Our long national nightmare is over. The Braves have won on a Monday.
I went on record last week, saying that I thought the Braves would go oh-for-Monday this season (and what an incredible reverse jinx that turned out to be; you’re welcome everybody). Between fan panic – I expected the club to announce it would dub every Monday for the rest of the season to be ‘Prozac Night’ – and the pressure the players seemed to be putting on themselves, I was prepared to craft the same columns of thinly-veiled sarcasm right through October.
Not today. Thanks to a pair of unlikely rabbit’s feet, the Braves didn’t just beat the Marlins on Monday night, they destroyed the Fish with impunity. Tommy Hanson picked up his 12th victory and Jason Heyward homered and scored three times in an 8-2 victory that really wasn’t even that close.
And what, you may ask, sparked a difference in this Monday against the previous 16? Uh, that would be a Chipper Jones twitter account and high socks.
Following last Monday’s loss, 40-year old Chipper Jones decided to hop on Twitter (@RealCJ10, for those scoring at home), teaching us the definition of words like ‘yicketty’ and ‘mammo’. I believe those are home run distances, although I am not fluent in Chipperish. In addition, the account sparked a six-game win streak. The Grand Old Man in the Atlanta clubhouse may not be the most affluent Tweeter, but a win streak is a win streak.
If that wasn’t enough, last night the entire starting line-up (sans Hanson, who said he didn’t get the memo until he was walking on the field) went for the old-school high socks look. Although it was not a good look for some – in particular, Freddie Freeman has the calves of an Olympic weightlifter – it’s hard to argue with the results. Considering almost a calendar year had passed since the Braves last Monday victory, they could’ve skipped the second-inning warm-up and had a five-minute tea party, so long as it brought about a win.
I don’t know if the guys in the Atlanta clubhouse believe in superstition, voodoo and jinxes but it’s clear that something has happened in the last week that loosened this club up. The business-like manner the club has represented for decades is still in place, but with it seems to be a new sense of calm and ease in the dugout. Watching last night’s game, I didn’t notice nearly as many nervous looks in the dugout as previous Monday’s featured.
Deal or No Deal
Last night, the Braves also (hopefully) solved their pitching and right-handed bat off the bench conundrums, fetching Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson for Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. It’s hard to imagine a better deal for the Braves, who didn’t part with any of the Mike Minor/Randall Delgado/Julio Teheran group to obtain Maholm, who is 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA in his last seven starts.
The rotation going forward will feature Hanson, Maholm, Tim Hudson, Ben Sheets and Minor, unless the latter reverts back to his gopherball-inducing form and Kris Medlen has to step in. While Medlen has been excellent in the bullpen this year (to the point that I think Fredi should scrap this ridiculous notion that he should be in the rotation and embrace the set-up role), the Braves will eventually have to fish or cut bait on whether or not Medlen will eventually be a starter.
I’m excited for Maholm, who I anointed this year’s Doug Fister in a column a few weeks ago; I still believe that, even more so in the sense that he doesn’t have to come in and immediately become the number two starter like Fister did for Detroit last season.
Johnson’s arrival most likely spells the end for Matt Diaz in Atlanta. A stalwart in the Braves organization for much of the 2000s, Diaz is hitting just .222 this year and has seen a significant loss of bat speed in that time. Johnson can play all three outfield spots and has a bit of speed, representing a significant upgrade on Diaz.
Weekend in Review
Sweeping the Phillies may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in the City of Brotherly Love. Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino were both dealt at the trade deadline (Victorino to the Dodgers, Pence to the Giants), signaling that Philly is both waving the white flag on this year and building toward the future starting right now. I couldn’t be more delighted that a Braves sweep may have been what set all this in motion.
Three more with Miami take the Braves into a weekend against the Happ-less Astros (both because they suck and because they traded J.A. Happ to Toronto). Atlanta is now 7-2 against Miami this year, and both losses occurred before the Flailing Fishies moved Hanley Ramirez for a big bag of nothing. Now at 23-16 against the NL East this year, Atlanta’s ability to beat divisional opponents will be a huge factor down the stretch.
Atlanta has not faced Houston since the season’s second week, when they lost to Happ (no longer on the team) and beat Kyle Weiland (languishing on the 60-Day disabled list) and Wandy Rodriguez (no longer with the team, now a Pirate). So, um, I’m not really sure what to think of these guys. When your best player and only All-Star (Jose Altuve) is generously listed at 5’4”, chances are you don’t have a very good ball club. Hopefully, the Braves won’t overlook the ‘Stros like I would.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. –The Tennessee Titans reached terms on Tuesday with top draft pick, Baylor wide receiver
on a four-year contract.Wright is expected to be in Nashville tomorrow and will will be available to the media on Thursday.
The 20th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Wright begins his pro career with the expectation of adding speed and explosive plays to the Titans offense, much like he did during his career at Baylor, where he served as the primary target for Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
The 5-foot-10, 196-pound Wright was used principally as a slot receiver at Baylor, but his skill set translates to the outside as well.
Possessing sudden burst and strong hands, Wright figures to make an early impact on offense and could factor into the return game as well.
Wright concluded his Baylor career as the most decorated and accomplished receiver in school history. He owns virtually every significant receiving record for the program, totaling 302 receptions for 4,004 yards and 30 touchdowns. He never missed a game in his four years with the Bears and recorded at least one reception in every contest.
As a senior in 2011, Wright set Baylor single-season records in receptions (108), receiving yards (1,663), receiving touchdowns (14), 100-yard games (nine), all-purpose yards (1,772) and consecutive games with a reception (tied own record with 13). He landed on numerous All-American lists and was a Biletnikoff Award semi-finalist.
In addition to tallying 30 receiving touchdowns, Wright scored two rushing touchdowns and passed for a pair of touchdowns during his career at Baylor.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on if the team had a difficult time focusing due to O.J. Murdock’s passing)
I think it always is. I think that’s something in the back of people’s mind when something unexpected like that happens. You talk about it a lot, but I think once they get out here, and they start practicing, obviously it goes, football takes over. It’s the first time we have pads on, so you have some good and some bad. Guys getting used to it. We do a lot of things that we can’t in other practices which was good to see. A lot of the half line stuff. A lot of the linebackers on guards and backs.
(on the team getting into fights with pads on)
It wasn’t bad. We had a couple of guys. Craig Stevens usually starts it off. He got one going right off the bat which I thought would happen. I was right. If you had to predict one guy, your tough guy, your tight end that doesn’t say a word usually gets someone mad at him. So, we had a couple. You are going to have plenty of those and that’s fine. It’s just so when we pull it apart, it stops. That’s fine. You want guys competing. You want guys upset if they don’t make a play, but you just don’t want anything that’s going to cause a 15-yarder in a game. So they don’t get in bad habits.
(on if he has a policy on fighting)
Only if it gets out of hand. Only if we think it goes beyond the scope of what it should be or if there is any intent to hurt. If we something that just doesn’t look right or something that I’ve seen over the years happen, those are the things you are smart with. Like I said, you kind of encourage these guys. You want them to be going hard. You know guys are going to get upset when you’re out here and you’re hot and you’re tired. You want guys to handle themselves and control themselves because you don’t want it to bleed over to games when they think they can get away with that in a game. So, there is a fine line. I think last year we maybe had one fine the whole year on fights. Well, maybe a couple, but that was it. We pretty much practice pretty well together.
(on if Munchak gets angry at guys continuously dropping passes at practice)
Yeah, that’s something you keep track of on a daily basis. It’s not just drops; it’s anything, any position. If you are making the same mistakes which is dropping a ball, missing an assignment, or missing a read if you are a quarterback, we’re not real happy. You just can’t afford to have those things happen. You want to see someone come back and put that behind them. That is something that definitely would be upsetting if someone’s dropping the ball that many times.
(on if the dropped balls a first day in pad thing)
I think it’s a mental toughness thing. You have a guy like Lavelle Hawkins who tweaked his foot early so we had one less receiver; we were doing a lot of three wide receiver stuff today. So I think you have the pads on, its hot we just practiced last night, so I thinks it’s part of that, guys get a little tired and I think that is why balls start dropping and you have to learn how to fight through. Occasionally you are going to have a defensive guy make a play that is also part of the reason the ball is on the ground but you have to fight through that and of course temperatures are going to be hot because you have to catch the ball.
(on what you liked from Ryan Mouton today)
He is a tough kid; last year we didn’t get a chance to see him because of the injury right from the start. He got drafted for a reason. I like his attitude, for special teams he is a guy that helps you there too. He is aggressive on the field, he takes chances, and so far so good. This is what you are hoping to see from the kid. You are happy for him because he came back. That is a long rehab. He got hurt the first week of training camp and he just got out here during OTAs, so you’re happy that he gets a chance to show people what he can do.
(on the quarterbacks)
Quarterbacks, they both looked great to me today. Just keep going and we are getting into a few more things. We are adding plays in a few more days, once you get to the weekend we will have everything in and practice is more interesting to watch for us. Having a game like practice on Saturday at the end of the week and with Monday in Atlanta, those are the things that will help us evaluate a lot of things.
(on Taylor Thompson dropping the ball)
He is learning a new position that he hasn’t played in a long time and that excuse will get old and it has and he knows it’s not one for him to use and he doesn’t but we put a lot on these guys. We want to see the tight ends get back to moving around, playing a lot of positions, lining up in a lot of spots and shifting. So we are not easing in on him. We gave him the OTAs to get a feel for everything. His head is spinning to some degree. We have to be smart when we get to games, but once you get to games we will cut it back. You limit a lot what you do against Seattle, Atlanta and against the Buccaneers so these guys have a chance to have a lot of success. But now we are trying to push the limit with the tight ends because the more you can do with those guys and the more formations you can show and the more they get used to doing those things the better we will be in September.
FORT HOOD, Texas (July 29, 2012) — It’s time to make more room in the Fort Hood trophy case.
The III Corps Combatives Team added to its 2010 and 2011 titles by winning the 2012 U.S. Army Combatives Championship, July 28, at Fort Hood, this time in a come-from-behind effort, passing 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Ga., on the final day of competition.
The 5th Special Forces Group from Fort Campbell took fourth and in the light heavyweight division, 5th Special Forces Group’s Sgt. 1st Class James Stelly joined an exclusive group of combatives competitors, winning his third All-Army title — his previous two in 2005 and 2011. Tim Kennedy, now a staff sergeant in the National Guard, and Staff Sgt. Brandon Sayles, a current instructor at the Army Combatives School at Fort Benning, Ga., are the other two fighters to accomplish such a feat.
5th Special Forces Group 1LT Daniel Midgett also took first in the cruiserweight division.
Stelly found himself in hot water in the early on his bout, falling to the ground after a heavy right hand from Spc. Carlie Williams, , N.Y.
“I kind of just went back to my instincts,” Stelly said of how he kept his composure. “He hit me, and I turned from a Level 4 to a Level 1, and I just achieved the clinch. That’s all that was going through my mind, ‘you’re not going to knock me out.'”
Stelly recovered nicely, eventually gaining a side mount, working for an arm-bar submission. Williams successfully broke the arm-bar loose, but wasn’t able to withstand Stelly’s next submission attempt.
“I got position, I knew that I’m a lot safer on the ground — it’s where I’m comfortable,” the jiu-jitsu black belt said. “So when I got the rear mount, I got my forearm in there — and it’s hard to choke with those gloves on — but I snaked it in there, and eventually I got him.”
Stelly called being a three-time champion a blessing.
“Just to be alongside Tim Kennedy as two of the best guys,
III Corps relied on its tournament-high eight fighters in the finals — five in third-place bouts and three in championship bouts. The next highest finals fighter count was four, tallied by three different teams — Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Stewart.
Knowing the importance of head-to-head bouts against Fort Stewart, III Corps’ Staff Sgt. Aaron Riley went right after his flyweight opponent — Pfc. Joshua Young, Fort Stewart — in the third-place bout, one that turned out to be a slugfest.
Jarrod Clontz, coach for III Corps, knew the match was going to be pivotal coming into the night.
“I said, ‘Riley, I not only need you to win this match, I need a stoppage,'” Clontz told Riley before his bout. “‘I need you to knock him out or submit him, and I can accept nothing less, and I need you to come through for me.'”
Riley and Young battled in a fight Clontz described as “rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots,” as Young landed the bout’s first heavy blow.
“In a bit of honesty, I don’t remember being hit and put on the ground,” Riley said. “When I came to and had the realization of what was going on, I was on my back. I thought he took me down. I had to be told later on that I got hit, and put down.”
Riley said he managed to stay composed on the ground, relying on his never-give-up attitude to push him through the fight.
“You don’t want to let people down,” he said of the pressure going into the fight. “We’re in our home base here, this is Fort Hood, people are watching you fight for Fort Hood, and there’s so much riding on your victory, and specifically on my fight, because we were fighting Fort Stewart.”
Riley’s win via referee stoppage, combined with teammate Spc. Larry Jackson’s victory in the third-place bout at the bantamweight division to open the night, gave III Corps the lead, one that they would never relinquish.
In the first-place bouts, Fort Carson wrestled their way up the ranking to take third overall with a string of championship performances in the middle weight classes — Staff Sgt. Glenn Garrison, lightweight; 1st Lt. Matthew Kyler, welterweight; and Capt. Jon Anderson, middleweight.
Both Garrison and Kyler earned victories via judge’s decision, each defeating a III Corps fighter — Staff Sgt. Shane Lees and 2nd Lt. Nick Shafer, respectively — while Anderson submitted his opponent, Pfc. Vincent Fairbairn, Fort Stewart, in the first round.
Despite crowning no individual champion, III Corps’ overall team depth proved pivotal to success, with all five III Corps fighters fighting for third place earning victories, including Sgt. Phil Platt’s decision over Spc. Hobert Wilmotf, 5th Special Forces Group, which was dubbed the “Fight of the Night.”
Kris Perkins, the director of Fort Hood’s combatives program, said the team’s success went beyond the eight fighters competing in the finals, and even the 16 fighters competing in the tournament.
“At the end there were a lot more than 16 people in the cage,” Perkins said, describing the celebration with the Lacerda Cup, the trophy awarded to the tournament’s top team. “I had four people per weight class training for three months. They deserve this win just as much as anyone who competed.”
He added, “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.”
2012 U.S. Army Combatives Championship
1st place – Fort Hood – 441
2nd place – Fort Stewart – 407
3rd place – Fort Carson – 365
4th place – 5th Special Forces Group – 347
5th place – Fort Bragg – 344
6th place – Minnesota National Guard – 320
1st place – SFC Jonathan Mejil (Fort Sill)
2nd place – SPC Sean Stebbins (Minnesota National Guard)
3rd place – SPC Larry Jackson (Fort Hood)
1st place – SSG Francisco Mercado (Fort Bragg)
2nd place – SFC William Haggerty (Fort Bragg)
3rd place – SSG Aaron Riley (Fort Hood)
1st place – SSG Glenn Garrison (Fort Carson)
2nd place – SSG Shane Lees (Fort Hood)
3rd place – SGT Jesse Hertzog (Fort Bragg)
1st place – 1LT Matthew Kyler (Fort Carson)
2nd place – 2LT Nick Shafer (Fort Hood)
3rd place – SGT Philip Platt (Fort Hood)
1st place – CPT Jon Anderson (Fort Carson)
2nd place – PFC Vincent Fairbairn (Fort Stewart)
3rd place – CPT Jason Norwood (Fort Hood)
1st place – 1LT Daniel Midgett (5th Special Forces Group)
2nd place – SSG Ashten Richardson (Korea)
3rd place – SSG Patrick Miller (Fort Benning)
1st place – SFC James Stelly (5th Special Forces Group)
2nd place – SPC Carlie Williams (Fort Drum)
3rd place – SGT Jose Espinosa (Fort Hood)
1st place – SPC Nathaniel Freeman (Fort Stewart)
2nd place – SGT Jason Reyes (Fort Hood)
3rd place – SSG Lonnie Kincaid (Fort Riley)
III Corps — 441 points
Fort Stewart — 407 points
Fort Carson — 365 points
Championship Fight: Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Mejil (Fort Sill) defeated Spc. Sean Stebbins (Minnesota National Guard) with a submission in the first round.
3rd-place Fight: Spc. Larry Jackson (Fort Hood) defeated Sgt. Robert Mitchell (Fort Bragg) by judge’s decision after three rounds.
Championship Fight: Staff Sgt. Francisco Mercado (Fort Bragg) was awarded first-place after an injury forfeit from Sgt. 1st Class William Haggerty (Fort Bragg).
3rd-place Fight: Staff Sgt. Aaron Riley (Fort Hood) vs. Pfc. Joshua Young (Fort Stewart) after referee stoppage in the first round.
Championship Fight: Staff Sgt. Glenn Garrison (Fort Carson) defeated Staff Sgt. Shane Lees (Fort Hood) by judge’s decision after three rounds.
3rd-place Fight: Sgt. Jesse Hertzog (Fort Bragg) vs. Spc. Blaze Schubert (Fort Campbell) after referee stoppage in the first round.
Championship Fight: 1LT Matthew Kyler (Fort Carson) defeated 2nd Lt. Nick Shafer (Fort Hood) by judge’s decision after three rounds.
3rd-place Fight: Sgt. Philip Platt (Fort Hood) defeated Spc. Hobert Wilmotf (5th Special Forces Group) by judge’s decision after three rounds.
Championship Fight: Capt. Jon Anderson (Fort Carson) defeated Pfc. Vincent Fairbairn (Fort Stewart) with a submission in the first round.
3rd-place Fight: Capt. Jason Norwood (Fort Hood) defeated Tech Sgt. Christopher Davis (Joint Base Lewis McChord) after referee stoppage in the third round.
Championship Fight: 1st Lt. Daniel Midgett (5th Special Forces Group) defeated Staff Sgt. Ashten Richardson (Korea) after referee stoppage in the first round.
3rd-place Fight: Spc. Austin Avela (Fort Stewart) defeated Staff Sgt. Patrick Miller (Fort Benning) in an exhibition bout with a submission in the first round. Miller was awarded third place after a forfeit by Staff Sgt. Andrew McLauchlan (Fort Stewart).
Championship Fight: Sgt. 1st Class James Stelly (5th Special Forces Group) defeated Spc. Carlie Williams (Fort Drum) with a submission in the first round.
3rd-place Fight: Sgt. Jose Espinosa (Fort Hood) defeated Spc. Julio De la Cruz (Fort Leonard Wood) with a submission in the third round.
Championship Fight: Spc. Nathaniel Freeman (Fort Stewart) defeated Sgt. Jason Reyes (Fort Hood) after referee stoppage in the second round.
3rd-place Fight: Staff Sgt. Lonnie Kincaid (Fort Riley) defeated Sgt. 1st Class William Smith (Fort Carson) after referee stoppage in the first round.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Edwin Maysonet hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Nashville Sounds a 4-3 victory over the Albuquerque Isotopes on Monday night at Greer Stadium.
The last at-bat victory was Nashville’s 15th of the season, which also snapped a four-game losing streak.
With the scored tied at 3-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, outfielder Khris Davis worked a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a infield groundout, and came home on Maysonet’s hit to score the game-winning run in his Sounds debut.
Albuquerque jumped out to a 1-0 lead as Elian Herrera opened the contest with a soft line drive single. The shortstop moved to second on a groundout, advanced to third on a fly out, and scored on Jerry Sands RBI single.
Nashville quickly went ahead in the next inning, beginning with a double down the third base line by second baseman Eric Farris. Next batter Caleb Gindl then jacked his eighth homer of the season over the right field wall.
The Isotopes tied the game at 2-2 in the visiting half of the third thanks to a Tim Federowicz RBI double.
Both teams traded runs in the seventh. Tyler Henson began the frame with a leadoff walk, moved to third on a couple of infield groundouts, and scored on a soft flair to the outfield by Elian Herrera.
Jordan Brown began the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a bunt combined with a fielding error, and scored as pinch hitter Sean Halton hit a deep sacrifice fly to center.
Nashville starter Claudio Vargas pitched a quality start in a no-decision, allowing three runs on eight hits in seven innings of work.
Fautino De Los Santos pitched a scoreless frame in his Sounds debut. With runners on first and second and no outs, Juan Perez (2-0) escaped a jam for a scoreless ninth for the victory
Albuquerque starter Fernando Nieve struck out a season-high eight batters in seven innings while giving up three runs (two earned) in a no-decision. Luis Vasquez (0-1) took the loss
The Sounds conclude their homestand and wrap up their season series with the Isotopes at 7:05 pm Tuesday night at Greer Stadium. Right-hander Wily Peralta (6-9, 4.92) makes the start for Nashville against Albuquerque righty Will Savage (10-4, 5.47).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker figure to have a little more than three weeks to stake a claim to the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback job.
Titans coach Mike Munchak threw the position open for competition during the offseason. Hasselbeck had a solid year as a free agent addition in 2011 and has been mentoring Locker, the former first-round pick.
The quarterbacks alternated reps during the first practice Saturday, a pattern that is likely to continue until a decision is made. Munchak says he wants that decision made by the third game of the preseason, Aug. 23 against Arizona, for the good of team chemistry and preparation for the regular season.
“I think we have no choice but to. We can’t wait past that,” Munchak said. “I mean in any position, again just philosophy wise, you got to do what’s best for your team and you got to make a decision.”
In his mind, there is no such thing as overdoing the analysis of picking a starting quarterback.
“You’re looking at everything. You can’t overanalyze. It’s not just the quarterback, there’s everything,” he said. “You’re kind of taking it all in on the field. You can see things on the field obviously you cannot see on film. That’s the type of stuff . the interactions, how they respond to each other, how they respond after maybe a couple of bad plays, how they take the coaching. Those are the things you see on the field – the body language.”
The choice won’t be an easy one, given that Hasselbeck, who turns 37 in September, turned in his best season since 2007 after he signed with the Titans as a free agent following last year’s lockout.
In his 13th NFL season, Hasselbeck completed 319 of 518 passes for 3,571 yards with 18 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
And while he is keeping the seat warm for Locker, and the two have become good friends, Hasselbeck is preparing himself to try to hold on to the job a while longer.
During the offseason in the Seattle area, Hasselbeck scaled back on “fun” events to put even more focus on getting ready for the 2012 season.
“I’ve got some neighbors in Washington – we do a homemade triathlon each year, and I passed on that. I skipped out on that. There was no wakeboarding or any of that kind of stuff,” Hasselbeck said.
For Locker, the offseason changed as well. He stayed in Nashville during his break between mini-camps and training camp, mostly because his wife Lauren gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter named Callie Jo, on July 17.
Locker had the misfortune of coming to camp as a rookie with no offseason thanks to the lockout.
“For us that were rookies last year, it’s a lot different dynamic this year,” Locker said. “We’re able to get familiar not only with the playbook, but the coaching styles, what they want out of certain plays, what we’re trying to achieve within our offense or our defense. Last year, there was a lot (of nerves), just because there were a lot of unknowns. You didn’t know what to expect.”
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Tennessee Titans reserve receiver O.J. Murdock has died of an apparent suicide, Tampa police say.
Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said officers found the 25-year-old Murdock inside his car Monday morning with what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The car was parked in front of Middleton High School, where Murdock attended school.
He was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he later died.
Murdock did not report to training camp over the weekend because of what the team said at the time was a personal issue.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of O.J. Murdock’s death this morning,” the Titans said in a statement Monday. “In his brief time here, a number of our players, coaches and staff had grown close to O.J., and this is a difficult time for them. He spent the last year battling back from an Achilles injury as he prepared for this year’s training camp. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they try to cope with this tragedy.”
As a senior at Middleton in 2005, Murdock was rated the 10th-best wide receiver recruit in the nation by Rivals.com. He signed with South Carolina, but played in only four games, making one catch, after redshirting his first season. He was arrested for shoplifting at a Florida department store during that 2006 season and suspended.
Murdock transferred to Pearl River Community College in Mississippi and then to Division II Fort Hays State in Kansas. As a senior in 2010, he had 60 catches for 1,290 yards and 12 touchdowns.
That earned him an invitation to the NFL scouting combine. After going undrafted, he was signed by the Titans last summer but spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve after hurting his right Achilles early in training camp.
Tennessee Titans reserve receiver O.J. Murdock has died of an apparent suicide, Tampa police say.
Here’s a statement on the passing from the Tennessee Titans:
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of O.J. Murdock’s death this morning. In his brief time here, a number of our players, coaches and staff had grown close to O.J., and this is a difficult time for them. He spent the last year battling back from an Achilles injury as he prepared for this year’s training camp. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as they try to cope with this tragedy.”
By Christina Webb
HOUSTON, Texas — Here’s some of the results from Day 1 and 2 for Tennessee Athletic Project in the Heptathlon and the start of the AAU Junior Olympics:
Brittany Kelly finished 5th out of over 20 competitors and medaled in the Young Women’s Heptathlon with 4118 points.
Kelly had a personal best in the in the shot put and hurdles in the heptathlon.
Sonja White finished in 19th place out of 52 competitors in the Intermediate Girls division. White made personal bests in the Long Jump, Javelin, Shot Put, and the 800. White scored 300 more points overall than she did at the National Qualifier in Knoxville with a score 3528.
Next up Kelly competes in the Long Jump and the 400 hurdles and Khalil Maynard will also compete in the Young Men today.
Athletes from Northeast High, Clarksville High, Rossview High, Fort Campbell, Richview Middle and Barksdale Elementary are running int this event.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
Good workout I thought for us. I think when you go outside at night and it’s so much cooler than it is during the day and you have the crowd out here, I think it energized the guys quite a bit. I think they can relax and not go too hard, but I think it ended up being a pretty good workout for our second time out here. Those guys would love to practice at night every night if we could.
(on why Munchak waited a day before having the crowd out to practice)
Similar to what we did last year, just to kind of get these guys a practice under their belt before we came out, nothing more than that. I felt Sunday night is always a great night for a lot people to be at. It’s a little cooler than being out at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday. I think they enjoyed it. I think it was something where everyone was able to stay and watch the whole practice without worrying about the heat. I thought we were ready to come out here and be under the lights, and it worked out well.
(on how much further ahead the team is today than at this time a year ago)
That’s what’s exciting about it. We talked a little about it yesterday. We’re able to do so much more on the scripting. Today we did a blitz period. Last year, we couldn’t do that at this time. The quarterbacks are making a lot of adjustments, that’s obviously hard for a fan to see from the sidelines—checking protections, checking out of a run, just a lot of things. We weren’t even able to go out there in empty formations. The defense is making all kinds of adjustments, checking out of blitzes and into blitzes, changing coverage. Just a lot of football jargon, but for us, it shows us how much further ahead we are. Hopefully that will help us go on to the season.
(on what he hopes to see out of Michael Griffin now that he’s one of the more tenured guys on defense)
Just what he’s been doing—step up and make plays, be a leader. I think we showed the confidence we had in him. He’s a guy that is here every day during the offseason. He’s the first guy out in practice, helps on special teams even though he’s not on them. He leads that way which is fun. I think he loves the game, and we’re looking forward to a big year. He’s a guy that’s been to the Pro Bowl a couple of times, he’s had success in his career with some picks, and that’s what we’re expecting this year. I think he’s enjoying the role. We’re just getting started, but it will be fun for that group to come together this year.
(on if he is worried that linebacker Colin McCarthy might have a problem staying injury-free this season because of his smaller size)
That’s something you don’t give a raw thought to. He’s worked hard in the offseason, he looks bigger to me. He looks more physical to me than he did last year at this time. Him and Akeem (Ayers) as two young linebackers… he definitely is loaded with confidence. I think that he realizes that this is his team to lead. He’s a guy that, as we saw last year, makes big plays, knows how to hit the back, where to hit him, no matter who the back is, puts him on the ground, knocks the ball out. He’s that kind of guy, so I think the way he works out, that’s not something we’re worried about. We obviously need him the whole year, and hope that he can do it.
(on if he thinks that defensive coordinator Jerry Gray might try to change second-year linebacker Colin McCarthy’s hit first, think second mentality)
Your second year, you’ll have to learn—especially if you’re playing against…in the passing game, your drops, things like that. We all do, we have a lot to work on, a lot of things we can get better at than we did last year. You can see his confidence, and the fact that he’s a guy we feel can stay on the field the whole game. That’s something he showed he could do last year. He’s relishes the challenge, and that’s what I think is fun about it. You wouldn’t think he’s in his second year, and last year when we started playing, you didn’t really think he was a rookie. Excited to see what he can do this year.
(on if this practice time is extra valuable for Marc Mariani with Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright not practicing)
It is. I’m excited for him too because last year again not having an offseason for him and we put him in there at receiver. I think he had a very good OTA and a very good offseason those nine weeks. Like you said this will be a chance for him to get more reps, which he has already, and hoping that we get Kendall (Wright) in here soon anyway. We got a lot of young players there that are going to get a chance to get reps, and see if we can get one to develop and maybe surprise us when we go into the preseason games.
(on his expectations of Marc Mariani’s productivity levels)
I hope so. The quarterbacks have confidence in him, I know that. I think he’s developed a confidence in himself that he knows how to make those adjustments. He’s not limited to maybe a couple of routes or couple of plays, maybe as we had last year with him. The confidence now is that he can do a lot more, and we’ll have to see what happens, especially during the preseason.
(on whether there is an update on Kendall Wright)
No, I don’t know anything that anyone else does, unfortunately. Again, I was hoping obviously that it’d be done by now. But we can’t worry about him until he gets here. Hopefully it’ll be soon.
(on when Wright’s absence in practice will impinge on his learning)
Well, the good thing for us is that he spent the eight or nine weeks with us and has a really good feel for what we’re doing. And the fact that a lot of the adjustments that we make, and he’s used to reading coverages, he’s done a lot in college which a lot of the receivers you couldn’t say that about. So, it’d be more of a scare if it wasn’t. You want him here. There’s no doubt. If he’s going to help us early, you don’t want to miss any time. We’ll see, but he’s a guy that has a great head start on most young receivers just because of the system he was in, the fact that he played four years in college, and he got better every year. He’s not a guy that played two years and came out and is still figuring the game out. He was part of a pretty good offense at Baylor and has a lot of confidence. I think we all saw that when he was here in OTAs. I think that gives him a chance, even though he’s missed a few days that he should be fine.
(on when Kendall Wright is required to be at practice to play in the first game)
The night before? I don’t know. There may be rules involved in that. You just don’t rush him if it goes that long and we’re hoping it doesn’t. We’re hoping he’s with us when we go to Atlanta next week. We’ll just hope for the best and practice with the guys that are here.
(on what he is looking for in Jared Cook)
His confidence, that’s where you see his progress from last year to this year. Even during the season this year, he’s confident. He’s made some catches out here that a confident man makes, not a guy that is shying away from them. He made some great grabs here. He’s that guy we all thought he was. He’s developed nicely there. The run-game, I think he’s working hard on his technique there. He’s gotten stronger. He’s just getting better every year. That’s what you want with players, to get better every year. He’s shown us last year that he can be a big weapon. We just have to get to where that happens every Sunday. That takes a joint effort by us and him to make sure every game that he’s a factor because he’s a tough person for the defense to deal with.
(on how his assessment of the linebackers changed from a year ago)
I think the big thing is that we know them well. For young men, they’re very confident. You watch Akeem Ayers in practice and that group, there’s a lot of speed going on. The fact that he’s rushing the quarterback, the linebackers are bringing it. Even watching Zach Brown today rushed quite a bit, there are some big linebackers that backs are going to have a tough time stopping. They’re going to be fun to watch. We’re just getting started here. We saw the energy during this summer, or OTAs as I should say. I’m really excited about what they’re going to be able to do when they’re asked to rush the passer.
(on Eugene Amano’s fight to keep his position)
I knew that would be the case. He comes in here and is one of the strongest guys on the football team and it shows when he plays. He just has to do it from when it starts to finish, and he knows that. He’s looking physical and strong right now as we start. He realizes he’s in fight and is enjoying that. He’s one of the guys that we need to lead us and step up if we’re going to have a good year
(on the players’ levels of excitement for the start of full-pads practice)
We have to have a talk tomorrow because everyone seems to think when pads go on, fights start and that becomes, ‘let me show you how tough I am.’ I’m not sure if they can go any faster, as far as speed and quicks and they’re definitely learning how to practice with each other. Where we’re not near the quarterback and we’re pulling off, and we’re practicing smart. We’re staying off the ground. When we put the pads on, we’re adding an element, no doubt, especially the first couple of days until they get sore. So I’m sure the energy level tomorrow will be big the next two practices. So we just have to practice smart. The speed should be the same. Obviously a little more hitting. Still smart around the pocket. Not finishing guys off on the ground, we’ll have plenty of time to that when preseason starts.