Aug/22/12 08:55 AM Filed in: Colin McCarthy
The Titans don’t keep official practice stats, but if they did, it’s a good bet that middle linebacker Colin McCarthy would rank near the top of the charts — if not lead the team — in training camp interceptions.
He was at it again a couple of days ago, picking off a Matt Hasselbeck pass over the middle near the start of practice.
McCarthy usually does his interception damage on opposition slant patterns, using his anticipation skills to surprise quarterbacks. That’s the technique he used in the preseason opener, when he intercepted a pass thrown by Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn.
“He’s one of those guys that just has a feel for the game,” coach Mike Munchak said. “He’s got natural, good instincts. It’s something you can’t coach. … He just finds a way to get himself in the right spot without people realizing he’s in that spot, especially quarterbacks. He reaches for balls they don’t think he can get.”
McCarthy, who had three interceptions during his college career at Miami, Fla., had one interception as a rookie last season, when he played in 13 games and emerged as a late-season leader for the defense thanks in large part to his prowess as a tackler.
The second-year pro said preparation has played a role in his penchant for pickoffs this preseason.
“One important thing is understanding the defense, understanding the coverage and getting an idea where the quarterback wants to go with the ball in certain situations — whether it’s down and distance or whether it’s personnel-wise, who they want to get the ball to,” McCarthy said. “So just studying further into offenses, understanding what they are trying to do so I can make more plays.”
Is it also possible that quarterbacks underestimate the range and leaping ability of the 6-foot-1, 238-pound McCarthy, who can dunk a basketball?
“I hope they do because then I’ll keep making plays,” McCarthy said. “As long as they keep doing that, then I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. With the coverages, there’s an opportunity to make plays, and given the opportunity, I’m going to try to make them.”