New contract keeps Titans' special teams duo intact

Monday, April 2, 2012 at 2:04pm

The Tennessee Titans’ ability to cover kicks improved when Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw were added just before the start of the 2010 season.

Monday, Shaw re-signed with the Titans, which ought to mean things are not going to get any worse in that regard.

That multi-year deal, announced by the team, guaranteed that the team’s leaders in special teams tackles each of the last two seasons would return for 2012 and beyond.

Bailey re-signed three weeks earlier. Both were unrestricted free agents when the NFL’s new league year commenced on March 13. Each came to Tennessee as a waiver claim on Sept. 5, 2010.

Shaw led Tennessee with 20 special teams tackles (one more than Bailey) in 2010. Last season, he and Bailey tied for the team lead in that regard with 15 apiece.

Both also blocked a punt last fall. Shaw blocked one at Pittsburgh on Oct. 9 and Bailey got one, which was recovered for a touchdown, three weeks later at home against Indianapolis.

Before that, the franchise had two blocked punts in the previous five seasons combined.

The Titans finished among the league’s top 10 in average yards allowed on both punt returns (fourth) and kickoff returns (eighth) in 2012.

The last time that happened was 2003. Tennessee went 12-4 that season and recorded its most recent playoff victory, a 20-17 win at Baltimore in the wild card round.

The Titans have finished among the top eight in average punt returns allowed five times in the last eight seasons, including each of the past three. Their league rank in kickoff return average allowed last season was their best since they were ninth in 2004.

Shaw, originally a fifth-round pick by Carolina (164th overall) in 2007, also played at linebacker on defense occasionally in the past two seasons and recorded 13 tackles as a member of the defense.

He played for three different franchises — Carolina, Jacksonville and Houston — before the Titans claimed him.