NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans gave Michael Griffin a big contract extension a year ago. Now they hope they've given him enough help so that he plays like a Pro Bowl safety once again.
The Titans shuffled Griffin back and forth between the safety positions last season, and he tied for the team lead with four interceptions. But the defense was one of the worst in the NFL, and Griffin struggled shifting between jobs.
So Tennessee signed veterans Bernard Pollard and George Wilson this offseason to make sure Griffin only has to worry about playing free safety.
And they've made it very clear to Griffin what they expect from him in 2013.
"Hopefully, we get Michael Griffin up to playing like Michael Griffin," Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said. "We expect a Pro Bowl player out of Michael, and he knows that. So that's why we surround him with Pollard and George Wilson. You know what? They're guys out there that are going to play at Pro Bowl levels, so we expect him to play at that Pro Bowl level. So get out there and get it done."
And Griffin has gotten it done in the NFL.
Since the Titans drafted him in the first round out of Texas in 2007, only Ed Reed (34) and Charles Woodson (30) have had more interceptions than Griffin at safety in that time. Griffin has 21, tying him with Oshiomogho Atogwe, currently with Philadelphia.
Griffin earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2008 when he tied for second in the NFL with seven interceptions. His second Pro Bowl came in 2010. Griffin has yet to miss a game in his first six seasons. It's why the Titans tagged him as their franchise player in 2012 before reaching agreement on a five-year extension worth up to $36 million exactly a year ago as they wrapped up the offseason.
But Griffin excels at free safety roaming the field.
Last season, the Titans moved him around after signing him to that new deal. Griffin started the first two games at strong safety as Tennessee started Robert Johnson at free safety. That experiment didn't last, and Griffin went back to his natural position with Jordan Babineaux returning to strong safety. Griffin finished second on the team with 103 tackles in a disappointing season all around for a team that allowed a franchise-worst 471 points.