The fact that William Hayes got the start on Sunday night against Indianapolis came as a bit of a surprise to him.
Hayes had gotten the first-team reps in Friday’s practice in place of Jevon Kearse, who went AWOL after being deactivated, but said the news that he was starting still stunned him somewhat.
“I had no idea. It kind of struck me when we were at practice I started getting first team reps,” Hayes said. “I didn’t understand that, and then we got to the game, and it just started becoming more surreal.”
Hayes started at left defensive end and split time with Dave Ball against the Colts, but said even that took some getting used to.
“I’m more used to going in there second when we’re running our plays, or whatever, and I was just sitting over there talking and forgetting that Jevon ain’t here, and I’m actually the guy coming in. It was quite interesting,” Hayes said.
Hayes, a fourth-round pick in 2008 from Division II Winston-Salem State, has been making strides this season and was finally ready for a starting role.
“I think when they watched him on film and saw him in college, he did a lot of things off instinct and made a lot of plays off instincts,” right defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. “When William escapes a block, it’s usually to the side of the ball. He’s just got a good feel for playing football. Now that he knows the system, he can just go out there and react to things.”
Hayes agrees with that assessment of his improvement between last year and now.
“It’s not even close. I’m playing a lot better, getting more pressure on the quarterback,” Hayes said. “I’m using a lot more technique this year, rather than just trying to overpower everybody.”
The Titans secondary was plenty thin Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Cortland Finnegan did only individual work as he tries to make his way back from hamstring injury, while safety Michael Griffin sat out with a neck stinger from Sunday’s game and the aftereffects of his collision with Craig Stevens on the opening kickoff.
“It was that, and I caught a little bit of a stinger later in the game,” Griffin said. “I’m just a little bit nicked up.”
Nick Harper, of course, is already out with a broken forearm, and the Titans were thin enough that Vincent Fuller, who also is out with a broken forearm, did some scout team work to help out.
Others who did not practice included guard Leroy Harris (concussion), guard Jake Scott (illness) and tight end Craig Stevens, whom Jeff Fisher indicated was unlikely to play following the concussion he suffered in Sunday night’s game on the collision with Griffin.
Linebackers Stanford Keglar (hamstring) and Colin Allred (shoulder) were limited, while defensive tackle Jason Jones (shoulder) was a full participant.
Despite their 0-5 record, actor Luke Perry stopped by and observed practice on Wednesday.
Perry, best known for his role on the original Beverly Hills 90210 series,
“I was in town presenting an award for the International Entertainment Buyers, and one of the players was nice enough to sign a couple of jerseys for my kids, so I picked them up and had a look,” Perry said of his being at Baptist Sports Park.
Titans running backs Chris Johnson and LenDale White stopped to converse with Perry for a bit after being introduced to him.