Role players show their value for Titans

Monday, November 17, 2008 at 7:23pm
Chris Carr has made a large impact on the 2008 Titans, one of several role players contributing ot the team's success. File

Throughout their 10-0 start, the Tennessee Titans have touted that they are all about team.

Perhaps nowhere does that team concept shine more brightly than in the ability of unknowns and role players to step in and fill the voids when the starters have gone down.

When Pro Bowl defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch went out with a groin injury against Baltimore, the Titans asked two unheralded players in Dave Ball and Jacob Ford to step in and pick up the slack.

Neither had had a sack in his pro career to that point. Just over a month later, they have 7.5 sacks between them with each recording a sack of Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard.

Nowhere was the role of players stepping up on display more Sunday than in the play of Chris Carr. Carr, who came to the Titans as a restricted free agent from Oakland, was signed to shore up the punt and kickoff return duties. He has done that, but in Sunday’s 24-14 win, he did much more — coming in after Eric King — filling in for an injured Nick Harper — suffered a broken forearm.

All Carr did was play 54 snaps at left cornerback with a pair of pass breakups and a key interception that led to Tennessee’s final touchdown. And he still managed to perform his full complement of special teams duties as well, including an open-field tackle on a kickoff in the third quarter.

“I knew special teams was going to be my niche on this team, but I knew my capabilities, and if I got into a game [on defense], it wasn’t going to be a surprise,” Carr said. “I was like, ‘OK, this is my time and I’m going to have to go in and make some plays for us to win,’ and fortunately I did.”

Coming in and contributing in a pinch has become old hat for Ball, who was out of the NFL altogether last year, but has had a sack three weeks in a row and is tied for second on the team with 3.5 sacks. Probably no player on the Titans roster has a better appreciation for being 10-0 than him.

“I couldn’t have [walked into a better situation]. And this was like my only situation I could have walked in to. So it’s funny how stuff happens,” said Ball, noting that no other teams wanted to sign him this offseason.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said he could see in training camp that the team was developing role players for valued depth when the inevitable injuries come in an NFL season.

“The staff has done a great job developing players,” Fisher said. “We expected to see it happen. It’s not a surprise to us that Jacob Ford and David Ball, and obviously the rookies, but those two in particular are playing well or filling in.

“We’ve been fortunate from that standpoint. That was an exceptional effort by Chris with the load that we continued to place on him throughout the game. It’s one thing to play corner in the National Football League, but it’s another to continue with your special teams responsibilities, and that was an exceptional effort.”

Tony Brown, now a starter at defensive tackle but once a journeyman and role player himself, appreciates the contributions of the back end of the roster.

“Those guys are on this team for a reason. People may not know them outside of this locker room and this organization, but every time their number has been called, they’ve done a great job,” Brown said. “It just goes to show that this organization is doing something right, because I’m one of those guys. I was one of those guys myself, and we have to show it every time.”

INJURIES: Fisher said the Titans would seek several opinions before determining whether or not to make a roster move with cornerback Eric King once he has surgery on his broken forearm. It is a re-fracture of the injury he suffered last year that landed him on injured reserve, and likely will take six weeks or so to heal.

“At this point, we’re not going to jump to conclusions and make a decision. We haven’t ruled Eric out [for the season],” Fisher said. “We’re going to evaluate the situation over the next couple of days, and we’ll see what we will do with it. There is a chance Eric could return. We just don’t know that. We’re waiting on several other opinions.”

If the Titans make a roster move, the most likely scenario is to pull seventh-round pick Cary Williams up from the practice squad.

Fisher also said the four players who were inactive because of injuries — Harper (ankle), Justin McCareins (concussion), Vanden Bosch (groin) and Jason Jones (foot) would have a chance to return and play this week against the New York Jets.

HEALTHY AGAIN: Receiver Justin Gage enjoyed the best day of his career with four catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Fisher said Gage is finally healthy after suffering an MCL sprain in his knee, and that is showed in his performance.

“The MCL is a difficult injury to overcome, specifically I think for the taller guys,” Fisher said. “He just didn’t have the stability even after coming back for a couple of weeks. But it’s there now. We see it on the practice field. He’s free of the brace. He concentration is back and he made the plays he needed to make.”’

MAN OF THE YEAR: Linebacker David Thornton was chosen as the Titans' Man of the Year on Monday for his charitable works in the community. He was one of eight finalists for the team award and now will compete with winners from the other 31 teams for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

“My motivation, first and foremost, from what I do in the community stems from my personal relationship with the Lord,” Thornton said. “Me loving God is part of me loving others and finding ways to go out and make a difference. That’s a big part of why I do what I do. I was raised in a Christian home. My mother and father did a tremendous job of raising me and my brothers to be men of integrity, men of character and men of passion.”

He said cherishes the stage he has an athlete to help others less fortunate.

“As professional athletes, we all have a platform that we’ve been blessed with that we can go out and get the attention of children and maybe some adults that most people maybe can’t do. I don’t take that platform lightly,” Thornton said.

Filed under: Sports
By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Albert Haynesworth has proven himself time and time again. The titans always have a problem paying "CERTAIN KINDS OF PLAYERS" I wonder why? After this season I hope Albert goes to a team that respects him as a man. The other “CERTAIN KIND OF PLAYERS" better wake up. Unless you are one of the "good old boys" you are not a first class citizen.Kerry Michael Collins has done a GREAT JOB. Titans will not ask him to prove he can do it (2) two years in a row. You can bet on that. Collins will not have any problem getting paid what is worth to the team.Vanden Bosch has been out 2 or 3 game and the Titans still win. Take away Albert (3) game and see what happens. What was I thinking we live in Tennessee?

By: Jokapsig on 12/31/69 at 6:00

blktenn- "After this season I hope Albert goes to a team that respects him like a man." Do you really think the Titans don't respect Albert for what he does on the field? The Titans will do their best in presenting Albert a package that keeps him here, hopefully when he retires. And why are you throwing the race card? I didn't vote for Obama, but that doesn't make me a racist. Does it?

By: Curreypowder on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"CERTAIN KINDS OF PLAYERS" like Eddie George and Steve McNair... or Keith Bulluck? Everyone knew that Albert was going to get the franchise tag because he had one year (a contract year) of solid play. His entire career he has been a guy who gave "spotty" effort to say the least. I definately think the Titans need to do everything they can to resign him... but don't be surprised if the Albert you see next year or the year after is closer to the Albert you saw two or three years ago rather than this year or last (regardless of what team he is on). Making him play in order to get paid is one of the reasons this team is performing so well on defense. And the guy is still making the most money in the league at his position this year... he's not exactly going to the poor house.

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00


By: RayRay on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Blktenn, not sure where your definition of racism came from, but I found this in a quick online dictionary search:"The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability"Sound like someone you maybe YOU?

By: RayRay on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Blktenn - you are correct. The Titans are clearly a racist organization. Where in this article was a deal with Haynesworth mentioned?While we're on that subject ask yourself these questions...Did they pay Steve McNair? Did they pay Eddie George? What percentage of the Titans roster is black? What percentage of the starting defense is black? Nevermind the answers to these questions, because they complete debunk your little theory. Honestly, playing the race card when you are so far off base only makes you look like a moron.The reality is that Haynesworth would be STUPID to sign a contract extension right now, even if the Titans offered. He is in line for a MAJOR payday, especially if the Titans' magical season continues and ends where we all hope it does - the Super Bowl. On the open market, I don't know if the Titans can compete for Albert's services. In hindsight, maybe it would have been better to lock him up after last season, but his history of injuries probably created some doubt as to durability. The Titans gambled and lost.Again, don't let the facts get in your way, bro. Keep on believing racism is responsible for everything you don't like in life!

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Now the percent of black players so high, ask yourself this. Who get the most of the credit for titans wins?

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00 Take a look at the map (click the red button on the right)

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Eddie was kicked out of tn as well.

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Look at vandy nixon starts they win. 6-0They other qb starts and 0-4.... ?? what is that ?

By: house_of_pain on 12/31/69 at 6:00

McNair was not allowed on the property because the Titans' insurance could not cover him anymore (he was not under contract).Eddie was released due to a decline in performance (even the Cowgirls didn't start him).The defense as a whole is getting most of the credit for the current winning streak.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

They locked McNair out for liability reasons and later Steve admitted he knew they were going to. He told Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean that Bus Cook told him that he was not going to be allowed to work out at the facility but told him to go there any way to stir things up. You think they did it because he is black? LMAO! They draft Steve McNair and then Vince Young to lead their team, yeah, that is racism. Sheesh!

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Can you think of any one else they locked out for "Liability" reasons. So as long as the boy can play "the titans will respect him" after he is done Oh well

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Name one white player the titans had or has a problem with, when it comes to money or contact....... nnoseworthy I see why !!!

By: nnoseworthy on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Yeah... they never let me come and work out, and I've been trying for years!

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

waiting !!! Google it (LOL)

By: nnoseworthy on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Hey! I'm ruthless off the line..I can't think of more than a couple players who there have been "issues" with.McNair went there to "stir things up"... great, his problem, not the Titans.Eddie wanted to be traded, his issue, not the Titans.Haynesworth stepped on a guys face. Go Titans!

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Jon Runyan, Billy Volek, Drew Bennett.

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Your brain power if frightening. Read the question. See what I mean?Name one white player the titans had or has a problem with, when it comes to money or contact.......

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Jon Runyan, Billy Volek, Drew Bennett. What did it take to fix there problems, taking the boss to lunch (LOL)

By: Curreypowder on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The NFL is a business... unfortunately that means when players are towards the end of their careers, it doesn't make sense to give them a big payday. McNair saved the Titans a lot of money by not keeping him... he had one 13-3 season with Baltimore in which he stilled missed several games, then played less than half of the next season before retiring. We actually attempted to resign Eddie at a reasonable rate (actually more than Dallas offered), but Eddie wanted a chance to start... We saw how that worked out. Nixon didn't play because he was hurt and could not throw the ball... he actually took himself out of the Auburn game because he couldn't play. Honestly, to say that we didn't sign Albert to a long term extension is one of the dumbest things I've heard. And to answer your question of who gets most of the credit when the Titans win... as far as players go, consistently Albert gets the most press.

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thes guys had no real problem getting paid with the titans.AN YOU KNOW IT !!!

By: nnoseworthy on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Volek didn't want to "compete" with KCollins for QB and asked to be traded.

By: JK049 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

wow... This is why ignorant morons shouldn't start comment threads... We just elected a black president, but this guy's mad at a football team... you need some perspective man.

By: Curreypowder on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You must not be familiar with the Titans history, as there was a huge money issue with Jon Runyan. And obviously Volek struck a nerve, as he is the only player that I am aware of that Fisher has publicly drug through the mud...

By: nnoseworthy on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Bottom line: the lowest paid player still makes more per year than 4 employees combined at the TN Dept. of Finance.I'm not going to worry about whiny millionaires.

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Curreypowder I respect your statement but it doesn't tell the whole story. Mcnair have is heart to the titans and was smacked in the face. Eddie did as well. Albert should go for the money that's all I have to say. Look at Big business in this country, do you this running things this way is right.... NOT right for the people you truly eatn the money !!!

By: Cowboy84 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Volek was traded to the Chargers and then the Titans signed Collins at the very end of training camp. It had nothing to do with Collins, everything to do with Fisher.

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

JK049 you are one to talk, you need to take care of you own issues !!!!

By: blktenn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Cowboy84 that is true..

By: wally on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Congrats to Chris Carr - Oakland probably wishes they had him back.

By: ycartrob on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I smell a troll. Ignore the troll and the troll goes away (eventually), it's that simple.

By: JK049 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"By: blktenn on 11/18/08 JK049 you are one to talk, you need to take care of you own issues !!!! "What does that even mean? LOLin regards to Football-Chris Carr WAS awesome Sunday. I was a little worried at first, but he got into a groove did great.

By: jlawrence007 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

blktenn:They either locked McNair out because of race....or the 50 MILLION DOLLARS they would be entitled to pay him if he got hurt, you idiot!How many white players have ever caused problems for any NFL organization (google it), and try to accurately interprete the answer. Statistics say that THESE TYPES OF PLAYERS don't stir up problems.

By: sandburn on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The Titans cannot negotiate with Haynesworth until the team's season is over -- and at this point, it appears that will be at least January.Here's a little history: Back in the day Bud Adams drafted (at that time the only?) the great black quarterback, Warren Moon. A lot of folks here recall the Titans halftime ceremony for him a couple of years back. And Mr. Adams drafted Steve McNair -- AHEAD OF KERRY COLLINS -- the year they came out.No one who knows their football would attempt to play the race card here -- the facts would get in the way.

By: FAMUAce on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I can understand some of blktenn's angst about how some of the players are treated here in Tennessee, but the Titans/Oilers organization is far from racist. Bud Adams is still the man who signed Warren Moon as a QB vs. the other teams who wanted him as a WR despite all of the passing records he set both in college and in the CFL. Bud also drafted McNair 3rd in the 1995 draft (ahead of Collins who was taken 5th) and made him the highest drafted Black QB in NFL history at the time. Yeah, the organization has done some wrong things (see Randall Godfrey), but for the most part they have been pretty fair when it comes to racial issues. Now to the article, Carr is a good player and so are the D Linemen. Both Reinfeldt AND Reese should be commended for the scouting and signing of guys like this. Plus, the coaching staff can coach their butts off!