Titans' TE Jonnu Smith said he never had any doubt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In six games, Jonnu Smith had three catches for 23 yards.

JonnuSmithProfileThrust forward into the leading role at tight end for the Titans once Delanie Walker suffered a season-ending injury in the opener at Miami, Smith was struggling to be a factor in the passing game, and he wasn’t blocking well either.

He didn’t need to have Walker-level stats to be a successful piece of the Titans’ offense, but he needed more than that, and he moved from a when to if question for me.

It wasn’t about when he was going to turn into the guy they envisioned with a third-round pick in 2017 it was about if he was ever going to turn into that guy.

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Marcus Mariota's ability to 'ride and decide' adding degree of difficulty to defending Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The football is so far handed off, there is no way it’s coming back, and a defense will react accordingly, playing a running back run.LewisHandoffPatriots

And that’s when Marcus Mariota manages to finish his ride with a last-second move that changes everything, retracting the handoff, changing the course of the play and completely altering the dynamic of the defense that needs to be played.

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Colts ahead of Titans at addressing their trouble spot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For as long as the Titans and Colts have been division rivals, Tennessee has had well-documented issues at receiver. And for nearly that long, the offensive line has needed work in Indianapolis.SharpeSmithPatriots

Sunday, when the two team’s square off at Lucas Oil Stadium, each will enter the game having dealt with a long-standing position of concern. I refer back to this story about long-lasting team gluts at specific positions as much as anything I’ve written. It’s a bewildering issue.

But as is often the case in the rivalry, it’s the Colts who have pulled ahead.

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Scouting review: Handsy DBs keyed big day for Titans' defense

Blake Beddingfield was a Titans' scout for 19 years, through the 2017 draft. He was the team's director of college scouting for his final six years. Follow him on Twitter at @BlakeBeddingfi1. He’s brought to you by Party Fowl. Eat hot chicken and drink boozy slushes in The Gulch, the Boro or in Donelson.

By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A full scouting review of the Titans’ win over the Patriots…

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Kenny Vaccaro’s hit on James White on the first play on defense set the tone for the game and the defense never let up.

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Titans' offense has made it beyond growing pains phases

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota doesn’t want to say the switch is flipped.

It seems to me he fears it’ll signal his teammates they’ve reaches some sort of finish line. And while there certainly remains room for the Titans offense to get even better, the switch has flipped.MariotaPatPatriots

The Titans have grown out of the growing pains phases and into the comfortable-in-the-offense phase, executing it very well, no matter some deficits in personnel

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The Titans and Tom Brady: 'We didn’t allow him to ever get comfortable. Ever'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Coaches, opponents and analysts have said the same thing for the bulk of Tom Brady’s 19 years in the NFL.

The key to beating him and the Patriots’ offense is getting him off his spot with a rush up the middle and in his face.BradySackedPatriots

Teams regularly talk about it, but rarely accomplish it.

But it was a major feature in the Titans fantastic 34-10 win over New England at Nissan Stadium Sunday, starting with a tone-setting 11-yard sack by Wesley Woodyard of Brady on a third-and-8 from the Patriots 26-yard line at 5:04 of the first quarter. He bullied his way past running back James White’s attempted blitz pickup.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt's search for a new athletics director has been narrowed to two, with Army's athletic director Boo Corrigan one of the potential successors to David Williams, sources tell me.Vandy

I am less certain of the other candidate, It may be Colorado athletic director Rick George. It may be an outside-the-box business person, likely from Nashville, without a big sports administration background.

Vanderbilt's Board of Trust met in recent days but it's unclear to what degree the post was discussed or if it reached a final decision.

Williams announced on Sept. 11 that he would leave his post. He will transition to a full-time position as a tenured law professor, a job he's held since 2000. He's also been head of the athletics department since 2003.

[Unlocked]

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Pickers mailbag: There is still a path to a wild card berth for the Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- I am filled with steroids. I would fail an NFL test and get suspended. But I am feeling a bit better, so we've got that going for us.PatriotsHelmet

Welcome to the mailbag. If you missed the big Periscope, here it is,

You can also find that on the public Facebook page, which you should definitely be following.

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