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Titans head coach wants receivers to be more physical

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"This defensive secondary plays physical with the receivers, and they have to understand they have to be disciplined in their routes, they have to battle for the ball when it comes their way," Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

You know the old story.

Coach calls out a player publicly.. and that player:

1) rises to the challenge
2) continues with the status quote
3) bitches about it on twitter (dude, not everyone is Chad Johnson)

Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt, realizing that Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals will be a physical contest, demanded more effort from his guys. Specially, he wants more physical production from his receivers... like Justin Hunter, selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.

"They are going into a physical game," Whisenhunt said via the Tennessean. "This defensive secondary plays physical with the receivers, and they have to understand they have to be disciplined in their routes, they have to battle for the ball when it comes their way… We didn't play the way we wanted to last week, so this is a chance to get on the field again and do a little better."

Only four players on Tennessee's roster have three receptions or more, including Hunter who has five grabs for 89 yards receiving. Delanie Walker is the only Titans player with over 100 yards receiving this season, and he's a tight end. Comparatively speaking, the Bengals have three players with over 100 yards receiving, including running back Giovani Bernard who leads the team in receptions (11) and yards receiving (141).

Hunter was labeled as the team's breakout player, by some publications.

"Justin is a talented, young receiver, and I think that is part of it, being young,'' Whisenhunt said via the Tennessean. "He has made strides since he has been with us and I think he'll continue to do that. I think that is part of the process of growing up in the NFL."

It'll be tough against Cincinnati's secondary... but not impossible.

TARGETS REC. YDS AVG YAC TD INT PD RATING
Leon Hall 13 8 70 8.8 26 0 1 1 43.8
Terence Newman 21 14 133 9.5 22 0 0 1 84.0
Adam Jones 12 9 155 17.2 65 1 0 1 144.4
Dre Kirkpatrick 2 2 14 7.0 4 0 0 0 95.8

NOTE: Rating is the opposing quarterback's rating when throwing passes to receivers who those cornerbacks are covering.

Hall, nicknamed the technician, has quietly shut down every opponent that he's covered. Should he be compared to the great cornerbacks in the game? We say yes. Terence Newman has been solid, if not serviceable, and Adam Jones has been aggressive... but that aggressiveness has also cost him. Dre Kirkpatrick has found the field for a handful of players and we're still waiting on first-round pick Darqueze Dennard.

However, it might be Cincinnati's safeties and linebackers who will face the spotlight against Walker, who is off to the fastest start among all tight ends in franchise history, a history that includes Frank Wycheck, Dave Casper, Willard Dewveall and Bo Scaife.

One of his strengths is his speed, considering he's nearly 250 pounds... and still runs like a champion. Per the Tennessean:

"I've always been fast," said Walker, now listed at 248 pounds.

Walker said his game is better these days because he pays more attention to details, but he's also picked up tips from some of the best at his position, players such as Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Graham.

One day he'd like to be mentioned with them when the great tight ends are discussed.

"Of course," Walker said. "That is the ultimate goal in the NFL. I don't play just to play. I play it to be the best, and I am glad I have good coaches and I'm in an offense to show my skills. If I can stay healthy, I will be on the right track to having a good year."

"But it is not really about me. If we would have won, I probably would have been all over ESPN 'SportsCenter', talking about me scoring and the speed I've got, but … I am more worried about us winning games."

We doubt linebacker, Vontaze Burfict plays, so let's look at the season-long pass coverage for linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and safeties Reggie Nelson and George Iloka -- we should point out that all three have covered a variety of players, from tight ends to receivers to running backs... or have just covered their respective zone schemes.

TARGETS REC. YDS AVG YAC TD INT PD RATING
Emmanuel Lamur 17 12 104 8.7 52 0 1 0 61.9
Reggie Nelson 6 4 22 5.5 12 1 0 1 112.5

George Iloka

5 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0.0