Mike Mularkey strips Taylor Lewan of captaincy, adds Dexter McCluster

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ken Whisenhunt appointed six team captains on the Tennessee Titans before being fired.

Before the team played its first game under Mike Mularkey, the interim coach made a switch.

Mularkey took one of the C's away from second-year left tackle Taylor Lewan and gave it to veteran running back Dexter McCluster.

“A lot of that was my decision, based on experience,” Mularkey said. “Taylor hadn’t started a full season yet and I thought Dexter had earned that right with his play since he’s been here. Taylor took it extremely well -- probably his best week of work, didn’t let it be a distraction. I just made a decision I thought was best for our team based on what guys have done over a longer period of time.

I missed McCluster if he was in the locker room during media availability Wednesday. Lewan was on the move trying to get somewhere and said he’ll chat Thursday.

The other captains are tight end Delanie Walker, outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, cornerback Jason McCourty and linebacker/special teamer Wesley Woodyard.

The switch is a bold move by Mularkey, who showed he isn’t worried about taking away status from a first-round pick and a player the Titans really need to blossom.

“I’m sure it bruised his ego, it does anybody who is a competitor,” Mularkey said. “It did not show up on the field. I told him, ‘You’ll be a captain here for a long, long time. This is just a decision I thought was best from my eyes for our team.”

Mularkey considered quarterback Marcus Mariota but said it would be hard to pull the title from Lewan because of inexperience and then give it to a rookie.

I think being one of the team's best players should also be a prerequisite for being a captain.

Mariota is one of the Titans' best players already. McCluster is a situational player, who Mularkey pointed to for making one of the team's foolish errors Sunday in New Orleans when he bobbled a kickoff and tried to return it anyway.

McCluster “has no fear, is tough, he doesn’t complain,” Mularkey said.

“He’s what we are trying to be around here, and that is not saying Taylor Lewan is not that,” Mularkey said. “He just hasn’t done it as much as Dexter has.”