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Titans' defense being gashed both by pass, run

Associated Press Modified: September 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm •  Published: September 20, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — If the Tennessee Titans aren't careful they're going to get a reputation as a big-play defense. The kind offenses love to attack.

Only two NFL teams have allowed more points than Tennessee through two games, and the Titans already have given up 32 big plays of 10 yards or more in their winless start. It's made reviewing game film a bit like a horror show for the defense.

"It's very tough, and that's always a bad thing when you come up to film, especially when you already know," Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner said. "Then to see it makes you not want to have that feeling again. It makes you step up and practice that much harder so it won't happen again next week."

The Titans (0-2) have been sliced up first by Tom Brady and then Philip Rivers. Next up is Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions (1-1) on Sunday.

Cornerback Jason McCourty called the number of big plays just terrible, though pinning down just one issue is challenging.

"At times, it's communication," McCourty said. "At times, one-on-one we may just get beat, a guy misses a tackle or a guy doesn't do a good job in coverage. It's a combination of things, and it's kind of not being on synch. It's a matter of knowing what the problem is and correcting it."

The Titans came into this season expecting a stingier defense after their first year with Jerry Gray as defensive coordinator. They gave up yards in 2011, tying for 18th in total yards allowing 355.1 yards per game. But they were stingy on points, ranking eighth giving up 19.1 points per game.

Gone from that defense are cornerback Cortland Finnegan, now in St. Louis, along with ends Jason Jones and William Hayes and safety Chris Hope. This youthful unit features eight starters currently in their fourth season or younger with tackle Jurrell Casey, linebackers Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy and free safety Robert Johnson in their second years.

McCarthy, a defensive captain and the middle linebacker, sprained his right ankle in the first half of the opener and hasn't been on the field for the exception of a few plays when he tried to test his ankle against New England. That is why rookie Zach Brown got his first start in last week's 38-10 loss to San Diego.

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