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|NASHVILLE Womens Jared McCann Jersey , Tenn. (AP) — Mike Vrabel knows any improvement this year on defense for the Tennessee Titans starts with how they finish games.
Not giving up an average of 8 ½ points in the fourth quarter would be a big step forward.
“We’re going to do a better job of finishing games and understanding that’s when you have to be at your best is late in those games,” the Titans first-year coach said. “And whether it’s offensively there was a turnover or what you have you, but if you look at the numbers 8 ½ points in the fourth quarter.”
The Titans finished 9-7 last season, not good enough even with a playoff victory to save Mike Mularkey’s job . Getting the most out of quarterback Marcus Mariota prompted the coaching change, but the Titans have plenty of room for improvement on defense where Vrabel’s 14 years’ experience as a linebacker and four years as an assistant coach in the NFL should pay dividends.
Vrabel looked at what Tennessee did last season and liked how the Titans ranked fourth in the NFL against the run giving up just 88.8 yards per game. Yes, that’s something where he wants them to be better too. They also tied for fifth with 43 sacks. All-Pro safety Kevin Byard led the league with 10 total takeaways.
But the Titans finished 17th in points allowed, giving up an average of 21.7 points per game. Tennessee struggled in fourth quarters, giving up 138 fourth-quarter points.
“Just going out there and finishing the games,” cornerback Adoree Jackson said. “Some games we start off strong, sometimes in the second half points got put on us and it was a battle going through. For us, keep pushing, fighting and everyone says, ‘Keep the pedal to the metal.'”
Vrabel lured Dean Peas out of retirement to be his defensive coordinator Zdeno Chara Jersey , replacing Dick LeBeau. Peas quickly won over the Titans with his plans to switch up the defensive fronts with the possibility of flipping outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan to chase quarterbacks, and Orakpo loves what Peas wants to do.
“It’s attack-attack-attack,” Orakpo said. “That’s what it’s all about. You’re going to see all kinds of different packages. I’m not giving away nothing right now, but man, we’ve got a lot in store to free up a lot of guys, get some good matchups, flip-flop here and there, just all kinds of different things. I’m excited about this defense.”
The Titans also bolstered the defense by signing cornerback Malcolm Butler , who’s been installed as a starter opposite his former Patriots’ teammate Logan Ryan, and drafting linebackers Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry . Evans has missed most of the preseason with an undisclosed injury, but Landry has taken advantage of a shoulder injury sidelining Orakpo since the second day of training camp to get plenty of work.
Two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan has been giving Landry tips throughout the preseason. Morgan, who’s also been helping Landry, likes what he sees in how the Titans will be able to attack opponents.
“You always want to attack on defense and in an intelligent way Josh Norman Jersey ,” Morgan said. “We have a lot of different things that we can do schematic-wise. They do a good job of putting us in the right position to be successful.”
NOTES: Butler, Morgan and TE Delanie Walker did not practice for a fourth straight day with undisclosed injuries. Both missed last week’s game against Tampa Bay. Orakpo (shoulder), Evans, S Kendrick Lewis and WR Michael Campanaro also did not practice Thursday. WR Rishard Matthews ran routes and caught passes before practice, appearing closer to being removed from the physically unable to perform list.
A three-run sixth inning for the struggling Milwaukee Brewers against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw set up reliever Josh Hader’s return to the mound following an emotional week.
The embattled, contrite reliever received a warm ovation from the crowd. The Brewers finally ended up getting a win.
Christian Yelich’s tying homer off Kershaw opened the pivotal sixth, and Milwaukee stopped its seven-game losing streak by beating Los Angeles 4-2 on Saturday night.
”It was nice to snap that streak. I feel like you just need … one just to get some positive vibe back on the team,” Yelich said.
For Hader, it was his first appearance since the reliever’s racist and homophobic tweets surfaced during the All-Star Game. Hader, who has apologized for the years-old social media messages, was applauded by the crowd after being introduced before the top of the seventh, with many fans at Miller Park standing.
The left-hander fanned four over two innings, striking out the side in the eighth.
”It means a lot Bobby Massie Jersey , having the Milwaukee support, just knowing that they know my true character and just forgive me for my past, because that’s not who I am today,” Hader said.
Hader’s work highlighted five scoreless innings from the Milwaukee bullpen, though closer Corey Knebel provided a couple of nervous moments in the ninth.
Knebel allowed a two-out single to Logan Forsythe, bringing up the potential tying run in slugger Manny Machado.
Just the kind of big spot made for Machado, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles during the All-Star break. But Machado bounced out harmlessly to third to end the game, and Knebel got his 12th save.
The Brewers’ bats caught up to Kershaw in the sixth, when Yelich led off with a first-pitch homer for a 2-all tie. Another run scored on an error, and Keon Broxton added an RBI triple.
Kershaw (3-5) allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings, though only one was earned. He struck out five in taking his first loss since April 25, a span of eight starts.
”I pitched OK. I can think of two or three pitches I want back,” Kershaw said.
Chris Taylor drove in the Dodgers’ two runs with a bases-loaded single in the first.
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Milwaukee rookie Corbin Burnes (1-0) picked up his first major league win with two scoreless innings, bailing starter Chase Anderson out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the fifth. Kershaw was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch before Burnes struck out All-Star Matt Kemp and got cleanup hitter Max Muncy to fly out.
”It was a brilliant inning. It’s a tough inning to come into for just his third big league outing but he did a heck of a job,” manager Craig Counsell said.
It was an up-and-down night for the Dodgers on defense. Machado made a spectacular play at shortstop to hold the Brewers to one run in the sixth after they put runners on the corners with one out. Machado went deep into the hole to his right, took a couple of steps and threw off his back leg to first, with Cody Bellinger scooping the ball to just get the speedy Broxton.
Bellinger made a couple more good plays at first to prevent hits. But a run scored in the sixth when a high chopper by Manny Pina bounced under the glove of Muncy at third and into left field.
”We’ve got to be better for him,” Roberts said about the defensive lapse with Kershaw on the mound.
”Didn’t think I gave up a lot of hard contact tonight for the most part. There’s some good things in there, but you know, ultimately, we lost.” – Kershaw.
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner (upper right leg) is scheduled to return to the lineup Sunday. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
Brewers: OF-1B Ryan Braun went 1 for 3 and scored two runs in his return from a stint on the 10-day disabled list for a strained back. … OF-1B Eric Thames (right hamstring) is getting closer to returning after taking batting practice for a third straight day and running, Counsell said.
Dodgers: Start a left-hander for the third straight game, with Alex Wood (5-5) taking the hill for the first time after the All-Star break.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter (8-6) makes his first career start against the Dodgers.
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