EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Credit return man Ryan Mouton with fielding all the questions people had for him after his two muffs in Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the New York Jets.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the Tennessee Titans rookie fielded well in the game, as his two fumbles gave the Jets possession at the Titans’ 19-yard line in the first quarter and the 23-yard line in the third period. The opportunistic Jets cashed in the miscues for 14 points on the way to the victory.
When it was over, Mouton spoke of his problems catching the football.
“I just have to practice catching more and securing the ball more,” Mouton, a third-round pick from Hawaii, said. “After the game I had guys like Keith [Bulluck] and Griff [Michael Griffin] telling me, ‘Don’t get down on yourself,’ and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to do that. When you get drafted, you’ve got to come in here and play ball. When you’ve got a chance to make a play, you’ve got to make a play,” Mouton said.
Jason Trusnik forced and recovered the first of Mouton’s miscues, a fumbled kickoff, at the 19-yard line for the Jets, who cashed in for a first-quarter touchdown in the heels of an opening score.
The second proved to be much costly for the Titans, who had taken a 17-14 lead and were seemingly in control with a defense that had settled down after its early issues.
The fumbled punt, recovered by Larry Izzo, put the Jets in business at the Tennessee 23, and Mark Sanchez cashed in with a go-ahead 6-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery.
The Titans never recovered.
When it was over, the frustration of the loss was evident and Mouton’s problems were front and center.
Asked if the fumbles could be chalked up to rookie mistakes, running back LenDale White took issue with that.
“You ain’t no rookie. You’re in the NFL, man. When you play Pop Warner Football, it might be OK to drop the football right there, maybe in high school. In college you start to learn that you’ve got to hold on to the ball,” White said. “In the NFL, there ain’t no such thing as no rookie. You’re out there to make plays.
"I’m not taking no shots. I’m not saying that he lost the game. I’m not saying any of that, but you asked me if he’s a rookie. Kenny Britt’s a rookie too. Is he making plays? All right. You ain’t no rookie, man. Once we draft you and you’re on this team, you make plays. We signed you to make plays. If you’re out there on the field, make the play. If you don’t want to make it, tell them to take you off.”
White insisted that he wasn’t pointing fingers, and said he made plenty of mistakes himself.
“We’re a team. I’m looking at myself. I’m looking at me,” he said. “You can’t look at nobody. Anybody on this team wants to point the finger at somebody, then they’re obviously not being a man, because everybody on this team today made a mistake.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who made the decision at the end of preseason to release return man Mark Jones, took the blame as well.
“Ryan’s going to be a good player for us, but it’s my responsibility to get somebody in there that can make those plays,” Fisher said.