Titans hope CB can fill major hole with Jones' suspension Print
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Tuesday, 29 May 2007 22:56
NFL Headline News

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Nick Harper has had plenty of moments in his career when he personally hurt the Titans, none more painful than when he took a would-be touchdown away from then-Tennessee receiver Derrick Mason for an interception in 2004.
That play turned a Titans' fourth-quarter lead into a 31-17 loss to division rival Indianapolis. It led to a 5-11 season and the end of an era where Tennessee had been among the AFC's best.
Now three years later, Harper finds himself on the Titans' roster after the Colts allowed the veteran who helped them finally win the Super Bowl to leave as a free agent.
``We're going to have to overlook that part,'' Harper said of his past role as Titans' spoiler. ``That was down the road when I played for another team. Now I want to go out and make the same plays and make them for our team.''
The Titans are leaning heavily on the six-year veteran to anchor a secondary staggered by the loss of cornerback Adam ``Pacman'' Jones to a season-long suspension from the NFL for conduct detrimental to the league.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher doesn't sound worried that Harper played mostly zone in Indy's Cover 2 scheme.
``He's always been a guy that seems like he made a play against us at the right time in the game, so it's nice to have him obviously playing on our side now,'' Fisher said.
``He has excellent quickness, and he understands the game well. He sees things and he's been well coached in their scheme, but he's not one dimensional. They didn't do an awful lot on defense, yet he's capable of doing the things that we ask of him.''
Tennessee has five-year veteran Chris Hope, who won a Super Bowl ring himself in Pittsburgh. Another five-year veteran, safety Lamont Thompson, will be competing with Calvin Lowry, last year's fourth-round pick.
The Titans drafted Michael Griffin of Texas at No. 19 overall in April and are trying to convert the safety to cornerback. Reynaldo Hill, a seventh-round pick in 2005, has started 24 of 30 games at cornerback and is healthy again after playing with torn knee cartilage and ligaments last season.
The Colts let Harper leave as a free agent even though he tied the team record of three interceptions, ranked sixth with 73 tackles and started 15 games at left cornerback. The Titans signed him to a three-year deal in March.
``Them going out and getting me shows that they're dedicated to winning and bringing in guys that know how to win,'' Harper said. ``I'm hoping to go out and be a leader on the field and off the field and get the guys to buy into the defense.''
Hope sees Harper as a veteran who will help the young defensive backs learn how to study film more effectively, prepare physically and take care of their bodies.
``Those guys haven't had a proven veteran corner to teach them,'' Hope said.
Linebacker David Thornton played with Harper in Indy before signing with the Titans as a free agent last year. He thinks the addition could be a big move with Harper's understanding of the passing game.
``He's a proven winner. He's a champion. He's coming off a Super Bowl team,'' Thornton said.
Some teammates have had a hard time looking at Harper and believing he's really 32 years old. Harper's happy to share some of his secrets.
``It's easy. You've just got to get plenty of rest, stay out of the streets, just rest. Rest is the key. Your recuperation time is key,'' he said.
 

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