Ti­tans DC Pees gives his play­ers fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive to read

The Expositor (Brantford) - - SPORTS - The As­so­ci­ated Press

Ten­nessee Ti­tans de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dean Pees gives his play­ers a fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive to read his tip sheets very care­fully each week.

Well, at least for the first player to find the bonus Pees hides in plain sight.

“All it is is to dou­ble-check and see if they’re read­ing,” Pees says.

Pees in­cludes a note to come col­lect ei­ther $50 or $100 to the first player who finds his of­fer in­side notes that can run up to nine pages long. The of­fer usu­ally is buried in some of the play calls Pees has used on de­fence from the begin­ning, and the co-or­di­na­tor says he uses red ink to note any new play calls. Play­ers then typ­i­cally scan for ev­ery­thing noted in red.

Ti­tans coach Mike Vra­bel got so good at beat­ing team­mates to the hid­den bonus when play­ing line­backer that Pees says he had to rule out him out.

“He’d be stand­ing at my door go­ing, ‘$100,’ ” Pees says. “I’d say, ‘Where’d you find it?’ And he’d tell me.”

Pees also has had weeks go by when no­body col­lected.

Writ­ing out the sheets is a habit Pees picked up since his own col­lege days. Each call usu­ally has up to four sen­tences, and Pees says he bet­ter ex­plains him­self when writ­ing out each call.


Ben­gals de­fen­sive end Car­los Dun­lap was talk­ing this week about how dif­fi­cult it is to bring down quar­ter­backs such as Pitts­burgh’s Ben Roeth­lis­berger un­der the new NFL rules that pre­vent de­fend­ers from us­ing their full body weight in a tackle.

“Any time you try to tackle a 300pound quar­ter­back, it’s go­ing to be pretty dif­fi­cult,” Dun­lap says. Wait, what? How much does Big Ben weigh? The 6-foot-5 quar­ter­back changed his diet in the off-sea­son to drop some weight en­ter­ing his 15th sea­son. Although he won’t give his of­fi­cial weight, he’s listed at 240 pounds in the Steel­ers’ me­dia guide — one pound lighter than in re­cent years.

For com­par­i­son, Jared Loren­zen was listed at 275 pounds when he played for the Gi­ants from 200607.

Does Dun­lap re­ally think Big Ben tips the scales at 300 pounds?

“With his equip­ment and his rib cage (pro­tec­tor) and all the other stuff he has on — sweat, what­ever — I’m pretty sure he gets close,” Dun­lap says.


Few star NFL quar­ter­backs know more about Drew Brees than his former team­mate, Philip Rivers.

Af­ter all, Rivers beat out Brees when the Charg­ers were in San Diego, send­ing Brees into free agency in 2006, when he landed with New Or­leans.

Now, Brees holds nearly ev­ery NFL pass­ing record, hav­ing sur­passed Pey­ton Man­ning on Mon­day night for the lead in yardage. Rivers was watch­ing. “Yeah, it was awe­some,” he says. “I cer­tainly was tuned in watch­ing it, count­ing the yards down. A heck of an ac­com­plish­ment. It’s crazy when you think about it, how many yards (72,103) that is. That’s a ton of yards.

“I think credit to him, ob­vi­ously, and I heard Drew’s com­ments of him thank­ing and giv­ing credit to so many peo­ple that have had a hand in it, as you ex­pected him to do. Ob­vi­ously, he’s a tal­ented player and passer and all those things. I think it was just hard work and prepa­ra­tion — and re­ally prob­a­bly maybe more than any­thing, the be­lief in him­self.”

San Diego chose Eli Man­ning atop the first round of the 2004 draft and then dealt him to the Gi­ants for Rivers. Brees was the starter for the Charg­ers, but he soon be­gan bat­tling shoul­der prob­lems.

“I wasn’t here dur­ing the early times of his first cou­ple years,” Rivers says. “I know it was a bumpy start, and then I get drafted here in 2004, and shoot, he kept me sit­ting for those two years.

“I was able to watch and learn, and he re­ally got it go­ing then, and what he’s done in New Or­leans the last 13 years or what­ever has been re­mark­able. So I was happy for him. He and I still keep in touch. It was fun to watch.”


Min­nesota wide re­ceiver Adam Thie­len turned in his fifth straight 100-yard game last Sun­day, but there was no big­ger con­tri­bu­tion to the win at Philadel­phia than his re­cov­ery of Jake El­liott’s on­side kick for the Ea­gles with a lit­tle more than a minute left in the game and the Vik­ings lead­ing by two points.

El­liott man­aged to put a plenty of back­spin on the ball that made it skip off Thie­len’s chest as he dropped to his knees like a catcher in base­ball to keep it in front of him be­fore div­ing for­ward to smother it just in time as sev­eral Ea­gles con­verged.

“It was nasty,” Thie­len said. “It was the best on­side kick I’ve ever seen.”

For a player who leads the NFL in re­cep­tions, the hands team on the kick­off re­turn unit falls in the cat­e­gory of dirty work. But it’s an hon­our to be picked for it none­the­less.

“It’s def­i­nitely not my favourite play in the world be­cause there’s a lot of pres­sure, but at the same time once the ball’s kicked, you’re not think­ing about pres­sure,” Thie­len said, adding: “The coaches, they want to put the best peo­ple out there for that sit­u­a­tion, and you kind of hope your name is called for that. You want to be in those sit­u­a­tions. You want to help this team win games, and if you’re out there for a hands play, most of the time it’s to help se­cure a win.”

Dean Pees

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