After one game, there is no verdict on whether the Tennessee Titans’ decision to claim Randy Moss on waivers was worthwhile.
Regardless of how that turns out, it seems certain that their efforts to improve their team through waivers this season will not have been in vain.
It was not significant news when it happened, but just prior to the start of the regular season the Titans added two players, Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw, in the same manner they acquired Moss.
Technically linebackers, the two primarily were added to enhance the performance of the Tennessee’s special teams. For the most, they’ve done that.
The Titans entered this week among the NFL’s top 10 in three of the four primary special teams statistical categories – punt return average, kickoff return average and punt return average allowed. In the fourth category, kickoff return average allowed, they were dead last out of the league’s 32 teams.
Last season they finished 25th or worse in three of those areas. Even the one at which they excelled, punt coverage (they finished eighth), has seen improvement this season (currently fifth).
“They told us they brought us in here to help on special teams,” Bailey, who plays on all four units, said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. I think we’ve been doing good so far this year. Sometimes (the other teams) get a play. Sometimes you make a play.”
Bailey and Shaw currently share the team lead in special teams tackles with 11 each. That’s already more than all but three Tennessee players had last season, when the Titans’ special teams units – particularly the coverage teams – struggled.
It’s familiar territory for the pair.
Shaw, a three-year veteran, led Chicago in special teams tackles last season when he set a franchise record with 30. Shaw, who spent the previous two seasons with Pittsburgh, has averaged more than one special teams tackle per game for his career.
There have been two games when each has made more than one stop on the coverage units.
“When we acquired (Shaw) and (Bailey) that really helped us from a coverage standpoint and a return standpoint,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “At that point in the season we didn’t have to insert young players that had not done it before. We became a veteran group.
“… We can still get better. … We’re doing some good things, we’re kicking and punting well, and covering well but there is always room for improvement.”
Now, if Moss can do the same for the offense … .
• According to multiple reports, the Titans worked out veteran running back Larry Johnson on Tuesday.
Johnson, a former first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, played two games for Washington this season before being released.
In seven-plus seasons with three different teams he has rushed for more than 6,000 yards with 55 touchdowns. At 6-foot-1, 228 pounds he is much larger than the two running backs currently on the Tennessee roster.
Johnson has been to the Pro Bowl twice and was an All-Pro once.
• The Titans swapped tight ends on their practice squad when they added Riar Greer and dropped Joel Gamble. Greer, an undrafted rookie out of the University of Colorado, spent time earlier this season on the Denver Broncos’ practice squad.