Titans frustrated after OT loss drops them to 3-5


Titans frustrated after OT loss drops them to 3-5

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Kenny Britt thinks the Titans could have thrown more passes deep. Tight end Jared Cook reportedly is upset enough that he wants a trade.

And Tennessee only had 10 defenders on the field not once, but twice, while giving up the tying touchdown drive.

The Titans are not happy, and coach Mike Munchak hopes they're all frustrated at being 3-5 after a 19-13 overtime loss to Indianapolis because they all can do more.

``You're 3-5, that's not good enough, and that includes every one of us,'' Munchak said. ``Frustration, it means work your way through it, and let's find a way to turn this around and get to 5-5. So I think that's more where the frustration should be used. Find a way to become a better player and a better team.''

Munchak also downplayed the report of Cook wanting a trade, saying he didn't know anything about it and wouldn't comment. He noted Cook is their second-leading receiver, tied with Nate Washington with 28 catches, and someone they need to win.

``This is not the time for those things,'' Munchak said.

With nine AFC teams between 4-3 and 3-5 not counting division leaders, the Titans still have hope at the midpoint of the season. But they must fix their struggling defense that not even a two-game winning streak could disguise. They are young and have a no margin for error.

The Titans had just 10 defenders on the field during the Colts' 80-yard drive to tie it at 13 with 3:24 left. Munchak noticed the problem on fourth-and-1 at the Titans 8 and couldn't get a timeout called before they gave up a 7-yard run. The coach said it happened a second time during that drive, too.

Asked if that was something the players should have noticed first, Munchak said, ``You would hope so.''

The Titans ran only 59 offensive plays. The Colts had 76 and rolled up 457 yards counting the 80-yard drive for the winning TD in overtime. But Tennessee won its previous two games by making key plays late, and thought it recovered a fumble to set up a winning field goal with 26 seconds left in regulation Sunday.

Officials called forward progress being stopped on Dwayne Allen when Colin McCarthy was tackling him, even though the Allen had not gone backward when linebacker Akeem Ayers stripped the ball. Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner recovered at the Indianapolis 28, and Tennessee started celebrating.

Munchak said that will be among the plays the Titans send to the NFL, along with an offensive pass interference that wiped out a touchdown. Verner said he didn't understand the rule, but that it wouldn't do him any good to look it up now.

``We all still feel it's a fumble,'' Verner said. ``That's the call they made, and we have to live with it.''

Of course, Colts interim coach Bruce Arians thought officials made ``a dang good call'' and said he heard a whistle stopping the play.

``You'd have felt terrible had we lost the game there,'' Arians said.

Britt said they knew going into the game that the crew headed by referee Al Riveron called the most offensive penalties in the NFL last season and he should have been smarter. But he was flagged for two pass interferences in the first half. Britt also wanted more deep passes with Colts cornerback Vontae Davis spraining his left knee on the opening drive.

``Everybody's just anxious to get back out there and do their job and ready to get this turned around ...'' Britt said. ``Everybody's frustrated at losing a close game like that. All the games we won so far were overtime or close games. ... We believe we could've made it happen.''

The Titans now have to get over it quickly with Chicago (6-1) visiting Sunday.

Veteran Matt Hasselbeck will start his fifth straight game while the Titans wait for Jake Locker's shoulder to heal enough that doctors clear him to return to full practice. Locker dislocated his left, non-throwing shoulder for the second time in four games on Sept. 30, breaking a piece of bone in the front of the shoulder.

The Titans visit Miami on Nov. 11 before their bye week, so they might give Locker that time to further heal.

``We're not making decisions too far out,'' Munchak said. ``It's more just a day-to-day thing now.''

NOTES: Munchak said left tackle Michael Roos will practice this week after snapping his 119-game consecutive starts streak against the Colts due to an appendectomy last week. ... The Titans were waiting to see what an MRI exam on right guard Leroy Harris' right knee found after he was hurt on the opening drive and missed the rest of the game. ... Munchak said he expects right tackle David Stewart might miss some practice but should be ready against the Bears.


AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.


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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.


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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did


Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball. More will be known about him once he plays for their summer league team in July.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.


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