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Titans fill holes, find leaders

Suddenly it looked like 2006 for the Tennessee Titans.

Seven years ago, the Titans were in a mess on the field, in the locker room and in terms of experience. So they went out and signed Kevin Mawae, David Thornton, Chris Hope and David Givens in free agency to solve many of those issues.

Three of those four turned into solid performers for the Titans, while Givens' chances were wiped out by a career-ending knee injury.

Fast forward to 2013, and on Wednesday, the Titans were busy introducing four new free agents that they hope can provide same type of upgrade.

There is Andy Levitre, the prized left guard from the Buffalo Bills, that Ruston Webster and Mike Munchak believe can help stabilize the offensive line.
And Delanie Walker, who steps in for the departed Jared Cook tight end.
The Titans also found their complementary back to Chris Johnson, signing Shonn Greene away from the New York Jets.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans are excited about the addition of Sammie Lee Hill from the Detroit Lions. The massive defensive tackle should fit right into the line rotation in Tennessee.

There will likely be more focus on defense when the draft rolls around in April, though another free agent or two could come into play as well. Shortly after the press conference, the Titans did agree to a deal with linebacker Moise Fokou.

“It's a big day for us here at the Titans,” Webster said. “We've all worked very hard to put together a good group of free agents, and hopefully, this is just the start of it moving into the draft and moving forward for next year.”

Likewise, Munchak is excited that the Titans were able to accomplish so much so quickly in terms of filling holes in the roster.

“It's all about rebuilding the roster,” Munchak said. “We knew what our needs were, and how we could do it between fee agency and the draft to try and find the best blend of leadership that you can get from a veteran player and also from the draft.”

Levitre, according to Webster, was the key to the free agency haul, because it fixes much of the problems along the offensive line the past couple of seasons. He will move right in at left guard and help solidify what has been a trouble spot.
Levitre, who got a six-year, $46.8 million deal, said playing for Hall of Fame offensive linemen in Munchak and line coach Bruce Matthews was a big selling point for him.

“When it came down to making the decision every time we talked about free agency, the Titans came up. They were in it. I just feel like it's a really good fit for me, especially being able to be coached by two Hall of Fame linemen. You won't find that anywhere else in the league.”

In addition to Levitre, the Titans appear excited about Walker, who steps out of the second tight end role he had behind Vernon Davis in San Francisco, and into a bigger spot in Tennessee.

“I felt like they wanted to give me an opportunity to show what I can do in this league,” Walker said. “I like that they've given me an opportunity to be a playmaker, and I'm going to take advantage of it.”

Sensing that Cook, who agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Rams Tuesday for $35 million, didn't want to stay, the Titans decided to go in a different direction, and for roughly half the payday Cook received, they are banking on Walker to be their receiving tight end.

In landing Greene, the Titans have plans to go back to the one-two punch like they had when CJ was paired with LenDale White.

Greene, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Jets, is happy with the caddy role behind Johnson.

“I know this is CJ's backfield, and I'm just here, willing to help out and help this team get wins. So I'm really fine with that,” Greene said.

The primary defensive player added to the mix is Hill, who has been behind Ndamakong Suh and Nick Fairley for the past couple of years in Detroit.

Hill gives the Titans another big defensive tackle to put into the rotation, along the lines of Jurrell Casey. Hill, too, welcomes the opportunity for a bigger role and the chance to help the Titans.

“They've given me this opportunity to come in and play. I know exactly what they want me to do and I'm comfortable with that and I'm willing to do that,” Hill said.

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