Griffin’s role on defense likely to expand

Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 1:22am

First-round pick Michael Griffin has been impressive with his work on special teams for the Tennessee Titans, as his six tackles last Sunday attest.

Griffin’s work there has apparently paid off enough that the rookie defensive back is now ready to assume a bigger role in the Tennessee Titans’ defensive scheme.

“We’ve been getting Griff involved in some packages, and we’re going to continue to do so,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday. “His production has been on special teams, and we’re going to find a way to get him on the field defensively.”

Fisher wouldn’t define exactly what Griffin’s role would be, only to say that, “that he’s going to be involved more so in the defense than he has been to this point.”

Griffin played free safety at the University of Texas, but was moved by the Titans to cornerback once he was drafted by the team in April. He has served as the team’s dime cornerback this season and, according to Fisher, has worked at safety during practice and in certain game packages.

The Titans have typically tried to avoid inserting rookies into the starting lineup immediately over the years, although a few rookies such as Jevon Kearse, Eddie George, Tank Williams and Michael Roos have started from day one.

“If you look back, we didn’t start Pac [Pacman Jones], we didn’t start Vince [Young],” Fisher said. “We don’t typically start young players right off the bat, unless there’s a need. Mike Roos might be the exception here. They learn through their experiences and by watching and practicing, and they eventually get to the point where they are deserving of more playing time.”

Strong safety Chris Hope said Griffin has shown himself to be a quick study, in case the Titans want him to shift positions.

“Mike, coming from the University of Texas and playing a high level of football like he played in college, learned to play corner,” Hope said. “Some guys get drafted to play corner and can’t play corner. That just tells you how fast he learns.”

Safety Calvin Lowry, who declined comment Wednesday when approached by reporters, has been a part of two deep touchdown passes against the Titans in the past two games.

HONORS FOR BIRONAS: Rob Bironas planned to keep the record-setting ball from his eighth field goal in Sunday’s 38-36 victory over Houston. The kick came as time expired, giving the Titans the win, but Bironas won’t get to keep the ball. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, called and has asked for the ball to be part of its exhibit.

As a consolation, Bironas was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his 8-for-8 effort.

JONES MENDING: Receiver Brandon Jones ran on Wednesday and says he is getting better, but did not commit to being able to play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders just yet.

“That’s up to the coaches. Today was my first day running. It feels pretty good. It doesn’t feel exactly the same, but it feels pretty good. They’ve got to make that decision for me,” Jones said.

Jones injured his right knee, the same knee he had surgery on his rookie year.

“It was a meniscus, some cartilage and a little piece of bone that had chipped off in there. There were a couple of things in there that they had to clean up,” Jones said. “It didn’t really scare me, because I knew I had some things in there that needed to be cleaned out, some things that were bothering me. It was more of a cleaning process, so I was happy for them to fix it.”

OTHER INJURIES: Neither Chris Davis nor Chris Brown practiced Wednesday with ankle injuries, while defensive tackle Corey Simon was excused for personal reasons and guard Benji Olson was given his usual Wednesday practice off.

Davis and Jones are the Titans’ top two punt returners, and Fisher indicated if neither is available Sunday that Cortland Finnegan would get the nod.

RAISING CAIN: The Titans have added Jeremy Cain to their practice squad. Cain, formerly with the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles, tried out on Tuesday and was added to the practice roster. The third-year pro can play both fullback and linebacker.

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