A day later, the talk regarding the Dallas Cowboys new billion dollar stadium still centered on the punt from Tennessee Titans rookie A.J. Trapasso that hit the 60-yard long video screen that hangs above the playing surface, forcing a “do-over” on the kick.
It was something Titans coach Jeff Fisher says the NFL will have to address and something his punters warned him of when he first stepped onto the field at the new facility Friday night.
“When I walked out for the first time Craig [Hentrich] was standing there. Craig said, ‘How high is the bubble?’ I said, ‘I’m not quite sure. I think it’s about 85 feet or something like that.’ He says, ‘There’s going to be a problem here.’ I think he hit it the first three times he punted the ball.”
Hentrich’s punts routinely scrape the top of the Titans practice bubble as he practices kicks for hang time.
Trapasso said it could be an issue for punters in that stadium this season.
“We were peppering that thing (the scoreboard) during warm-ups. Mind you, they are good kicks that are going up there and hitting it,” the rookie from Ohio State said. “It’s nothing that is going to happen every time. But it’s there and it’s got to be addressed. I don’t know how much further up it can go, but it’s in the way.
“We were guessing about a 4.8 hangtime punt would be getting up close. It’s doable for the guys in this league. It’s something that’s going to be an issue.”
While Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and team officials tried to blow it off as an intentional try on behalf of Trapasso to hit the Jumbotron, Fisher joked that the rookie thought he might get a prize for hitting it.
“It’s something the league will look at, my opinion doesn’t matter. The only issue I have to deal with is Trapasso thought he was going to get a roundtrip ticket to Hawaii for two if he hit the board,” Fisher said.
The coach turned more serious on the matter, though when saying it is something that must be corrected, likely by raising it higher than it is now. Having to do plays over could lead to a lesser punt, players being more tired or even furthering injury risk.
Fisher also said teams won’t want to have to use valuable replay challenges if officials don’t see the ball hit the structure.
“Replay was not designed for those types of things. As a coach I certainly don’t want to be forced to use a challenge for that because your challenge opportunities, there’s a premium on those,” Fisher said. “You get the first two right and you get a third. That just was not designed to fall under that replay envelope. Then you have other situations involved too because there’s different strategic kicks and things like that that can be affected.”
Fisher reiterated his disappointment in receiver Chris Davis getting a DUI while the team was in Dallas and he was in Nashville not making the trip because of a hamstring injury.
Fisher declined to speculate on Davis’ roster spot being in further jeopardy because of the incident, only saying he was disappointed in the receiver’s decision.
“We’re disappointed and we haven’t come to any conclusions yet. He has got to deal with the legal process but we are very disappointed in his decision,” Fisher said, adding that Davis won’t play Saturday night at Cleveland because of the hamstring problem.
Best laid plans
The Titans might have cut training camp a couple of days short of Wednesday’s scheduled break day, had they been able to have five or less penalties Friday night against the Cowboys.
The Titans had seven penalties. Linebacker Keith Bulluck announced the five-penalty plan Fisher laid out via his Twitter account.
“We would’ve given them a couple evenings off, yes. The over-under was five,” Fisher confirmed. “We had seven, but there were four or five that were declined. They didn’t have a chance and I knew it.”
Despite a running game that contributed just 51 yards on 16 attempts Friday night and struggled for consistency for the third straight preseason game, Fisher said he isn’t worried about the rushing attack getting on track.
“The numbers speak for themselves, but I’m not concerned about it because basically we have the same people doing what we did last year and we were effective,” Fisher said. “I think with some tweaks and things like that and some of the schematic things, we will improve.”
He said he would only become concerned if such struggles carried over into the regular season.
Other than rookie Javon Ringer who has 98 yards on 16 rushes, no other Titan is averaging more than three yards per carry.
Lost it in the HD?
One pass after Vince Young underthrew Kenny Britt on a deep pass, he lofted one that sailed over the head of rookie Dominique Edison who appeared to stop his route on what looked like could have been a long completion.
The reason Edison peeled off, according to Fisher, is that he did not see the football in flight.
“He didn’t see the ball. He never tracked the ball at all,” Fisher said.
Asked if the video board distracted him, Fisher said, “He may have been watching a commercial.”