Titans want to 'be like vipers' with fumbles

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans had ugly fumble numbers in 2012.

The defense forced 15 fumbles and recovered only five.

The offense fumbled 21 times and lost 12.

Only the Colts and Rams had fewer takeaways by fumble.

It’s been a giant point of emphasis in the offseason and training camp.

“When you practice it and everybody is paying attention to getting the ball out, I think it’s going to change a whole lot,” defensive tackle Jurrell Casey said. “I do expect a lot of turnovers this year, and helping out offense with better field position."

Causing and recovering fumbles need to be first-nature, not second nature, Casey said.

Early in camp linebackers coach Chet Parlavecchio was central to some of the team’s work with regard to stripping and recovery technique. His group is obviously an important one in creating such takeaways.

He was so good on the subject, that I will not interrupt him here:

“Like anything else there is a technique to it. One of the great stats, and it’s always true, if you watch any fumble on the ground, most of the time, the ball will change hands two to three times. It’s uncanny. But it’s a fact. Therefore, you never give up on a loose ball. You’ve got to scrape and claw.

"Secondly, you’ve got to know whether to play the man or the ball. There are opportunities when you’ve got a partner with you where you play the man and let him play the ball. It’s awareness around the football, knowing your teammates are around you.

"Now, you get to the football, it’s protecting it properly. Get in the fetal position, make sure your knees protect the ball, make sure guys aren’t scrapping and clawing and get on your side.

"I’ll start, I’ll put their toes on the line and I’ll put the ball five yards away. The ability to extend, reach for the ball with two hands, suck it in, then bring your feet up, your knees up over it to protect that possession. That’s a reaction that has to happen in time and space. You reach out, boom, you grab it, you’ve got to close it. Because if you keep that door open or your legs stay extended, there are areas now to punch the ball out, and these guys are experts at it.

"Another decision process that goes into play: When do we scoop and when do we get on the ball? I don’t want a 350-pound nose guard scooping and running. Get on the ball. ... A major second change of possession is when a guy tries to scoop, he kicks it out of his own hands or someone comes in with a late strip and you lose the ball again.

"It’s just a matter of working on the technique and working on a relentless attitude that these are the things we’ve got to do to change football games, these are turnovers that are on the ground that we have to get. If we get half of those we didn’t get last year, who knows how many games are different?

“Like anything, it has to be drilled. It’s a culture that has to be in your mind, that anything on the ground, we’re going to be vipers -- wham. We’re going to get all over it and get bodies around it.”