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Jameis Winston throws 2 TDs as Tampa Bay beats Titans 30-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers certainly have had plenty of time to get used to the idea that Jameis Winston will miss the first three games of the season because of a suspension.

Watching the quarterback light up a defense in just a quarter doesn’t make it any easier.

Winston threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns after coming off the bench in the second quarter, and the Buccaneers beat the Tennessee Titans 30-14 Saturday night in the teams’ second exhibition game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) passes as offensive tackle Brad Seaton (60) blocks Tennessee Titans linebacker Harold Landry (58) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)

Ryan Fitzpatrick started for a second straight week as the Buccaneers (2-0) prepare the veteran to run the offense while Winston sits out for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after the NFL investigated an allegation Winston groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in March 2016.

“It is what it is,” Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said of Winston’s looming suspension. “I mean, we’re over that. We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got three good quarterbacks.”

Fitzpatrick helped the Bucs hold the ball for 9 minutes of the first quarter, but they settled for a field goal as the quarterback was 5 of 13 for 46 yards passing.

Then Winston completed eight of his first nine passes and left with a 151.4 passer rating. He threw for big chunks, hitting Mike Evans for 38 yards and then DeSean Jackson on a 54-yarder . Winston found Chris Godwin in a pack of Titans in the end zone for an 8-yard TD and connected with Justin Watson for a 21-yard TD that gave the Bucs a 20-7 halftime lead.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) catches a touchdown pass in front of Tennessee Titans defenders Kendrick Lewis and Kenneth Durden (38) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

“That second quarter, to have Jameis throw for 200-whatever yards in one quarter with a couple touchdowns, was pretty fun to watch,” Fitzpatrick said.

Winston was just happy to get some work with the first-team offense, even if his first TD pass went into a crowd of defenders. He credited Godwin with getting open, so he threw it up and gave the receiver a chance.

“In film, I’m probably going to get yelled at,” Winston said.

Marcus Mariota left before Winston entered the game featuring the top two draft picks of 2015. Mariota played two series in the first quarter, and he was 4 of 7 for 80 yards with a 47-yard TD to Taywan Taylor off a screen pass.

First-year coach Mike Vrabel continues looking for his first preseason victory with the Titans (0-2).

TAYLOR’S NIGHT

Taylor, a third-round pick out of Western Kentucky a year ago, got a shout-out from LeBron James on the NFL’s Instagram account for his first TD. James wrote: “SPEED KILLS! Sheesh.” Taylor finished with four catches for 95 yards and two TDs. He caught a 3-yarder from BlaineGabbert in the third quarter.

“My heart kind of jumped a little bit because you know that’s my favorite player, but that’s crazy though,” Taylor said. “I didn’t expect that. So I’m definitely, a little bit more motivation to do more of that more often.”

THE MISSING

Tampa Bay didn’t dress 12 players, with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III the only starter out. Titans starting cornerback Malcolm Butler did not play, and three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker left Thursday’s practice early with an undisclosed injury. Tennessee had two other starters on the physically-unable-to-perform list in right tackle Jack Conklin and wide receiver Rishard Matthews.

INJURIES

Buccaneers running back Charles Sims was declared out with an injured knee in the opening minutes. Cornerback Jordan Whitehead hurt a shoulder and cornerback M.J. Stewart hurt a foot. Neither returned.

Titans safety Kendrick Lewis hurt his foot in the third quarter.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Justin Watson, center right, celebrates with Shaun Wilson, center left, after Watson caught a touchdown pass against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

ANTHEM UPDATE

The Buccaneers lined up on the sideline with no visible protests. The Titans did the same, and three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey changed his approach. The lineman said in London in July and confirmed on the opening day of training camp that he would keep raising his first at the end of the anthem to bring attention to how the justice system treats minorities. Once the anthem ended, Casey raised his right hand to his forehead and saluted instead of raising a fist.

Casey noted he did the salute before he started raising his fist.

“I’m trying to make sure I use my platform the right way and find different ways we can use this platform in a better way,” Casey said. “Not necessarily just as a protest but also helping the community out and trying to find solutions that we can get involved with using the platform.”

UP NEXT

Buccaneers: Host Detroit on Friday.

Titans: Visit Pittsburgh on Aug. 25.




Titans tight end Delanie Walker’s hard work keeps paying off

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Delanie Walker will leave the white suit to celebrate a new contract to teammate Taylor Lewan. The three-time Pro Bowl tight end going into his 13th NFL season is too busy working to be better than last season.

And now Walker is under contract through 2020 with yet another contract extension.“It feels good,” Walker said Saturday. “You know I feel like I worked hard on the field and especially off the field with the community. So it feels good that the organization recognizes that and see what I did and rewarded me would have a nice contract.

“You know I feel like I worked hard on the field and especially off the field with the community. So it feels good that the organization recognizes that and see what I did and rewarded me would have a nice contract. So I’m excited about that.””

— Delaney Walker

So I’m excited about that.”The Titans announced the extension after practice Friday, their second signing of the day with their Pro Bowl left tackle celebrating his new five-year, $80 million deal with a white suit and hat mimicking Boss Hogg from the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Walker had been going into his final season under contract before the extension.”I couldn’t top Taylor, so sorry to disappoint,” Walker said with a laugh. “I couldn’t find a white suit in time.”

Rights Reserved-Hillsboro Globe (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Darius Jennings (15) jumps over a water cooler as he runs a drill during NFL football training camp Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn.

Originally a sixth-round pick out of Central Missouri State, Walker spent his first seven seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers never catching more than 29 passes in any season. The 6-foot-2, 248-pound Walker knew he could do much more and gambled on signing with Tennessee in 2013 as a free agent.

He’s delivered with 356 receptions since 2013 — most by any tight end in the NFL in that span. Walker’s best season statistically came in 2015 when he caught 94 passes for 1,088 yards, and he led the Titans with 74 catches for 807 yards. Walker has gone to the Pro Bowl the past three seasons and was the game’s MVP last January .

Titans coach Mike Vrabel notes Walker didn’t come into the league as a first-round pick or starter from the beginning.

“He’s worked and he’s gotten better every year, and he continues to do that and takes great care of his body and football’s very important to him,” Vrabel said.

Walker said he knew this all was possible, which is why he left the 49ers.

“I had something good there,” Walker said. “You know they loved me there. They gave me the opportunity to play, but I didn’t see myself being that guy that I wanted to be. Knowing that I can be a dominant starter in this league, and the Titans gave me the opportunity. So I’m thankful and I’m blessed to still be able to play the way I’ll play and for them to give me an extension.”

Now 33 and with the most NFL experience on the roster, Walker says people ask him how he stays in such shape at his age. Walker said he learned by watching former teammates like Larry Allen and Bryant Young and copying how they took care of themselves.

His approach? Be among the first players to arrive and the last to leave. Get all the treatment possible and eat right. Hit the cold tub and steam room. Three massages a week. Lastly, play football like the game that it is. Walker went to the ground to pull in a ball during the offseason program.

“It’s a kid’s game, and I feel like a kid every time I step on a field,” Walker said.

Walker almost didn’t make it to training camp this year. On Tuesday, his Lamborghini got caught underneath a tractor-trailer with Walker inside on a street in downtown Nashville. Walker thanked the person who flagged down the truck driver, alerting the driver to the car stuck to the semi.

Rights Reserved-Hillsboro Globe (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) warms up during NFL football training camp Friday, July 27, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans have agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension with Walker, keeping the veteran tight end under contract through 2020.

“Thank you for stopping the guy because he was still going,” Walker said. “He didn’t see me at all.”

Notes: LB Brian Orakpo did not practice Saturday. Vrabel said Orakpo knocked shoulders with TE Luke Stocker on Friday, something that wearing pads would’ve protected. … Rookie LB Rashaan Evans limped off the practice field with a trainer, but Vrabel did not have an update on his status.




Titans introduce Mike Vrabel as their latest head coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Vrabel says nobody’s ever really ready to be a head coach for the first time in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans’ newest coach feels like he is as ready as possible thanks to the men he’s worked with in the league.

“I’m lucky basically to go through basically a doctorate degree of coaching with the people that I’ve been around,” Vrabel said.

The Titans introduced Vrabel as their new coach Monday. They agreed to terms with Vrabel on Saturday , just five days after firing Mike Mularkey coming off the franchise’s first playoff win in 14 years.

“There will be things that I take from New England, from Pittsburgh, from Ohio State, from Houston,” Vrabel said. “I mean there will be things that I take from everywhere. You draw on these experiences just like everybody else would in life … The nice thing is now there’s things that I didn’t like that Billy did, I get to change them. So there’s things I like that he did, I get to use them.”

New Tennessee Titans NFL football head coach Mike Vrabel answers questions during a news conference Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Donn Jones)

This is the first head coaching job for Vrabel, 42, who won three Super Bowl rings with New England during his 14-year NFL career as a linebacker.

Vrabel is coming off his first season as defensive coordinator for the Texans. Vrabel’s 14-year career as a player included stints with Pittsburgh under coach Bill Cowher and New England under coach Bill Belichick, along with Kansas City. In 2011, he joined the staff at his alma mater, Ohio State, coaching linebackers and defensive linemen.

“I’m not going to make the same mistake twice,” Vrabel said.

Vrabel went to Houston in 2014 and coached linebackers with the Texans for three seasons before becoming coordinator. The Texans won the AFC South in 2015 and 2016 thanks in part to strong defenses. The unit slipped this season amid injuries to players including J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.

New Tennessee Titans NFL football head coach Mike Vrabel answers questions during a news conference Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans hired Vrabel, formerly the Houston Texans defensive coordinator, five days after firing Mike Mularkey. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

 

This was the first head coaching search since Robinson was hired in January 2016, two days before the Titans took the interim tag off Mularkey. He went 21-22 in taking a team that had the NFL’s worst record at 5-27 combined over 2014 and 2015 to a team that lost in the AFC divisional round to New England. Mularkey was fired less than 48 hours after that loss.

The Titans interviewed only three people with Vrabel first to meet with them Thursday. The Titans also interviewed Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur .

“He had a great presence about him,” Robinson said. “In the interview, his football intelligence showed quickly. And at the end of the day, we felt like this is the next head coach of the Tennessee Titans.”




Titans fire coach Mike Mularkey – Search for next head coach is under way

Tennessee Titans Press Conference

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans believe the potential reward from quarterback Marcus Mariota working with his third head coach in his fourth NFL season outweighs the risk of change.

Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson listens to a question during an NFL football news conference Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans split with head coach Mike Mularkey on Monday after he revived a team with the NFL’s worst record over two seasons and led them to their first playoff victory in 14 years. The Titans announced the move two days after a 35-14 loss to New England in the AFC divisional round. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Or sticking with the same coach.

So now the Titans are looking for a new coach to replace Mike Mularkey and build off the franchise’s first playoff win in 14 years to make them a true NFL contender.”There’s nothing more that I want for our fans than to bring a championship here,” general manager Jon Robinson said Monday afternoon . ”

Robinson said the Titans have already started the process of identifying candidates. He expects to have a strong input on who the next head coach will be, but reminded Strunk owns the team and she’ll make the final call. Titans president/CEO Steve Underwood will also take part in the interviews, Robinson said, and he was with Robinson when Mularkey was informed of the decision this morning.

“I feel like it’s my charge to put the team in the best position to do that.”

The Titans fired Mike Mularkey on Monday, less than 48 hours after a 35-14 loss to New England in the AFC divisional round. Mularkey revived a team with the NFL’s worst record over two seasons and led them to their first playoff victory in 14 years only to become the first coach let go after winning a playoff game since San Francisco fired Steve Mariucci after the 2002 season.

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk turned to Mularkey in November 2015 when she fired Ken Whisenhunt after 23 games . Mularkey went 2-7 down the stretch as the Titans finished 3-13 to land the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016. That capped a 5-27 record over 2014 and 2015 that was the NFL’s worst.

“These decisions are never easy, yet Amy and I remain steadfast and the most important thing is the team, and putting our players in position to maximize their ability in all three phases of the game. I am very proud of the success we have had over the last two seasons and look forward to working with our new head coach and moving us closer to and ultimately winning a championship.”

— Jon Robinson, GM

Mularkey led the Titans to back-to-back 9-7 records — their first consecutive winning records since 2007-08. He finished with a 21-22 record after a season in which the Titans cost themselves the AFC South title with a three-game skid in December and needed to beat the Jaguars, now in the AFC championship game, to reach the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Robinson said the Titans have a talented roster, and he’s optimistic about the future.

“I love our fans, and I think I made that abundantly clear in my opening statement when I was sitting here less than two years ago (when I was hired) about what this team means to me, what this city means to me and what this state means to me,” Robinson said. “There is nothing more that I want for our fans than to bring a championship here, and I feel like it is my charge to put the team in the best position to do that.”




Titans rally, beat Bengals 24-20 for best start since 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are starting to show they can finish in style. The result is the best start for this franchise since 2008.

Marcus Mariota tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray with 36 seconds left , and the Titans rallied to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-20 Sunday for their fourth consecutive victory.

Now the Titans (6-3) have their longest winning streak since winning five straight in 2009, and they haven’t won six games this early since 2008, when the Titans won their first 10 and last reached the playoffs as the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

“I use the word resilient a lot, but I think that’s the makeup of this team,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “It’s amazing that they believe in themselves, they just know we always have a chance to win. That’s important in this business.”

Murray ran for two touchdowns, and Mariota finished with 264 yards passing.

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard (21) is knocked out of bounds by Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) and offensive lineman Brian Schwenke (62) after Dennard intercepted a pass in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

The Bengals (3-6) lost for the third time in four games despite sacking Mariota four times. They started with three defensive starters scratched and lost a fourth when linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected in the second quarter after pushing the arm of an official.

Cincinnati took its only lead at 20-17 on a 70-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green with 5:03 left, but the Bengals couldn’t stop the Titans, who drove 73 yards for the winning TD.

They had one last chance. On their final play, Dalton threw deep only to have Titans safety Kevin Byard knock the ball down.

“Not getting a ‘W’ really hurts,” Green said.

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER BENGAL TOSSED

Last week, Green was ejected from a loss at Jacksonville for a fight with Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey that cost him $42,541 in fines. Against the Titans, Burfict was ejected with 5:12 left in the second quarter.

Burfict was flagged for a late hit on Murray, then two plays later referee Jeff Triplette announced Burfict had made contact with an official. Replays later showed Burfict shoving the left arm of down judge Jeff Bergman, who immediately threw a flag. Burfict took his time leaving the field, talking with fans, raising both arms and finally jumping to high-five a fan before going into the locker room.

“Sometimes what happens is you push back and you touch an official,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “You can’t do that. He knows better and we pay a price. We pay a price because it hurts us when it’s on the field that way, and then he’s not on the field.”

TURNOVERS

Dalton had a hard time holding onto the ball with two fumbles in the second quarter. On the first, Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo sacked and stripped him of the ball, which was recovered by Derrick Morgan. Then Dalton had a bad snap that Morgan again recovered. But Mariota gave the ball right back to Cincinnati when Darqueze Dennard intercepted a pass.

RECORD STREAK ENDS

Titans kicker Ryan Succop’s NFL record streak of successful field goals finally ended at 56 after his first attempt. He missed wide right on a 48-yarder midway through the second quarter. Succop came into the game having easily topped the previous NFL mark of 46 consecutive field goals inside the 50 set by Matt Bryant of Atlanta between 2013 and 2015. It was Succop’s first miss from inside 50 yards since Sept. 21, 2014, in a loss at Cincinnati. The Titans kicker came into this game 21 of 23 on field goals. Succop connected from 44 yards for a 17-13 halftime lead.

INJURIES.

Cincinnati: Cornerback Adam Jones left the field with 8:57 left in the third quarter, and the Bengals ruled him out with a concussion. … Dennard also hurt a toe.

Tennessee: Mariota hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder on a scramble on the final drive, but he said he was fine. Mularkey said tight end Delanie Walker hurt a hand or wrist.

UP NEXT

Bengals: Visit Denver next Sunday.

Titans: Visit Pittsburgh on Thursday night.




Tennessee Titans host 2nd Annual High School Media Days

Thursday, at Nissan Stadium, the Tennessee Titans hosted the 2nd Annual High School Football Media Day.

The Outreach Coordinator, Josh Corey, organized the successful event which showcased area football teams, coaching staff, key returning players while also providing media with much needed information about TSSAA classification changes, team records and stats from the 2016 season.

All area high schools were invited to participate by bringing three to four 2017 key players to meet area television sports broadcasters, radio, print and online media. It was an excellent opportunity to showcase the vast array of athletic talent that exists in the greater Nashville area.

The following Metro Nashville Public Schools high schools participated: Antioch, Cane Ridge, East Nashville, Hillsboro, Hillwood, Glencliff, Hunters Lane and Stratford. Area schools included Lipscomb Academy, Trousdale County, Clarksville East, Nashville Christian, Wilson Central, CPA, Franklin, Oakland, Riverdale and Ravenwood.

Several MNPS high schools made coaching changes and a media day is an excellent opportunity for schools to introduce the new coaches.

The following MNPS high schools all have new coaches:

Antioch – Mike Head

Glencliff  – Tate Thigpen

Hillsboro – Maurice Fitzgerald

Stratford – Jerrell Cogman

In addition to an opportunity for coaches and players to meet one on one with media outlets, 104.5 The Zone’s Chad Withrow and Paul Kuharsky broadcast live remote from Nissan stadium interviewing coaches and players. WKRN, WSMV, News Channel 5, and FOX all sent key sports broadcasters to the event.