Linebackers Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown have been regulars in the starting lineup for the Titans over the last few years, but there’s a new coach in charge of the team and Ken Whisenhunt is making sure that both players know the new regime needs to see more from them if they are going to continue in those roles.
Ayers struggled with problems in both knees last season, leading to diminished production on the field and a pair of surgeries this offseason. Whisenhunt said that the surgeries wouldn’t be an excuse for anything but Ayers’ best play because “guys do that all the time” and the coach said he wants to see Ayers translate his athleticism into productivity more consistently this season.
Whisenhunt is making a similar demand of Brown, whose speed helped him go in the second round of the 2012 draft. The coach says Brown looks fast, but that he doesn’t play that way and that needs to change.
“He looks fast on the field, but playing fast is something you have to do in this league,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s what he has to transition into. He didn’t play fast at times last year, and he’s getting pressure to do better with that this year.”
The Titans signed Wesley Woodyard and Shaun Phillips away from Denver as free agents, drafted Avery Williamson and added linebacker duties to the portfolios of Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, increasing the competition for snaps at the position a great deal. If those moves didn’t send the message that Ayers and Brown need to do more to keep their jobs, Whisenhunt made it pretty explicit.