Will Michael Griffin win a starting cornerback role with the Tennessee Titans as a rookie?
No one is saying for certain with the preseason finale at Green Bay still ahead on Thursday, but Griffin’s transition from college safety to NFL cornerback appears to be a fairly seamless one.
Despite giving up a 64-yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans in Buffalo Friday night, the Griffin acquitted himself well at cornerback in his first start and could be getting closer to becoming a starter as a rookie.
“He’s done a lot of good things,” defensive backs coach Chuck Cecil said. “He’s worked hard at it, and he’s doing the things that we’re asking. That’s all we can ask of him right now.”
Cecil said Griffin just needs to continue progressing in the preseason, though his inexperience shows through occasionally.
“He has to make the plays that he’s supposed to make, play the deep balls and really keep doing the things that he’s been doing, because he’s done a lot of really good things,” Cecil said. “He’s getting his hands on guys outside and making plays. He’s around the ball.
“There’s just a few plays here and there where his inexperience shows. That deep ball in the game should be a relatively easy play for him to make. And in this league, that’s the play you have to make if you’re going to play cornerback in the NFL.”
Griffin said he felt comfortable working with the first unit, and having veterans in Nick Harper, Lamont Thompson and Donnie Nickey (who filled in for Chris Hope) at the other spots helped to relax him and make his job easier on Friday night.
“It’s the people around me,” Griffin said. “They told me I was going to start and all week everybody was just helping me out with different things. When I was out there on the field, everybody was reminding each other and everybody was talking. The more everybody was talking the more relaxed I could be, because we were all on the same team. It was a relaxed setting.”
Cecil said the Titans wanted to get Griffin in as good a situation as possible to evaluate him.
“That’s why we did it, just to try and give him the best opportunity to be out there with the starting unit,” Cecil said. “The communication is a lot of times a little crisper, and we wanted to give him the opportunity to go out and play and not really worry about a whole lot of things other than his assignment at hand.”
Griffin was credited with five solo tackles and a forced fumble in the game. Harper said Griffin looks plenty comfortable at cornerback already.
“Just looking at the guy and knowing he used to be a safety, you really can’t tell,” Harper said. “To me it looks like he’s been playing corner his whole life. He’s got good hips, good feet, he’s fast and he’s got good feet. He can press, and he can make a play on the ball.”
Another strong suit for Griffin is that the Titans want improve their run-stuffing from the edges, something that has always been part of Harper’s game. The veteran sees the same type of ability from the rookie.
“From my understanding, that’s one of the things that they’re stressing here,” Harper said. “They need corners that can come up and tackle. I’ve never had that problem coming up in run support, and with him with his size and having played safety, he loves to hit. Just plug him in. He fits the scheme and it’s perfect for him.”
SEVEN RELEASED: The Tennessee Titans waived seven players on Sunday moving within one of Tuesday’s 75-player limit.
The seven players waived on Sunday included receiver Jonathan Orr, a sixth-round draft choice last season. Others to be let go were all undrafted free agents that included defensive tackle Quartez Vickerson, safety Brandon Sharp, defensive end Jermaine McElveen, punter Glenn Pakulak, tight end Andy Thorn and offensive lineman Marques Ogden.
The Titans have to release one more player before Tuesday and have final cuts due by Saturday to get down to their 53-man limit.
INJURIES: Cornerback Reynaldo Hill (groin) returned to the practice field Sunday and should see some action this Thursday against Green Bay.
Ben Troupe (foot) did some walk-through work but did not take part in team drills.
Others who did not practice on Sunday included Michael Waddell (knee), Tony Brown (leg) and LeVar Woods (thigh bruise).