Eight-man rotation is no sweat for Tennessee's defensive front

Monday, October 25, 2010 at 10:45pm

Four plays is not a long time for a player to give maximum effort. Of course, the flip side is that four plays don’t provide a lot of time for players to catch their breath, either.

Tennessee Titans defensive linemen know that when they come to the sideline they won’t be there long. Thus, it’s not a time for them to kick back on the bench and relax.

“It will take one or two but the four don’t hurt — four plays off doesn’t hurt,” defensive tackle Jovan Haye said. “The way we’re playing right now … one of the main reasons why is guys are not tired out there.”

Players say a drink of water and a few deep breaths are all they need to get their bodies ready to return. The rest of the time is devoted to keeping the mind sharp.

“The whole time, I know, when Dave [Ball] and I are out, we’re standing by each other and we’re watching the tackles, we’re watching the formation, we’re seeing what they’re doing,” defensive end Jason Babin said. “We’re trying to still play the game mentally so when we go back in you don’t lose any rhythm.”

The whole operation gives new meaning to the term “no sweat.”

“The first part of the game it’s like, ‘Golly, am I even sweating?’ ” Babin said. “That’s OK. We’re not going to complain about that.”

The key to maintaining a rotation of two four-man units, as the Titans do, is that all eight players have to
be productive.

In this case, it’s more than eight. Defensive end William Hayes missed the first two games with an injury but returned when Jacob Ford was forced to sit out the next two with an injury of his own. Ford came back just when Derrick Morgan sustained a season-ending injury.

“The injury situation is just something you can’t count on,” defensive line coach Jim Washburn said. “We were real fortunate when Derrick Morgan went down that we still had four ends to rotate.”

Of course, they also have the same number of tackles to rotate.

“I’ve never been around a more talented group, honestly,” Haye said.