'Mouse' was heard by Texans with decisive interception

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Logan Ryan was battling DeAndre Hopkins pretty well Sunday at Nissan Stadium in what was the Titans’ first true cornerback-on-receiver matchup of the season.

So when Ryan took a helmet-to-helmet hit from running back Alfred Blue on the left sideline with 6:29 remaining in the third quarter, it looked like trouble.

Clearly woozy, Ryan false started a few times as he tried to get up. He had a blank gaze as he walked into the sideline medical tent. He was done for the day with a concussion and the Titans turned to LeShaun Sims to and I presumed trouble was ahead.SimsPickHOU

But the second-year cornerback from Southern Utah handled the assignment with aplomb.

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How the Titans called Derrick Henry's 75-yard game-sealing touchdown play

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- How the Titans' game-clinching 75-yard touchdown run by Derrick Henry came to be is a pretty good story about film study, situational recognition and execution.

My video report:

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Mailbag: Why the dissonance between team reaction and fan reaction to Titans' performances?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Greetings people. Hope your weekend if off to a rousing start.

Onto the mail...

PK: It seems to me that the team is focused on winning, and at 7-4 and in first place in the AFC South, the Titans have done a good share of that. It seems to me that the fan base is focused on aesthetics and untapped potential, and given the inconsistent and limited offense, the Titans haven’t given them enough of that.TitansTogether

Are we at a point where winning isn’t enough, and how a team wins is the bigger story? I don’t think we are too far down that path yet. But I do think this season and the way the Nashville is reacting to these Titans might be giving us a glimpse into the direction things are heading.

Maybe it’s just a special thing for the Titans circa 2017 with Mike Mularkey at the helm.

The fact is, while Titans fans would kill for their team to be the Patriots, the

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Pickers picks: Seahawks, Saints, Jordan Howard, DeMarco Murray

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The won-loss records below got a lot prettier last week, when I made six calls in this space and hit on five of them.

The one miss was gigantic, but let’s not dwell…

Games of the week (4-3-1)

Seattle +5.5 vs. Philadelphia

I like the Eagles, like everyone. What’s not to like. But I don’t think they go to Seattle and win big like they’ve been doing. They may win, but it’ll be under this number against a home dog at a great home.

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Better tackling at the core of Titans' defensive resurgence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After the Week 4 monster loss at Houston, the Titans ranked 29th overall in defense.

It’s been a steady climb to respectability since then, and after their 20-16 win at Indianapolis in Week 12, they stand 11th.

A big part of the 18-spot rise has been far sounder tackling.

CaseyChaseSEA

“Some guys think it’s the hit more than the tackle, they think guys are going to go down just because you hit them, or you hit them low,” Mularkey said. “You’ve got to wrap up. We have been better, yes.”

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There is a limit to play-action and option plays for Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are good on play-action and they are good when Marcus Mariota has a run-pass option, most of which come out of option plays.

So the temptation is to demand more of both.

And the Titans should do more.MularkeyStanceIND

But there is a line after which they’d probably get diminishing returns.

We have a number, we’re pretty good about sticking to it,” Mike Mularkey said. “It’s not as easy as you think. We want to be good at what we have. The more you do, the less you can practice it, the less effective you can be…

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‘Good push off:’ How the Titans are preparing for DeAndre Hopkins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a 56-14 embarrassment in Houston on Oct. 1, DeAndre Hopkins pushed the Titans around en route to 10 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

He’s easily the most dangerous guy on the version of the Texans that will be at Nissan Stadium Sunday.

“We’re trying to simulate it as much as possible, the physical part of it, and get as much of a good look in practice as we can,” Mike Mularkey said. “Plus we’ve played him, these guys know him well enough. It’s a physical matchup.JacksonPIT

“One thing he does… I think they’ve got the most pass interference calls against them in the league, and they’ve got the second-most holding calls in the league against the opponents against him. It’s a tough challenge covering him.”

A guy you may never have heard of is a big part of getting the Titans ready for Hopkins.

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How Marcus Mariota adjusted to Corey Davis' sloppy routes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota pledged to get the bottom of his recent spurt of interceptions and to get better.

Wednesday, after the Titans installed the first phase of their game plan for Sunday’s home game against the Texans, he spoke a bit about what he’s been doing wrong.

Mike Mularkey said the Titans aren’t finding a specific issue with the quarterback.

“I don’t think there is anything mechanical,” he said. “I think there are things we can do better route-running wise. And then he’s thrown some poor throws, there is no doubt, he knows that. That one (in Indianapolis) to Harry Douglas, was a poor throw.

“I don’t know if it was mechanics. It’s going to happen.”Mariota3IND

As for the idea of the quarterback falling into bad habits, Mularkey wasn’t buying my premise.

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