- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Self-inflicted wounds or simple mistakes. Whatever the label, the Tennessee Titans have been hurting themselves far too often, and it’s why they have been embarrassed in three straight losses.

Wide receiver Nate Washington has a little advice for his teammates: Relax. Have some fun.

“I know a lot of people might hear that and think, ‘It’s not time to have fun’ …,” Washington said. “That’s when the plays come. That’s when the wins come when we’re out there having fun, flying around and everybody’s doing their job and making sure we take advantage of the opportunity we have.”

Washington said pressing to make a play can lead to mistakes by making things too tough.

There’s been plenty of blame to go around as well with passes going through receivers hands, six of seven turnovers off interceptions, offensive linemen failing to protect the quarterback enough, too many penalties and even being surprised by an early onside kick last week in a 41-17 loss at Indianapolis.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said his team makes good plays at times and look smart only to miss things at other times.

“We haven’t done enough of what we needed to do,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s Captain Obvious here, stating that. I think we have to just continue to keep our heads down and work. I know we’re working productively on the practice field. We’ve got to do a better job of it on game day.”

Outscored 100-34 in this skid, the Titans (1-3) hope to clean up their issues Sunday against the Cleveland Browns (1-2).

The confounding part of these struggles for Tennessee has been how the season started. The Titans went into Kansas City and won 26-10 in a game where they didn’t turn the ball over, came up with four sacks and intercepted three passes. That’s the same team that routed the New England Patriots 41-14 on Monday night.

“Seeing what they did to new England there just makes you realize that we did that to a pretty good football team,” Whisenhunt said. “We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot for lack of a better term in that game. Part of it is reinforcement of the fact if we do it right, we can be a good football team.”

The Titans are doing exactly what the coaches want in practice during the week. Carrying that into Sunday has been the issue. Tennessee has been outscored at the start of games 16-0 by Dallas, 19-0 in Cincinnati and 17-0 at Indianapolis.

Justin Hunter, a second-year wide receiver, had a long pass go through his hands against Dallas. Against the Colts, a pass went through his hands to Indianapolis safety Mike Adams. The Colts safety wound up with as many interceptions (two) in the game as Washington and Hunter combined for catches (two) despite the Titans wide receivers being targeted a total of nine times.

Kendall Wright set the tone on the Titans’ opening drive in Indianapolis, fumbling the ball as he dove forward for more yards and a first down. The ball popped out when he hit the ground, and the Colts recovered. He caught 94 balls for 1,079 yards last season and now has only 19 catches for 176.

“Me personally, I don’t really know how to relax,” Wright said. “Everything I do is full speed. If I mess up, I’m guaranteed to mess up at 100 mph or giving a lot of effort on making plays or making a specific play. That’s my mindset, and it gets me sometimes because my mindset is to try to score every time I touch the ball.”

Something good happening early Sunday might help the Titans snap out of this funk that has them near the bottom of several statistical categories.

“You don’t want to be a team that says you have to have something positive happen in order to play well, but that may be where we are right now,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve just got to work on playing fast and making a play.”

Notes: Jake Locker practiced fully Thursday, and Whisenshunt said he sees no reason why the quarterback won’t play Sunday. … DL Jurrell Casey (foot) and DE Ropati Pitoitua (knee) also practiced. TE Delanie Walker (shoulder) was limited, and TE Taylor Thompson (knee) and CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (concussion did not practice.

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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