Fisher to call NFL on Falcons' blocks
Titans Coach Jeff Fisher took issue with some of the blocking by Atlanta's offensive line Friday night and said yesterday he will complain to the NFL.
"I've been around a lot of preseason games and never seen some of the things I saw out of their offensive line. I'm disappointed and I am going to call the league," Fisher said yesterday. "There are a couple things where player safety was really brought into question and I want to make sure the league is aware of it."
Third-year guard Austin King was the culprit on the play Fisher disliked most during his team's 24-21 victory.
On Rocky Boiman's fourth-quarter interception, King hit defensive end Antwan Odom low and away from the play, but the Titans were whistled for a 15-yard personal foul on the return.
The officials called the penalty on the Titans No. 66 (Joe Minucci) instead of Falcons No. 66 (King).
"Totally, totally unnecessary, the kind of thing we showed on the tape from a rules standpoint on player safety," Fisher said. "Blatant intent to hurt one of our defensive linemen, yet somehow the official on the spot got it wrong and he penalized us."
Asked if he spoke to Falcons Coach Jim Mora, Fisher said no.
"Coach Mora is not coaching that," Fisher said. "He's not coaching the offensive line."
Alex Gibbs is the offensive line consultant who implements the blocking schemes, which often put a premium on cut blocks.
Fisher said the Titans defensive front consistently put good pressure on Atlanta quarterbacks Michael Vick and Matt Schaub. Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch had two sacks, and safety Donnie Nickey had one on a blitz.
"We forced a lot of hold situations," Fisher said. "Two or three were called and they could have called another five or six."
Getting quick: Fisher said receiver Brandon Jones' 29-yard catch and run on a third-and-four from the Atlanta 30 was an example of the quick-hitting plays the offense is looking for under new coordinator Norm Chow.
Quarterback Billy Volek was subject to a blitz and hit Jones almost immediately, allowing the receiver to do the rest of the work.
"We did that a number of times," Fisher said. "They brought a lot of pressure and we got rid of the ball."
Chow used more of the playbook in Atlanta, using a lot of three-wide receiver formations and motioning into an empty backfield a few times with running back Chris Brown and tight end Bo Scaife assuming the widest spots on the line.
"We did a lot," quarterback Steve McNair said. "We did a lot of shifting, we did a lot of personnel grouping, and I think that's something that keeps (the defense) off balance. They didn't know what we were going to do.
"We'll spread them out, we'll bunch them up. We'll put three tight ends in or four wides. I think that's something that's going to be hard for a defense to adjust to."
Injuries: Fisher said the injuries suffered in Atlanta were not serious.
Nickey may be slowed with a foot problem, tight end Gregg Guenther is coming off a mild concussion, and Jones has a sore left shoulder.
Fisher expects fullback Troy Fleming (ankle) to practice today. He said defensive tackle Rien Long is running after a recent scope on his right knee, will practice this week and play in San Francisco on Friday night.
Running back Travis Henry, who didn't play in Atlanta because of a bothersome toe on his left foot, got a good review from Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C. Henry could be back in action this week.
Fisher said tight end Ben Troupe, who's rehabilitating after surgery to repair a fifth metatarsal fracture in his left foot, could be ready to play in the preseason finale on Sept. 1.
Three players coming off knee surgeries — safety Tank Williams, receiver Tyrone Calico and offensive lineman Jacob Bell — will all make their preseason debuts Friday night at San Francisco.
Applause: Fisher was rough on struggling kickers Rob Bironas and Ola Kimrin and said more than one player botched his assignment on Atlanta's 101-yard kickoff return.
But he praised rookie kickoff returner Courtney Roby, who returned two for 28 yards and through two preseason games is averaging 17.8 yards per return.
"I believe he's doing a nice job as a returner, he's understanding the subtleties of receiving a kickoff," Fisher said. "He caught everything moving forward, hit the crease and did everything you are supposed to do."
No guarantee: Fisher said he couldn't be certain that first-round pick Pacman Jones will be with the team at this afternoon's practice because there is still much paperwork to conclude his contact.
Once Jones is on the field, Fisher said he expected the rookie's initial work on defense to come as a second-team cornerback. Jones will immediately step to the front of the line for punt returns.
Fisher said Jones will likely play corner in the latter part of Friday's game at San Francisco.
"It's important he get quality reps in the preseason," Fisher said.
More man: Fisher said Titans cornerbacks played more man-to-man coverage against the Falcons, but there isn't too much for coaches to evaluate because the offense held the ball for 43 minutes.
Fisher said cornerback Andre Woolfolk may have been too concerned with Brian Finneran and not concerned enough with the ball on Vick's fade pass for a first-drive TD.
"They put us in a whole lot more man-to-man situations," Woolfolk said. "I would have liked to come out on top on that fade that they threw."