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Titans look for cornerback solutions
Someone is going to have to fill the cornerback vacancy for the Tennessee Titans, who let go of struggling starter Perrish Cox two weeks ago just before their bye week.
There are three candidates, and likely all three will have some sort of rotation at the spot opposite Jason McCourty. Even McCourty himself could find himself relegated to a rotation of sorts in certain situations. That happened in the Titans' game against the Chicago Bears just before the bye, though McCourty later exited the game with a bruised knee.
Most likely, though, McCourty won't rotate much if at all, given the uncertainty the Titans face on the other side with rookie LeShaun Sims, nickelback Brice McCain and veteran backup Valentino Blake.
Despite less than stellar results in the secondary, and the team's No. 26 ranking in the NFL in pass defense, Titans coach Mike Mularkey remains confident in his defensive backs.
"I know this: At the end of the day, they're gonna compete and they're gonna do the best that they can," Mularkey said. "I'm gonna go home and lay my head on the pillow and know that I'm getting the best from the guys that are out there. That's all you can ask as a coach. I'm confident in these guys. They've got a challenge, there's no question about it, but they're gonna do the best they can."
Veterans McCain and Blake have struggled at times this season, though McCain's play has improved as the season has gone on.
"He's played better," Mularkey said of McCain. "He's in the rotation as well with those corners because of his experience as a starter. He's played a lot of snaps for us, mostly as a nickel, but he's also in that rotation of playing corner for us."
McCain, who will retain the role in the slot, no matter who gets the start on the outside, could find himself there possibly in the base defense before sliding inside in sub packages Sunday against the Denver Broncos (1 p.m. ET, CBS). If that is the case, he said he is more than willing to do so.
"I'm looking forward to doing whatever the team wants me to do," McCain said. "I'm looking forward to Sunday and getting ready for Denver and playing my best game."
Blake is eager for a step up in playing time, though he also was victimized a number of times in coverage.
"I attack every week with the same mind frame," Blake said. "You never know when your number is going to be called, because you don't ever want to take anything for granted. I just like to keep myself ready, and whatever role I'm called upon for, I'll be ready."
Sims, who got 36 snaps against Chicago in his first real time in the defense since preseason, said it helped him to know what life is like as an NFL cornerback.
"For me, I just want to focus on what I need to do, get in the film room and be as prepared as possible," the fifth-round pick from Southern Utah said. "It was nice to be in there to get my feet wet and get acclimated to being out there, and I've got to build on that this week."
SERIES HISTORY: 38th regular-season meeting. Titans lead series, 21-15-1. The Broncos mashed the Titans in the last meeting in Denver back in 2013. That game is most known for Matt Prater making an NFL-record 64-yard field goal.