Titans o-line: Levin in, Spain out, Jones moved, Lewan miffed at refs

Terry McCormick

For weeks, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel insisted that there would be no changes in the starting offensive line.

But by halftime of Sunday’s 26-22 comeback win over the New York Jets, with the Titans trailing 16-6, Vrabel and his staff evidently had a change of heart.

The Titans in the second half benched left guard Quinton Spain, shifted starting center Ben Jones over to left guard and inserted second-year pro Corey Levin in at center.

In being asked about the switch in the postgame, Vrabel mostly dodged the question, saying, “I”m ust trying to make decisions that are best for the football team where I see fit. Whether that be in any position, plays or schedule, I try to do my best just to make the decision with the team’s best interest in mind.”

The Titans gave up only one sack in the first half, but the offense clearly sputtered for most of the first two quarters before finding a rhythm in the hurry-up offense in the final two minutes with a touchdown drive.

In the second half, Tennessee put up 277 yards of offense, and allowed just two sacks with the makeshift line that finished the game.

Levin, a sixth-round choice a year ago from Tennessee-Chattanooga, had been inactive most of his rookie year, and a backup this season. The converted guard said he was ready to go when his time came.

“I had never really played center in college, but they saw that in me,” Levin said. “We worked on it for times like this. When they call your number you’ve got to be ready.”

While the line played better in the second half, there were certainly blemishes and questionable calls from Jerome Boger’s crew that flagged both teams for a combined 19 penalties for 171 yards.

There was one play in the first half where both Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin were called for holding on the same play. Conklin got another 15-yard unnecessary roughness call that appeared to be questionable as well.

Lewan was especially miffed after the game at the officiating, saying that their performance certainly didn’t help the Titans, who were struggling plenty in their own right.

“We tried our best to lose that game in the beginning. The refs definitely didn’t help with some of those bull—- calls. But we got it together, and a win is a win, no matter how you stack it,” Lewan said. “We’re back to .500 and we’ve got to keep going. It’s frustrating, man it’s frustrating with some of those calls, like the one with Jack (Conklin) where he’s just finishing on the play and the guy actually hits him. Calling me for a holding after the ball is out, there were just some absolutely ridiculous calls. That being said, we shot our selves in the foot so many times even without their help. Solid win, but we play in four days. So we’ve got to get going and finish strong.”