20 years ago today, the Tennessee Oilers broke the bank for Yancey Thigpen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Pittsburgh Steelers had embarrassed the Tennessee Oilers just 55 days earlier.

Thigpen2The home team had won at the Liberty Bowl, 16-6 to go 8-8. But fans in black and gold filled the place.

Attendance was 50-677 that on Dec. 21, 1997 – nearly 20,000 more than the second-biggest crowd the team had drawn in a misguided commuter year.

It was the game that prompted Bud Adams to admit a second season as a Memphis tenant was untenable.

As the franchise looked forward, on the second day of free agency it made a big move at its weakest spot, signing receiver Yancey Thigpen away from the Steelers.

Twenty years ago today they gave Thigpen a five-year, $21.5 million deal with a $5.5 million signing bonus.

Steve McNair turned 25 that day.

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Beware of rumors: What we know about Titans' new uniforms

NewUniformsComingNASHVILLE, Tenn. – You are obsessed with uniforms.

Particularly with the Titans' new uniforms, to be revealed in April, probably right before the draft.

My gauge of you tells me that this is a bigger reveal than any free agent or draft pick will be.

The web is already rampant with rumor and speculation.

Cronos, aka Titan Man, has the Titans' T and three stars on his back, but not in the flames that surround the regular logo but in a circle of a pattern that you might see on an ancient Greek vase.

So some have concluded that is a preview of what’s to come.

Others see the somewhat-altered flametack logo on the floor of the weight room, heavier on light blue, that was redone last year and see hints in it. (Pictured below.)

One guy claims to have a connection at Nike and spilled details from that.

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How Titans O-line and Derrick Henry will do in a zone-heavy scheme

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The play-action the Titans want to use will be built off schemes we’ve seen in recent years from the Texans, the Falcons, Washington and the Rams.

And that will include a heavy dose of zone-blocking by the offensive line.

“I don’t want to fit us into a shoebox, but I would say we will definitely run zone,” said new offensive line coach Keith Carter, pictured below. “We’ll be multiple though, we’ll run zone, we’ll run gap scheme and all of that stuff.”Henry2KC

“From an outside zone standpoint, it’s a big transition, you do a lot more running and a lot more second level running, first level hitting wider landmarks. At the end of the day it’s still just football, knowing what you are doing and doing it a certain way.

The overall change may not be as dramatic as we tend to envision when we hear the term.

Hall of Fame finalist Kevin Mawae, as good a pulling center as the league has seen, said the Titans can “easily” transition into a heavier zone blocking team.

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Pickers mailbag: How much extra offseason time does Mike Vrabel get with the Titans?

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. --Welcome to a big, post-Super Bowl Titans mailbag, brought to you by Pickers Vodka.

Before we dive into questions, here's Friday's Periscope session.

At the bottom is this week's edition of the podcast.

Now onto a good batch of quality questions. Thanks for writing. You can tweet questions to me any time -- @PaulKuharskyNFL, please use "#PKMail."

PK: April 2 is the start of the team’s offseason program. Teams with new head coaches get a bit of a head start. This is from the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the NFL:MariotaLewan

“If a Club hires a new head coach after the end of the prior regular season, that Club may schedule or conduct an offseason workout program for no more than nine total weeks, with eight of the weeks required to be consecutive and subject to Article 22, Section 3, to be completed over a twelve-week period. All other Clubs may schedule or conduct offseason workout programs for no more than nine consecutive total weeks, to be completed over a ten-week period.

“Each year offseason workout programs cannot begin prior to the first

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PODCAST: Mike Vrabel's staff, my Hall of Fame ballot and Marcus Mariota's contract

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Episode 4 of our podcast-only podcast is ready for you.

Part 1, like podcast versions of my public Periscope and Facebook Lives, is available through iTunes, here, or directly through the Vokal website, here.BlevinsPodcast

If you're a member of the site, Part 1 and Part 2 are together, and all you have to do is head below the line.

Wih the help of Madison Blevins, I cover early impressions of the Titans’ coaching staff; expectations for Marcus Mariota with Matt Lafleur; Mike Vrabel splitting up the linebacker coaching; lessons the Titans can learn from the Super Bowl; final thoughts on what unfolded in the Hall of Fame selection committee room; and Nashville SC's coming debut.

As always, we welcome your feedback.

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By splitting inside and outside backers, Titans specializing more

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have never had separate coaches for insider and outside linebackers before.

But among the coaches introduced to the local media Wednesday were outside linebacker coach Shane Bowen and inside linebacker coach Tyrone McKenzie.BowenMcKenzie

Former NFL linebacker Mike Vrabel, who played both inside and out, will officially look at the two jobs in a base 3-4 as different ones.

For the first time, the Titans will split their linebackers, with Bowen coaching outside linebackers (he’s on the left in the picture) and McKenzie coaching inside linebacker.

Both spoke of how the two spots might share a name but qualify as different positions.

It seems a smart move considering just how dissimilar Jayon Brown’s job is from Brian Orakpo’s.

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Matt LaFleur doesn't want Marcus Mariota to hold back; QB must become a stakeholder in the offense

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota is at a career crossroads as he heads into his fourth year.

He’s got new, better coaching resources who are going to rebuild his mechanics and build an offense around him.

Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said he doesn’t want Mariota to hold back in speaking up about what works for him and what doesn’t.MariotaThrowKC

That is something all the top quarterbacks do, as they graduate to being a stakeholder in their offense.

The mild-mannered quarterback has to accept that invitation.

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Mike Vrabel stayed true to pledge not to fill staff with buddies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Vrabel stayed true to a promise not to fill his staff with buddies.

TyroneMcKenzieOf the dozen coaches the Titans introduced to the media Wednesday, eight didn’t previously know Vrabel personally before they connected with him for their new jobs.

Those seven: Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, special teams coach Craig Aukerman, offensive line coach Keith Carter, running back coach Tony Dews, inside linebacker coach Tyrone McKenzie (pictured), wide receiver coach Rob Moore, tight end coach Arthur Smith and defensive line coach Terrell Williams.

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