NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Titans are talking a lot about lining up properly, communicating better and improved tackling to tighten up their defense.
Translated, they want to get back to the basics.
Tennessee ranks as one of the NFL's stingier defenses in most areas. But the Titans have lost five of six with too many mistakes defending the run where they've slumped to a tie for 20th giving up 117.1 yards per game. Get them inside the 20, they're one of the league's worst.
"We just really need to get back to what we were doing early in the season," linebacker Akeem Ayers said. "I think early in the season we just kept things simple, kept it basic and we communicated well. And that's the main thing we talked about just getting back to what we were doing early in the season because we believe it worked well for us."
The Titans (4-6) need to improve on defense heading to Oakland (4-6) on Sunday where the Raiders have been running the ball very well and even using the wildcat. The Raiders rank fourth in the NFL averaging 145.4 yards per game.
Tennessee let Indianapolis run on 10 of 11 plays to help seal a 30-27 win last week.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said Thursday they've got to make sure that doesn't happen again, and he said they need to rise up and make a play to give the ball back to the offense. He said the Titans have to make sure they're not thinking so much about rushing quarterbacks that they neglect stopping the run.
"That formula was working for the first six weeks," Gray said. "It's still working for good teams that understand ... We got to make sure we get back to making sure we're not pass rushing on run downs."
Tennessee stopped the run well through the first few weeks with middle linebacker Moise Fokou helping get everyone into the right alignment and gaps. But Fokou hurt his left knee Oct. 13 at Seattle and has missed the past four games. He practiced fully Thursday and hopes to return against the Raiders, though Fokou will be limited to possibly only 25 snaps at most.
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