Kearse: Titans' defense reminds him of '99 Print
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Sunday, 27 July 2008 13:50
NFL Headline News

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Vince Young looked up Sunday and found himself surrounded by Kyle Vanden Bosch, Albert Haynesworth and Jevon Kearse. Nowhere to run, no time to duck.
Ouch.
Luckily, Young wore the red jersey, which means don't touch the quarterback.
It's only the opening days of training camp, but the Tennessee Titans see the chance to be even better on defense than a year ago, when they ranked fifth in the NFL in yards allowed and yards rushing allowed.
Kearse, who is trying to revive his career in his 10th season, sees a group that could rival the defenses Tennessee had in 1999 and 2000 when the Titans went 26-6.
``It's one thing talking about it,'' Kearse said. ``Until you get on the field and be about it, that's another thing.''
The Titans fed off embarrassment a year ago, upset at giving up more yards than any other defense in 2006. The emotion they're dealing with now is complacency, which they are fighting by trying to set their sights higher. Being among the best is not good enough now.
Haynesworth, coming off his first All-Pro season, said linebacker Keith Bulluck wants the Titans to be No. 1. It's a goal he embraces as well.
``We've got four more spots we got to move up. We went up (27) spots the year before that. Now it's time to go up four more and be the No. 1 defense,'' Haynesworth said.
The Titans haven't had the NFL's top-rated defense since 2000, but they go into this season with the most talent and depth since that year, even with the free agent losses of ends Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy. Vanden Bosch, who had a team-high 12 sacks and 24 quarterback pressures, is ready to remind them to stay hungry.
``We can't think we're going to go out there, show up and have a dominating defense. We have to get better, and it's important we still stay hungry and we're a fast, aggressive defense like last year,'' Vanden Bosch said.
That attitude was a big key to the Titans' dramatic turnaround. They chased quarterbacks with such intensity that at times it was like watching a pack of dogs running down a steak, coming up with 40 sacks and forcing opponents to abandon the run early by allowing 92.4 yards rushing per game.
That combination, with Haynesworth at times dominating the middle of the line, helped the defense pick off 22 passes, tied with Indianapolis for second behind San Diego. And only Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Tampa allowed fewer first downs than Tennessee.
Coach Jeff Fisher said he believes the defense can be better. He noted at least eight 2-minute drives that the defense was involved in, games so close one big play turned a win into a loss for a team that went 10-6.
``You can pull some satisfaction out of what happened last year,'' Fisher said. ``To me and to them, it's not good enough. You have to do better. You have to win games. ... We're trying to get better so we don't wind up in those types of games.''
 

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