NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Tennessee Titans center Eugene Amano will miss the season because of a torn triceps muscle in his right arm.
Amano started at center the past two seasons for the Titans. He was injured Thursday night in practice when hit by a helmet while blocking on a pass attempt. He will have surgery next week.
Amano was competing for his starting spot with Kevin Matthews and Fernando Velasco, who had been getting work at right guard. Now it’ll be Velasco or Matthews who will open the season at center. Matthews, though, has been out since Thursday with a concussion.
“Fernando has taken reps the last couple of days, and we’ve talked about him going in this second week anyway and it worked out that way,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said. “We’re confident in him. Kevin Matthews will probably be back on Wednesday.
Leroy Harris moves into the starter’s role at right guard.
Velasco said he’s been preparing for a chance to start, but didn’t want it to happen at the expense of Amano.
“Being a backup guy, I always prepared like I was a starter anyway. I hate it for Eugene, but it’s time for me to step up,” Velasco said Friday. “I’ve always had confidence in myself, and I know I can play the game at this level and play it at a high level.”
The Titans also signed veteran center/guard Chris Morris.
The 6-foot-4 Morris has played four seasons with Oakland, and appeared in four games for Carolina in 2010. Last season, he spent time in training camp with New England and Detroit.
NOTES: QB Matt Hasselbeck operated the first-team offense, and Jake Locker ran the second team…First-round pick Kendall Wright got his first full pads practice in after agreeing to his $8.2 million deal Tuesday. Wright split time between the first and second units at receiver…RB Darius Reynaud sat out practice with a rib injury…TE Brandon Barden (hamstring) remains out…DE Dave Ball was excused for personal reasons, while receiver Damian Williams and TE Jared Cook were excused to attend the funeral of Titans receiver O.J. Murdock, who committed suicide on Monday.
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Austin Peay State University’s football team will bring a surplus of experience to camp when more than 90 Governors report, Sunday, in preparation for the 2012 season.
A still-young Governors team returns 58 lettermen, including 18 starters from the 2011 squad that went 3-8.
“What is so exciting is the fact we return so many guys from last year and we will have pretty much the same guys next year as well,” APSU coach Rick Christophel said. “We are two deep pretty much at every position and in some places three deep. We are very optimistic where we are with the program and where we should be. We look forward to seeing these guys come to camp on Sunday.”
The Governors are undeterred about preseason Ohio Valley Conference prognostications that have APSU picked ninth in the league race.
“They were disappointed (in the preseason selection) and rightfully so—they should be,” Christophel said. “I believe our guys understand what they have to do. It is about gaining respect in the conference and becoming more consistent.
“I personally was a little more disappointed about a few of our guys on watch lists that didn’t get a little more recognition in the conference. I certainly think they can play for a lot of people in this conference. They (other OVC coaches) wouldn’t trade their guys but I certainly wouldn’t trade ours either. It comes down to respect.”
The Governors got off to a hot OVC start a year ago, winning league home games against eventual OVC champ Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee State. But they were unable to build on that momentum. Injuries also ambushed the Govs amidst their struggles. But with so many familiar faces back, Christophel and staff hope the Governors can better handle adversity in 2012.
“You can’t coach experience,” Christophel said. “We have to find replacements for a few people, including three offensive line starters and guys like (safety) Amius (Smith) and (running back (Ryan) White. The good thing is the guys who are vying for those jobs all have game experience. So we are not pushing guys out there for the first time.
“The bad news is we have to play Western Kentucky and Virginia Tech right out the gate along with Tennessee State.“
Recently, Christophel was cleaning out a drawer and ran across a depth chart from 2009, when fast-forwarding to this season, tells him how much the program has evolved.
“We were lucky to have two-deep back at most positions back then,” he said. “And now we are reporting (to camp) as many guys that we ever have had report. Now we are two, three and sometimes four deep in some positions. We are in a position now where can redshirt guys—we are in a position now where we don’t have to play freshmen.
”The number of bodies we have reporting to camp is what excites me the most. And I say that that because each one of them is going to contribute to this football team.”
Defensively, the veteran Govs expect sophomore safety Steven Rich to step in for Smith—Rich had 33 tackles a year ago as a reserve. But the Governors have reshuffled the deck a bit to better take advantage of their chief asset—speed. Defensive ends Iosua Siliva and Preston Gilbreath were moved inside to tackle. Defensive tackle Anthony Marion was shifted to defensive end while inside linebackers Zac Burkhart and Zach Lane were shifted to defensive end and defensive end Rip Rowan was moved to linebacker.
The defensive goal since 2011 season’s end was to get quicker on defense for a two-fold purpose, doing a better job slowing down the opposition’s running game while also being able to put more pressure on the quarterback. A quartet of seniors, safety Antwaun Majors, linebacker Darrick Dillard, defensive ends Marion and Burkhart, are expected to provide defensive leadership.
Offensively, the Governors should be led by the senior passing combination of quarterback Jake Ryan to wide receiver Devin Stark, who was enjoying an All-OVC-type season until Ryan missed more than two games with a knee injury. Still, Stark, who had impressive early showings against FBS members Cincinnati and Memphis, finished with 53 catches for 627 yards and seven TDs.
Terrence Oliver and Robert Lemon provide quality depth at one of the other receiver positions but it is the Z position—speed receiver position—where the Govs are seeking consistency. Both sophomores Jamaar Embry and Darryl Clack had their moments a year ago, but it is consistency the Govs are seeking from that spot.
Of course, the Governors must find a replacement for White, a 1,000-yard rusher a year ago who left as Austin Peay’s second all-time leading rusher. Senior Wes Kitts, who averaged 5.9 yards per carry while gaining 495 yards a year ago, will get the first crack.
Also back are sophomore Ean Pemberton (171 yards), redshirt sophomore Dontavious Brown and redshirt freshman Reco Williams. Brown, who played defensive back in 2010, made an impressive transition to the more-natural running back position last fall before a knee injury caused him to miss 2011. At 6-1, 240 pounds, Williams offers straight-ahead power from the backfield.
“Finding a replacement for Ryan certainly is a priority,” Christophel said. “Wes has proven in the past he can do it, but keeping him on field—injuries—have been the issue.
“Even though we will miss Ryan, in all honesty, I believe we have more quality depth at running back than we have had since I have been here,” Christophel said. “And that is not even talking about Omar (Williams, the freshman running back who had more than 1,000 yards alone in the Tennessee High School playoffs a year ago).”
The other question mark will on the aforementioned offensive line. Former starting guard Jacob Langston, a senior, has been shifted to center while junior guard Chris Hartman is the Govs other returning starter. However, right tackle Ben Stanfield has two starts in his background while fellow tackle Kyle Harrison has played considerably as well.
Guard Gavin Willisson gained experience at center a year ago behind Tim Schmid while back-up O.C. Brown, the transfer from Southern Miss, has a year of FBS experience in his background. Sophomore Nathan Sanders more than got his feet wet last year as an offensive line back up . Only redshirt freshmen tackles Julian Virgo and James McDaniel lack on-field experience among APSU’s top 11 linemen.
The kicking game is in capable hands. Senior Stephen Stansell is on the verge of becoming APSU’s all-time leader in field goals made while sophomore punter Ben Campbell showed an impressive leg a year ago.
Players will check into their respective dorms 1-4 p.m., Sunday, before physicals are held that night. After an assortment of meetings Monday morning, the Governors finally will get on the practice field for the first time, 3:45 p.m.
CLARKSVILLE – Since arriving back on campus Tuesday, the Austin Peay State University women’s soccer team has been putting in long hours with team meetings, dinners and training sessions at Morgan Brothers Soccer Field in preparation for the 2012 campaign.
With all 11 starters returning, a couple of veterans coming back from injury and a deep, talented recruiting class, head coach Kelley Guth has a strong stable of talent coming into the season.
The Lady Govs are missing two of their number during the early portions of camp. Juniors Natalia and Tatiana Ariza are currently in London, having represented their native Columbia in the 2012 Summer Olympics. The duo will return to Bogota before rejoining their Lady Govs teammates in Clarksville for the upcoming season.
The Lady Govs open exhibition play at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at Evansville before kicking off the regular season at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17. at Arkansas. Austin Peay opens its home slate with a 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24 match against Appalachian State.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – For four seasons now, Fernando Velasco has been looking for an opportunity.
The undrafted free agent first came to the Titans in 2008 and promptly got injured at the start of his first training camp. Since that time, he spent nearly two years on the practice squad and last year as a backup guard and center.
But now, Velasco is finally getting a chance to be considered for a starting role, primarily at right guard.
The main competition for Velasco is Leroy Harris, a two-year starter at left guard, who is trying to stay in the lineup by moving over to the right side after the Titans signed seven-time Pro Bowl selection Steve Hutchinson as a free agent.
“For a guy like me, it’s fine. As athletes, that’s all we want to do is have a chance to compete. That’s the fun part about it is getting a chance to compete,” said Velasco, who played both center and guard at the University of Georgia.
The Titans (No. 21 in the AP Pro32) have said that Velasco might also find himself in the center mix, where Eugene Amano and Kevin Matthews are in a position battle as well. But thus far in camp, Velasco has mostly been at right guard.
“For me it doesn’t matter what position, I just want to play,” Velasco said. “I don’t want to be picky. I’ll let them decide that. With all the guys they’ve got playing both positions, I think they’re going to mix and match them and see what the best combination is. I’m not picky, I just want to be part of the five.”
Harris knows that feeling as well. Until he became a starter in 2010, he spent three seasons as a backup guard and center himself, even getting a spot start at right tackle once in 2009.
So moving over from left to right guard isn’t a big deal, if it means staying in the Titans’ starting lineup.
“Moving to the other side, I don’t mind it,” Harris said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play a bunch of positions while I’ve been here, so moving to right guard is not that big of a deal. It’s just the switching of the feet and getting comfortable with (right tackle David) Stewart, and getting comfortable with the footwork.”
Thus far in camp, offensive line coach Bruce Matthews has kept Harris, and Amano, the Titans’ starting center the past two years, in with the first team, though a true competition has been promised.
“Right now, it’s just a matter of them getting work. They’re all getting an equal amount of work, whether it’s with the ones or the twos,” Matthews said. “The starters from last year are the ones who are getting the lion’s share of the ones right now. But the big thing at this point of camp is as many reps as we all can get.”
Once the first couple of weeks of camp are done, and the linemen are in true football game shape, the mixing and matching of personnel will be more frequent. Harris says he welcomes the competition, even if his starting spot is one that is up for grabs.
“The competition is to be expected. That’s the game we play. You expect to be competing every play, and I welcome that. It pushes us and makes us all better, and I like that competition part of it anyway. It drives you,” said Harris who missed time in the off-season following shoulder surgery.
How long will it take for the competitions on the line to play out?
“To be perfectly, I’d love to see the competition go all the way to the (start of the) season, because you’ve got two capable guys who won’t be playing in that spot as well,” Matthew said.
By Michael Rios
If you drive through Heritage Park on a Tuesday evening you will probably see Clarksville’s newest sports team practicing.
The Clarksville Valkyries are a women’s rugby team getting ready to kick-off their inaugural season this fall.
The team is composed of about 15 women ranging from 8 years experience playing rugby to beginners. They practice every Tuesday night honing their skills and getting ready for their late September start.
They will play in the mid-south region. A region composed of teams from Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga and Louisville just to name a few. The team is also looking to help form a high school girls club team.
So if you are ready to watch some local athletes the Clarksville Valkyries RFC are coming to a field near you.
The Valkyries: Clarksville Women’s RFC