Titans rushing Wimbley into new defensive spot
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 7:00 pm
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE (AP) — Kamerion Wimbley is settling in very fast at his new defensive end position in Tennessee where the Titans are counting on him to boost what had been one of the NFL’s worst pass rushes last year.
It’s a bit of a position switch for the man who played linebacker in Oakland. But then again, he’s had a lot of changes to deal with this offseason.
The Raiders cut him in March a year into a five-year, $48 million deal rather than rework the contract. While most of the NFL watched Peyton Manning being wooed, the Titans moved quickly after being turned down by the four-time MVP quarterback and signed Wimbley.
“It was an easy decision for me after meeting with the coaches,” Wimbley said Tuesday after the latest organized team activity. “I like the players that they had here, they’ve got a lot of young talent. I think there can be many good years here.”
That’s what Wimbley thought after Cleveland, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2006, traded him to Oakland before the 2010 season.
The Raiders gave him that big contract in 2011 to avoid a $11.3 million franchise tender. With a new general manager hired after the season, the Raiders cut him rather than pay $13 million in guaranteed money.
“I think I could see it coming as far as with the cap issues, and I felt like we had opportunity to try to work something out and nothing got done,” Wimbley said. “I like being out there, and I appreciate the opportunity that Al Davis gave me to play for that organization. It just didn’t work out.”
The Titans missed out on Mario Williams after owner Bud Adams wanted to try to land Manning with the defensive end choosing to sign with Buffalo.
The day Manning told the Titans he was choosing Denver, they brought in Wimbley even though he had played outside linebacker for the Raiders. Wimbley also has played defensive end in a 4-3 scheme as well. General manager Ruston Webster remembered Wimbley well when he played in college at Florida State.
Tennessee quickly signed Wimbley to a five-year, $35 million deal with $13.5 million guaranteed.
Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said Tuesday that everyone was ecstatic to land Wimbley to create more pressure and competition along with Leger Douzable, another offseason signing, along with Pannel Egboh, a free agent out of Stanford in 2010 who spent last season on the practice squad. There’s also Derrick Morgan, the first-round pick in 2010.
“It’s not, ‘hey this is your job and guys get comfortable.’ We’ve created competition,” Rocker said. “Once you create competition, your players start standing up and fighting for what they really want. It’s been great having Wimbley here. It helps. Morgan gets to see what a pro actually looks like with how he approaches practice and does things.”
The Titans are determined to boost a pass rush that ranked next to last in the NFL last season with 28 sacks. That’s why coach Mike Munchak also added Keith Millard, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, as a defensive assistant focused on the pass rush who has spent plenty of time working with players on their individual technique early in the offseason program.
That’s where Wimbley comes in. He’s been working at right end, but the Titans love his versatility and have moved him around a lot. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Wimbley has 42 1/2 sacks in his first six NFL seasons with 16 of those in his last two seasons in Oakland. Four of his seven sacks in 2011 came against San Diego, a team Tennessee visits in the second week of the season.
“Sacks have been a major part of what I’ve done and to be able to go back to playing defensive end and have more opportunities to get to the quarterback is something I enjoy,” Wimbley said. “And I really liked that all the coaches and staff here were excited about having me come here and helping out their pass rush.”
Only defensive tackle Shaun Smith has been in the NFL longer than Wimbley, making him one of the oldest veterans on the defense. Wimbley said that’s fine because he’s young at heart and is only 28.
“Definitely, I feel that we have every opportunity to make it into the postseason and have an opportunity to play for a championship,” Wimbley said. “I think that’s everybody’s ultimate goal.”
Notes: The Titans released veteran TE Daniel Graham on Tuesday before their latest OTA. The Titans signed the 10-year veteran last year, and he wound up catching two passes for 25 yards. … Coach Mike Munchak said they didn’t run the ball as much as they expected in 2011. Combined with the Titans drafting a tight end in Taylor Thompson and signing Brandon Barden as a free agent, Munchak said they wanted to give Graham a chance to move on to another team.
Published in The Messenger 6.14.12