Titans start camp with new coach, goal to win now
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Coach Ken Whisenhunt sees no need for patience with the Titans.
This is a franchise that last played in the postseason in 2008 with its last playoff win in January 2004. The Titans reported Friday for training camp with their new coach, and Whisenhunt says he knows fans want to win now.
So do the Titans.
''This is not about rebuilding a team or being patient,'' Whisenhunt said. ''This is about winning. Our goal is to get a home playoff game because that's an important piece of it for our fans. So I hope they understand the process of this, but by no means do we feel like it's a process where we're asking for patience.''
Whisenhunt cautioned that he has yet to see the Titans in pads yet and every team has high expectations at this time of year. He coached against the Titans in September last season as offensive coordinator with San Diego in a visit to Tennessee, and he said he thought they were a good team then. That impression has not changed.
''The way our players worked in the offseason I think it gives them confidence that we have a chance, especially because ... we were close in so many games last year,'' Whisenhunt said. ''So I really believe that our players feel that way, and that's an important piece of it.''
The Titans went 7-9 last season losing three games by a field goal or less before coach Mike Munchak was fired.
Six losses came by nine points or fewer. Quarterback Jake Locker said the Titans are close, noting two of the tightest losses were to AFC South champ Indianapolis. The Titans lost at home 30-27 to the Colts and 22-14 at Indianapolis - both without Locker who missed the final seven games with a Lisfranc injury in his right foot.
''That's how close this league is,'' Locker said. ''We need to find a way to finish those games, and games we let get away from us find a way to stay in it.''
Locker staying healthy the entire season will be a key to how well the Titans fare in Whisenhunt's debut season. The quarterback took part in all the team's on-field sessions this offseason, and he said he ran with no issues during the conditioning test Friday morning.
His contract is good only through this season. Locker said he has no worries because he and his wife had taken good care of the money he has received so far. His only motivation now isn't landing his next contract.
''I care about winning football games and doing it with a good group of guys I've gotten to know really well,'' Locker said.
Whisenhunt said every player taking the conditioning test passed with the exception being right guard Andy Levitre who had an appendectomy Thursday. The Titans put him on the non-football injury list with defensive end Marcus Dixon on the physically unable to perform list with a calf injury.
The Titans, whose first practice is Saturday morning, have only 43 days before the season opener Sept. 7 at Kansas City with the preseason opener Aug. 9 hosting Green Bay.
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard is one of seven veterans brought in, and he said it's hard helping a team turn into a winner. But he played the Titans last December while still in Denver where coaches talked about the Titans being a couple games from making the playoffs.
''We just got to continue to take that next step and I'm excited to be a part of that,'' Woodyard said.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL