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Keith ‘voices’ defensive concerns

Keith ‘voices’ defensive concerns
Already a wearer of many hats in the Tennessee Titans organization, Mike Keith was asked to put on his mythical general manager’s cap on the eve of tonight’s National Football League draft.
“Defense makes the most sense,” the Titans’ popular play-by-play man said Wednesday when asked whom the team might pick tonight with the 16th overall pick in the first round.
“We have the most needs on defense. We lost two defensive ends (Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse) in the offseason, and there are two or three players at that position out there that fit our needs.”
Widely-considered the team’s goodwill ambassador, Keith — in Martin Wednesday as part of the Titans’ annual caravan through the Mid-South — spoke at length on the draft and variety of other team subjects.
• On whether Tennessee addresses what appears to be an obvious need at defensive end or drafts the best available player — regardless of position — in tonight’s first round.
“We’ve done both in the past,” he said. “I think you have to take into consideration what players are available.
“Even though we appear to be in the market for a defensive lineman, what if (speedy Clemson running back and return specialist) C.J. Spiller falls to No. 16? What if somehow an (Tennessee safety) Eric Berry is there? You have to consider those things.”
• On the progress of quarterback Vince Young, who was inserted into the starting lineup after last season’s 0-6 start and was under center for wins in eight wins in 10 games to end the season.
“Vince has to prove he can do that for a whole year,” Keith said. “His work ethic and mindset are good, and he’s taken things more seriously in the offseason this year, trying to get better at a number of different things, including being a leader. A lot of that is just simple maturity.
“It’s only the second week of April, but I love where he is right now.”
• On last season when the Titans began the year with six straight losses, then rebounded to win eight of their final 10 games for a break-even finish:
“We were a true 8-8 team. We weren’t good enough to beat Indianapolis and San Diego — the two really good teams that beat us at the end of the season,” he said.
Keith insisted he has embraced his multi-faceted role within the Titan organization that saw him spend 107 days last year representing the team in some capacity that includes his distinctive radio calls of the team’s games.
“I like getting out and spending time with the fans and being a part of different activities and events as representation of the club,” he said. “The Titans take that responsibility very seriously, and it’s critical because we draw so many fans regionally.
“Nashville has only about a million-and-a-half people, and we can go three hours in any direction from there and reach 12 million people total. That’s critical to our base.”
And that’s a lot of Titan hats.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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