Eugene Amano couldn’t help but notice as the Tennessee Titans paraded five free agent centers through Baptist Sports Park this off-season.
Four of those – Jeff Saturday, Chris Myers, Dan Koppen and Scott Wells – all said thanks, but no thanks to the Titans in free agency.
The fifth guy, Jeff Faine, won’t figure into Tennessee’s plans despite making a visit.
Instead, Amano will be fending off his backup from last year, Kevin Matthews, as he tries to hold on to the center spot he inherited from Kevin Mawae in 2010.
As for the parade of centers who came and went without signing, how will Amano react to the Titans’ attempt to create more competition for his starting job. He spoke to Coach Mike Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews about the situation.
“It’s part of the business. That’s just how it goes. I’ve been here long enough to know that it’s just part of it,” he said “I talked to them and all that. It’s all about getting the team better, and I understand that part. I’m still here and I expect to be the guy snapping the ball this fall. There’s always competition and you can’t get complacent in this league. The minute you do, you’re gone. You’ve just got to try to get better every day.”
Two years ago, Tennessee committed to Amano, making him a priority to keep among their free agents with a five-year, $26 million contract extension and shifting him from left guard to the middle of the line.
Last year especially with the Titans finishing 31st running the football and Chris Johnson struggling to his worst season, the interior of the offensive line took its share of the blame. Amano, Jake Scott and Leroy Harris were said to be culprits in the running game’s woes, along with CJ, who was coming off a holdout that cost him all of training camp and preseason.
“You just can’t really buy into that type of stuff. Fans and media are going to say that type of stuff when things aren’t going right,” Amano said. “And when things aren’t going right, they’re going to point the finger at somebody. But you just can’t take it personally. You’ve just got to keep getting better and keep moving forward and know that you’ve just got to get better.”
The Titans allowed Scott to explore free agency. Currently, both Amano (knee) and Harris (shoulder) are rehabbing injuries, opening the door for Matthews and Fernando Velasco to compete for starting spots.
While Harris needs more time to heal, Amano should be ready to resume practice next week, according to Munchak. Amano says he is getting close to coming back.
“I’ve been working hard trying to get ready, to get healthy enough and I’m slowly getting back into practice. It’s encouraging. I think I’ll be all right,” Amano said.