Coach Just Hopes Special Teams Stop Hurting Titans - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Coach Just Hopes Special Teams Stop Hurting Titans

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Titans have struggled so much on special teams this season that coach Mike Munchak just hopes they just break even down the stretch.

The Titans lost a fumble off a kickoff return in last week's loss to Indianapolis with their third returner this season, adding to a fumbled punt that ended a rally in a loss to San Francisco last month. That followed a safety on Tennessee's first kickoff of the season when the returner stepped on the goal line. The fumbled punt against the 49ers cost Darius Reynaud his job a day later, even though he scored three touchdowns on returns for the Titans last season and helped on a fourth.

Damian Williams hurt his hip on a punt return Nov. 10, forcing the Titans to sign Devon Wylie to as their third kick returner this season. Then he fumbled in the third quarter against the Colts last week when he ran into the back of a teammate, setting up the Colts for a quick touchdown.

"We've had things happen that shouldn't happen and so yeah going forward you're looking for positive plays out of special teams," Munchak said. "Again, that's another phase guys are working hard. We're doing some good things, just don't have a whole lot to show for it, as much as we would've thought we'd have this year to show for it and big plays stand out. When you fumble a ball, a punt and a kickoff — we've fumbled one of each this year — that's what you're going to remember."

The Titans also have failed to execute an onside kick in each of the past two games, both losses that ruined comeback attempts. Each time, they attempted a kick with the ball laying on the ground and not on a tee. Each time, they failed to get the movement expected with the ball going straight to an opponent. Munchak said that attempt worked against San Francisco with the 49ers fumbling the ball, though the Titans didn't recover.

Tennessee has some big plays too, though Munchak said people don't tend to remember those. Bernard Pollard blocked a field goal in a win over San Diego, while Jason McCourty scored a touchdown off a botched hold on a field goal attempt in Seattle.

"We got to find a way to make more plays," Munchak said.

The struggles come after Munchak changed his special teams coaches during the offseason. He didn't renew the contract of Alan Lowry, who coached special teams the past 14 seasons and designed the play known as the Music City Miracle kickoff return that beat Buffalo in an AFC wild-card game in January 2000. Munchak moved Nate Kaczor from helping coach the offensive line to handling special teams.

The Titans (4-6) are sticking with Wylie at returner with a trip to Oakland (4-6) on Sunday with Williams not expected to practice or play this week. Munchak said they feel Wylie was very decisive.

"For us going forward with the options of bringing in someone new, we felt we're comfortable with going forward with him," Munchak said. "We'll see how it goes this week."

Wylie, who hadn't returned a kick in a game since last season when he was with Kansas City before the loss to the Colts, is looking forward to another opportunity. He's from Roseville, Calif., and played at Fresno State. He even attended a game in Oakland last season.

"Definitely, that's motivation to go out there and show that's not something that happens a lot, show that I'm the returner for the team and I deserve to be back there and reinstall faith with the coaches," Wylie said."

Notes: LB Moise Fokou (left knee) was limited but practiced for a second straight day. WR Justin Hunter (concussion) was limited along with DE Derrick Morgan (groin) and C Brian Schwenke (ankle). Munchak said Schwenke was able to do a little bit of team drills.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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