Most Titans' starting jobs shake out

Monday, September 3, 2007 at 4:31pm

Ryan Fowler has emerged as the Tennessee Titans new starting middle linebacker, coach Jeff Fisher announced Monday.

Fowler, who started three of the four preseason games, beat out Stephen Tulloch for the job.

With Lamont Thompson’s release handing Calvin Lowry the starting free safety job, the only undetermined spot left is at left cornerback where Cortland Finnegan and top draft pick Michael Griffin are in the running for that spot.

Fowler signed a three-year $11.5 million deal with the Titans this offseason.

“I spoke with both of them. It was a great race. They both played well. Stephen improved throughout the preseason and it was a hard call, but we feel like Ryan will give us a little more in the run game,” Fisher said. “Ryan, even though he doesn’t have the starts and the experience there, he is very instinctive and solid at the point of attack. He’s a lot like Pete [Sirmon] was before the [knee] injury.”

Fisher said the release of Thompson, a three-year starter, came down to the fact that the Titans wanted to keep six cornerbacks rather than five cornerbacks and five safeties among their 10 defensive backs.

“We felt like we were going to be able to keep 10 defensive backs. That was the number,” Fisher said. “The question is do you go five safeties, five corners. Cornerbacks are very difficult to find. We’re going to hang on to our cornerbacks. Really the simplest reason for releasing Lamont was for the other position — the corner position. When you release players that can help you, it doesn’t necessarily relate to the position they’re playing. The decision will be affected by another position. It’s a big picture issue.”

LONG GONE: Rien Long, who had arthroscopic knee surgery just before the end of the preseason, was waived/injured as the Titans placed him on injured reserve and the team will likely reach a settlement with him. Long missed all of 2005 with a torn Achilles tendon, then had knee surgery.

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