2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Coming off byes an issue for Titans past 3 seasons

    2013-11-01 02:32

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Titans have short memories.

They say it's a new season and they're a different team, so having lost three straight coming off their bye week means nothing.

The Titans just have to prove it.

It's understandable why they blocked out memories of last year's game after the bye week. Tennessee became the first team to lose in Jacksonville to the Jaguars, a 24-19 loss so ugly that coach Mike Munchak fired his offensive coordinator the next day.

The Titans (3-4) are looking to snap a three-game skid, and it won't be easy in St. Louis against a coach who knows them well. Maybe the emotion of playing against the man who coached this franchise for 16 seasons will keep the Titans from being as flat as they were a year ago.

Cornerback Alterraun Verner said he didn't know the Titans struggled after bye weeks in previous seasons and insists that's all in the past.

''No lesson to be learned other than we need to be ready, and that's what our coaches have been emphasizing that we can't have no lag or start off sluggish because we had a week off,'' Verner said. ''We have to start off fast ... that's going to be the key. We have to jump out early and say we're here to stay and here to play, and that's the nature you're going to see the next nine weeks from us.''

Since becoming the Titans in 1999, this franchise had been pretty good coming off the annual break in the schedule going 8-4 under Fisher.

The struggles after a bye started in Fisher's final season when the Titans lost 29-17 at Miami, and they won only once more down the stretch finishing 6-10. Tennessee lost both before and after the bye in Munchak's first season in 2011. They won at Miami before their bye last season only to lose in Jacksonville.

''There's no magic way to change it,'' Munchak said Thursday. ''Teams change so much year to year, and it's hard to put your finger on it. All you can go by is feeling that the team is at a good place mentally. We're at a good place physically for the most part. ... I feel good about our chances to come out playing at least as good as we can play. Players don't even think about that.''

Practicing well during the week after a bye helps, according to safety Bernard Pollard. He said the layoff showed a little Wednesday when the Titans practiced in pads, but they still turned in a solid practice. He said the key is working hard each day.

Even though the Titans haven't won since a 3-1 start, they only trail Indianapolis (5-2) by two games in the AFC South. Jake Locker is feeling much better a month after spraining his right hip and knee, and he said the Titans understand they have a real chance to be in the playoff picture at the end of the year.

''In November and December's when you have to win if you want to be relevant in those discussions,'' Locker said. ''We understand that it's something we haven't done great here the last couple years. We're going to work as hard as we can to turn that around this year.''

NOTES: Receivers coach Shawn Jefferson wasn't in Tennessee when Fisher coached here, but he understands emotions may be high Sunday. He said Thursday the best way to show their respect for Fisher and former teammates simply is to go kick the living daylights out of them. ... S Michael Griffin (right quadriceps) missed his second straight practice. The Titans hope he practices Friday. ... LB Moise Fokou (left knee) didn't practice again, and Munchak said it'll be hard for him to play Sunday. Colin McCarthy could make his second straight start. ... DE Kamerion Wimbley missed practice for personal reasons. Rookie WR Justin Hunter was added to the injury report with a finger but practiced fully.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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