, and family, to reach Pro Bowl success.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A young Brian Orakpo made it to the Pro Bowl during his first year in the NFL. He was with the Redskins back then, and just 23 years old at the time.

Surrounded by some of the NFL’s superstars, he had bright eyes. And he had fun.

“It was cool,” Orakpo recalled this week. “It was definitely more of a party, hangout scene back then.”

Fast-forward from 2009 to today. Now in his eighth NFL season, and his second with the Titans, Orakpo is a full-fledged family man. He has a wife and two young kids, and a greater perspective on life, his family, and his career.

And that’s why here, the land of theme parks and Disney characters, is a perfect location for his fourth Pro Bowl trip. It came after arguably the best season of his career, when the outside linebacker finished with 10.5 sacks, and a career-high 49 quarterback pressures.

“It is definitely cool to be back at the Pro Bowl, a great experience to be around all the guys,’’ Orakpo said. “Now that I have a family, it is definitely more family-oriented, and having fun with my kids.

“But this is what it is all about. I love it. It is very special. I am so happy my family, my son and daughter, can experience this, especially being in Disney World. And I want to show my son that by me being here, hard work really pays off. I want both him and my daughter to see that.”

Orakpo’s wife, Bitura, has been with him from the start. The two met during his redshirt freshman year the University of Texas, and married in 2010. They have a son, six-year-old Brian Jr., and a daughter, three-year-old Brianna.

And as a family, they’ve soaked up the fun.

The Orakpos went to a party at Universal Studios on Thursday night, and on Friday they hit the Magic Kingdom, the girls decked out in Mickey ears. Orakpo brought a bunch of his family to town. The group includes his mother, brother, nephews and a bunch of friends, including former Titans and University of Texas teammate Michael Griffin.

Griffin has seen Orakpo evolve as a player, and a father.

“I have pretty much known both of them since they were in college, and he is very good with his kids and he has a very supportive wife,’’ Griffin said of Orakpo. “They work hand in hand together, with their two young ones. Brian, he is doing a great job with everything he does. He is great on the field and off the field, and you aren’t ever going the separate him from his family. That is No.1 for him.

“Being a professional athlete and being a father, it can be a tough balance during the season. You have to be a good father as well as being a good football player and he is able to do both.”

Bitura Orakpo, known by friends as “Tura,” said her husband has done a good job balancing the rigors of the NFL, and his family.

He leaves football at home, he said. They don’t talk football when he walks in the door, she said. Well, at least he doesn’t bring it up.

“He has gotten a lot better,’’ Bitura Orakpo said. “When he gets home we don’t talk shop. Probably the only time we talk shop is when we are in the bed watching film, or me telling him on Sundays I noticed him play a certain way. In the nicest way possible, I might say, “You didn’t get off that block enough. Were you tired?” I try and be nice. We have those conversations because I have seen him progress from his freshman year in college to now.”

Brian Orakpo said it’s imperative for players to separate football and family, and to find time to make both work. Brian Jr. has made several trips to the Titans locker room in Nashville. He’s old enough where he can now recognize the players, Bitura said, and he loves it.

“When I am on the field and at the facility, I work extremely hard at my craft,’’ Orakpo said. “When I come home, I try and leave football at the facility and spend time with my kids. That is the only way to stay sane in what we do. It is definitely hard, and it takes experience. You don’t want to overexert yourself with the game we play, our job, and take it out on the ones that love you and show you support. You have to spend time with them. And when you get to the facility, it time to go.”

In Tennessee, Orakpo has been just what the Titans had in mind when they signed him prior to the 2015 season. In two seasons, he’s racked up 17.5 sacks while registering 86 quarterback pressures.

He’s been a tone-setter on a defense that generated 40 sacks as a team in 2016.

“He is your consummate professional,’’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said of Orakpo. “He is a coach’s dream in how he sets example for young guys coming in.

“As a player, he has everything. He can play the run, has great quickness, size and speed. Plus, he has a competitive nature that allows him to compete at a high level through the fourth quarter. He attacks any time he is out there. Any coach would love to have a guy like that on a team.”

Titans general manager Jon Robinson agreed with LeBeau’s assessment.

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The Tennessee Titans are clearly a team on the rise in the AFC.

ESPN thinks the Tennessee Titans could be a Super Bowl caliber team in 2017. The Titans’ strong offensive line, young quarterback, strong running game, and effective pass rushers are all used as examples of Tennessee’s potential to go all the way next season.

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The Kankakee area’s first arena football team will make its debut this weekend.

The Tri-Town Titans, the newest member of the eight-team Midwest Professional Indoor Football league, will host the Midway Marauders at 8 p.m. Saturday for a preseason contest at Legends Sportsplex in Bourbonnais.

It’s a moment head coach Darin Keith has been anticipating since accepting the job.

“It’s something the community needs” the 47-year-old Bradley resident said. “It’s good fun. We’re at the time where the college football and the NFL are winding down. High school football is done. And baseball hasn’t started yet. You can’t get away from the fact that this is an exciting game.”

Unlike traditional 11-man football, arena football utilizes three fewer players and cuts the field in half to 50 yards. It creates a chaotic often high-scoring affair.

For Dougie Willingham, a 2009 graduate of Kankakee High School, it’s a game that he’s excited to share with his hometown after spending two years playing arena football with the Windy City Ravens in Chicago.

“It’s where I was born and raised,” said Willingham, who was the starting tight end when Kankakee reached the state semifinals in 2008. “There haven’t been many events like this in Kankakee. Most of the people here haven’t seen arena football unless it was on TV.

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Of the 10 players that ended the 2016 season on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad, eight were signed to Reserve/Future contracts by the team on Monday. Defensive end Caushaud Lyons was one of the two practice squad players not signed by the Steelers to future contracts on Monday and on Tuesday he signed one with the Tennessee Titans.

Lyons not being signed by the Steelers is not overly surprising and especially being as the team chose to promote fellow defensive end Johnny Maxey to the 53-man roster over him late in the regular season.

The Steelers originally claimed Lyons off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just prior to the start of the 2015 regular season. After spending the first three weeks of that season on the Steelers 53-man roster, Lyons was waived and ultimately signed to the practice squad where he remained the rest of the year.

Lyons was back with the Steelers in 2016 after signing a futures contract in January and after failing to make the final 53-man roster out of training camp he once again found himself back on the 10-man practice squad.

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TitansOnline.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt offers three quick hits from Titans GM Jon Robinson at the Senior Bowl.

MOBILE, Ala. — We’re in between practices here at the Senior Bowl.

Titans general manager Jon Robinson just addressed questions while standing on the fence line at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, site of this weekend’s game.

Three quick hits from today:

One year later

This time last year, Robinson could hardly make it up the stairs or down a hallway without being stopped.

His friends in scouting departments and personnel departments across the NFL wanted to congratulate him for getting the GM’s job with the Titans. In Year Two, Robinson has settled in.

“I’d say last year was a little bit of a whirlwind,’’ Robinson said. “Old faces that I was on the road with for so many years, and the congratulatory handshakes. They were appreciative of the process and how it unfolded for an area scout to be able to climb his way up.

“This year, our scouts are more into the process as well. They understand the grading scale and they know what we are looking for in players so it is a little less hectic.”

The Titans went 9-7 in 2016 following an offseason when Robinson made plenty of big acquisitions, and trades.

He’s getting congratulated, but for a different reason.

“We are certainly appreciative of that, and I think we took some steps to get things headed in the right direction, although we came up short,’’ Robinson said. “But we’re on to 2017 and onto the roster building stage of the NFL season.

“We have free agency right around the corner and we are evaluating the college players, so we’ll stick to the process and try and continue to build the team.”

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