- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey has made it clear that the Titans expect much more from the secondary this season.

The unit was so revamped this offseason that the secondary could feature three new starters from the 2016 season opener with veteran safety Da’Norris Searcy the lone holdover.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces back there,” Mularkey said Tuesday on the first day of a planned three-day minicamp. “We can do more things with our coverages with our secondary now.”

The Titans ranked ahead of just two teams against the pass, giving up an average of 269.2 yards per game. They also pulled in only 12 interceptions - tied for 18th in the league. Tennessee didn’t wait until the season ended to release cornerback Perrish Cox, who started the first five games last season. Veteran cornerback Jason McCourty, due $7 million, was released in April.

General manager Jon Robinson signed veteran Logan Ryan to a three-year deal. Ryan was fresh off winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. Robinson also brought in safety Johnathan Cyprien from Jacksonville with a four-year deal. Robinson used the Titans’ second draft pick at No. 18 overall on cornerback Adoree Jackson from Southern California.

Those defensive backs joined safety Kevin Byard, who started the final seven games, and cornerbacks LeShaun Sims and Kalan Reed, who were drafted in 2016. The returning players have the benefit this offseason of knowing defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s schemes and terminology, but Mularkey said the incoming veterans have picked up the system with the offseason program in its final week.

“Really you would not know they came from all different walks of life, Patriots system, a Jaguars system, USC,” Mularkey said. “You get guys that are all again first-time stepping out on the field and playing at a high level for us. Again a lot of that is the way they come to work. You can tell they’re doing something away from the field. You know they’re studying.”

The defense got the best of the offense Tuesday with players getting their hands on lots of balls.

Ryan, who had 13 interceptions at New England, said the fun part is getting to know all the personalities in the secondary and push each other. They’ve gotten comfortable enough to yell whenever someone messes up.

“We’re holding each other to a high standard,” Ryan said.

Byard said it’s easy to see the new comfort level by how quickly the new teammates have picked up what the Titans call different coverages and blitzes. That makes working together much easier on the field because less time is needed to communicate where each person needs to be in LeBeau’s schemes.

“Dick LeBeau’s going to work his magic regardless,” Ryan said. “You just got to have the right people in there. That’s what we’re trying to do, find those guys, get to know people and trust Coach LeBeau because he’s seen more games than all of us combined.”

Notes: Cyprien hurt an ankle, but Mularkey said he thought it was only a slight twist and had no other update after practice. … WR Tajae Sharpe has moved from a cast to a walking booth on his right foot after having surgery for a stress fracture. … RB DeMarco Murray did not practice after having a surgical procedure on his right ring finger recently.

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For more NFL coverage: https://www.pro32.ap.org and https://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL.

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


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