Dennard Wilson: Titans' Corners Will Press Receivers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – To hear Dennard Wilson tell it, the days of Titans cornerbacks standing beyond the sticks and praying they can close on a receiver before he can take a short reception for a first down are over.

Wilson was beautifully eloquent on the subject, a long-time sore spot with Titans analysts and fans alike. 

Dennard Wilson

“For me, I believe press or less, Wilson said. “And I want them to be in front of receivers and challenge the receivers. Ultimately in this game, if you get free access, it’s easy for the quarterbacks to complete balls. So what I do, I want to create hesitation at the line of scrimmage and make them earn it the hard way, make them earn it throwing the 50-50 ball. Everything else we’re going to challenge.”

Former defensive coordinator Shane Bowen repeatedly said he mostly left it up to players as to whether they would press or playoff, a decision that certainly felt like it should come from a higher level as part of the scheme.

Wilson didn’t hesitate to say “no” when asked if players would have a choice in pressing.

“From Day One, it’s we press everything, period,” he said.

The best cornerback of the Titans era, Samari Rolle, has consistently told me that corners who prefer to play off or who consistently back off in man situations do so for one primary reason, a fear of getting beat over the top.

Wilson expanded the circumstances and said it’s not all about fear.

“Listen, offenses do a great job of giving different formations, right?” he said. “A lot of offenses when they spread you out, it’s wide. You’re going to line up and press them, you want to go body on body. But what offenses do, they shrink the formation and get you to back off. A lot of times when you see guys playing off coverage, it might be because of the coverage that you’re playing and you have zone vision so you have to be off.

“To me, it’s not about the DBs or players having fear of doing it, it’s about what do you emphasize? And players do what you emphasize. It’s what you want from a scheme standpoint. And then teaching the techniques and letting the corners understand the leverage and where’s their help. When they thoroughly understand where their help is they can play to certain leverages and take certain routes away.”

No cornerbacks or receivers were available to discuss what Wilson said.

Brunskill’s move: The last time Daniel Brunskill was asked to move to center, he wound up starting there for the 49ers a few days later.

Heading into the spring for the Titans, the team told him it didn’t have anyone behind Lloyd Cushenberry and asked him to work at the spot. 

His hope is an alternative center emerges or is added and he can compete for right guard again. Currently, Saahdiq Charles and Dillon Radunz are working there.

Bill Callahan mentioned Charles as an option at center earlier in the offseason but things are going well for him at right guard so far.

Landry's alternative: Harold Landry chose to work out on his own rather than attend Titans' voluntary OTA sessions, but he was not far away.

I was training at a facility down in Franklin," he said. "I had my own coach and everything to help me carry out my plan. I've just been focused on everything that I normally focus on, whether that's getting bigger, stronger, faster or techniques, rush moves, finishing, pretty much my whole deal that I've got to be able to do when I get out there on the field. 

"I feel like it's been going well."

Death of kickoff hangtime: Nick Folk will turn 40 during the season. Last year he did better at kicking off than most expected considering he’d taken two years off from the job in New England, with a 62.3-yard kickoff average and 50.8 percent touchback rate.

With a new kickoff rule in place, hang time is a non-factor which means it will be easier for him to kick off effectively or for the Titans to ask punter Ryan Stonehouse, or even someone else, to handle the job.

I wonder if it might even help extend the careers of accurate but aging kickers.

“I don’t know that yet,” Folk said. “Obviously hang time isn’t an issue anymore, you’re going on the first touch of the ground or when the returner touches it. So hang time isn’t necessarily a thing. So I think that is still to be determined. But yeah, if you look at a 30,000-foot view, you could say that. Or people might just start taking touchbacks. I don’t know.”

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