A day after new Titan Stephen Gostkowski missed three field goals and an extra point, Titans coach Mike Vrabel gave his veteran kicker a modest endorsement.
Gostkowski, 36, signed with Tennessee the week before the regular season started and had plenty of rust coming off hip surgery with the four misses. He did redeem himself somewhat by making the game-winning 25-yard kick with 17 seconds left to beat the Denver Broncos. But it was 10 points left on the field that had the Titans trailing in the waning moments of the game in the first place.
“I think for a guy that's a career 87 percent field goal kicker, who's done it as long as he has, I think a lot of those corrections are going to be on him. But it's also going to be about us and the operation, and the ability for us to protect, and the ability to make everything around him better, and have a lot of faith and confidence in Stephen and moving forward,” Vrabel said Tuesday.
For his part, Gostkowski was a stand-up guy in answering questions after the game about his failures.
“Some of them I felt like I hit well. It’s just a frustrating thing. Maybe my timing was off a little bit,” Gostkowski said after the game. “I’ve been kicking pretty well, definitely a lot better than that. It’s a very fickle job and it’s an easy job when you’re doing good and a tough job when you’re doing bad. I’m just disappointed in myself that I couldn’t bounce back quicker. That’s usually something I pride myself on is on to the next kick. Letting one kick turn into two, obviously it just snowballed from there.”
Gostkowski missed from 47 and 42 yards and an extra point and had a 44-yard try blocked.
The Titans have rookie Tucker McCann on their practice squad, but likely would not go to him unless necessary.
Jadeveon Clowney was on the field for more 44 snaps in the Titans’ win over the Broncos. He had two tackles for loss early in the game, but as the game wore on, he appeared to be less effective.
Vrabel said Clowney – and the whole team for that matter – must improve its conditioning, something that no doubt was challenged by playing in the thin air of Denver.
Clowney, who signed with the Titans a week before the season started, played more than most probably expected. Clowney, Harold Landry and Kamalei Correa were the only outside linebackers active for Monday night's game.
“I think we all have to improve and play better. We all have to get in better shape, and we all have to improve and take the coaching and figure out how to operate and play better as a unit, whether that be on defense, special teams, or on offense. There's some plays that were good and some plays that we'd like to have back from pretty much everybody,” Vrabel said.
The Titans waived wide receiver Cody Hollister on Tuesday, leaving them with only four wide receivers and an open roster spot.
That leads to speculation that perhaps Tennessee is in the market for a veteran receiver whose contract would not be fully guaranteed now that the season has progressed past week one.
The Titans also released outside linebacker Jamal Davis from the practice squad, swapping him out for Tuzar Skipper.
Linebacker Rashaan Evans, who was ejected in the first quarter Monday night for throwing a punch at Denver tight end Jake Butt, will face some sort of discipline from the league.
Evans and the Titans have to hope that it is only a fine, rather than a suspension.
Vrabel said the Titans should know something relatively soon.
“I'll wait to hear from the league. I'm not sure. Again, I think we talked about it last night that those decisions cost the team and I know Rashaan knows better, and let the situation and emotions get the best of him. But I'm not sure what direction that the league will head, I'm sure we'll know shortly whatever that may be,” Vrabel said.