Michael Griffin is now six starts into his NFL career as the Tennessee Titans’ free safety.
And while Griffin is making consistent progress at the position, no one is ready to say that he is a finished product and past making rookie mistakes.
After Wednesday’s practice, Griffin stayed after to work on his technique with defensive backs coach Chuck Cecil and safeties coach Marcus Robertson.
“There is still a comfort level where I don’t think he’s as comfortable as he’s going to be,” Cecil said. “What generally happens in that case is it slows you down just a hair. He’s playing well right now, but we kind of expect him and plan on him playing even better.”
Griffin, the Titans’ first-round pick last April, recorded his first pro interception at the end of last Sunday’s 28-20 victory over the Houston Texans.
That pickoff not only sealed the game for Tennessee, but also shows that Griffin is beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.
“I think there are a lot of things he can do. He’s a special talent, and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him by far,” Cecil said.
Griffin was happy to have made a play, but won’t rest on any accomplishments.
“You’re only as good as your last play, and my last play was in interception, but we’ve still got four more games,” he said.
Griffin replaced Calvin Lowry in the starting lineup after the Titans’ loss at Tampa Bay and has 30 total tackles, including 22 solo stops. He says he is beginning to get comfortable in his new (old?) role.
“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable, but there’s still a long way to go,” Griffin said. “There’s still mistakes here and there. I need to read a little quicker in there, but it’s getting there. I’m just going out there and trying not to do too much, but trying not to make any mistakes.”
Griffin got a shot of confidence with his interception, something that Cecil told him during the week that would come in the game on Sunday.
“We talked about it in the room, and he made a couple of nice plays in practice, so I kind of joked with him and said that this was the week he was going to come through, and I’m kind of glad that it came to fruition,” Cecil said.
Added Griffin, “He told me something different, but I can’t say it on the record. It did come true, so I have to thank him for that.”
Griffin’s move back to his natural position at free safety came after a stint of him spending time at cornerback during offseason work, training camp and preseason and on into the regular season before being shifted after the Bucs game.
Cecil, however, said the time at cornerback could be a plus for Griffin, rather than a detriment.
“I think it’s been a beneficial experience for him, because he understands all the problems that those guys have on the outside part of the field,” Cecil said. “It gives him a real good idea as far as the big picture and how everything ties in and fits together.”
Griffin has no regrets either that the shift to safety didn’t come sooner.
“At the beginning of the season, two-a-days, you had a lot of guys playing well, and you never knew if I was going to corner or going to safety. It was just something that happened that you’ve got to live with. You can’t go back in the past,” Griffin said.
Likewise, by making the move, the Titans are hopeful they have solved the free safety for the next half dozen or so years.
“That’s the plan. That’s why we took him in the first round,” Cecil said. “His talent combined with his work ethic and his mental make-up and his football smarts, I don’t see any reason for him not to be very successful for a lot of years.”