Titans quarterback Steve McNair is throwing a lot of passes to his tight ends this year. In fact, tight end Erron Kinney leads the team in receptions with 53.
Why are so many balls going to tight ends? Well, Tennessee's young receivers are having such a problem getting open and adapting to coverages that McNair is having to check down more and more often. As a result, the two tight-end set has been the main look for the Titans offense in 2005. However, that could change this week.
If Colts cornerback Nick Harper misses the game (currently listed as questionable on the injury report), Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher might opt for more three-receiver sets in order to get both rookie cornerbacks Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden on the field.
At various points in the game on Sunday, the responsibility of slowing down Kinney will fall on strong safety Mike Doss. Doss's strengths in pass coverage are much more tailored to defending tight ends or helping with receivers going over the middle -- not over-the-top help on a speed receiver or deep threat. Doss has trouble turning and moving with receivers and
can be beaten deep, so putting him in the box with an eye on a tight end is probably the smartest option.
Doss shows a nice burst while the ball is in the air, and the 2nd-gear needed to play from center field. He also breaks forward and hits with enought authority to separate the ball from the receiver.
Tight end Erron Kinney is in the midst of his best professional season. Kinney's size presents a mismatch possibility for the Titans. He knows how to use his size and strength to his advantage. Kinney is not going to speed by many linebackers or defensive backs, but he will use his body to get separation from receivers. When you tackle him you better wrap up, because he will break through tackles and shrug you off.
His size makes him such a huge target. And he has good hands. So he's an excellent short to intermediate range receiver. Kinney is also a solid overall blocker. So another thing the Titans like to do with him is have him stay back and help an offensive tackle block before peeling off for a pass. Doss will have to be a bit wary of this on Sunday.
Kinney is going to catch some passes on Sunday. The Titans offense is just designed that way. The key here is for Doss to be right there when he does, ready to pounce and deliver a jarring blow that stops Kinney in his tracks.
Mike Doss versus Erron Kinney
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