Titans getting back into weekly routine

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 1:47am

The Tennessee Titans got a bit of good news on Monday as punter Craig Hentrich punted after having missed the game in New Orleans because of a back injury.

Hentrich has been undergoing tests and is still day-to-day regarding a return to action, but the fact that he was able to punt on Monday is an encouraging sign.

“All I can tell you right now is that he punted this morning. It will be day-to-day. He had a number of kicks, and he is feeling better,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

The Titans were forced to sign veteran punter Josh Miller before their 31-14 victory over the Saints, and he handled both the punting and holding chores, normally reserved for Hentrich.

Miller averaged 40.3 yards on three punts in the Monday night game, including a long punt of 52 yards.

“We’ll keep Josh until we make a decision that we think Craig can play,” Fisher said.

SLOW START: Fisher said tight end Ben Troupe’s slow start is a product of the fact that the team is only three games into its season. However, the former second-round pick has no receptions and has played only sparingly behind Bo Scaife and Ben Hartsock thus far this season.

Troupe had just 13 receptions all of last year before being shut down with a foot injury after 10 games. Troupe had a banner season with 55 catches in 2005.

“I think it’s just a matter of we’ve only played three weeks, the way the offense has gone, the emphasis on the run game, and the fact that he was hurt and missed quite a bit of camp,” Fisher said. “He only played in the final preseason game. It’s not because, as some people speculated, that he’s not in our plans or he can’t do it.

“It’s just that we’ve only played three games and he hasn’t had the opportunity. We’ll continue to work him in, and I would expect that hopefully in the next few weeks we’ll talk about how well he is playing.”

The battle for playing time could be even tougher now as tight end Casey Cramer, a mainstay of the Titans’ special teams units, has now recovered from knee and hamstring problems.

IMPROVING: The Atlanta Falcons, who visit LP Field on Sunday, cracked the win column for the first time on Sunday, knocking off the Houston Texans. The Falcons, who have had to endure the loss of quarterback Michael Vick and the fallout of his criminal accusations, have been resilient and are improving, according to Fisher.

“Their offensive output has improved every week,” Fisher said. “They’re a disciplined team – their penalties are down. ... They are a disciplined team. They run the football very well. [Quarterback Joey] Harrington is managing the offense very, very well. He’s making very good decisions.”

ZONED OUT: One of the target areas for improvement for the Titans is red zone efficiency, where the team has only five touchdowns and five field goals in 13 trips inside opponents’ 20-yard line.

“One thing that’s important is that we’re leaving some points off the board,” Fisher said. “When you get down in the plus territory, when you get down inside the 10-yard line or the 5-yard line, you need to get [touchdowns] rather than [field goals]. It’s okay in a winning effort if you don’t, but you still need to take advantage of your opportunities down there.”

Falcons (1-3) at Titans (2-1)

Sunday, noon

LP Field

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