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Originally published January 13, 2014 at 8:49 PM | Page modified January 13, 2014 at 8:52 PM

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Titans tab Ken Whisenhunt as new coach


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have wrapped up their coaching search by hiring San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as the 17th coach in franchise history.

“Ken is a well-respected coach in this league and I am looking forward to seeing his vision become reality for this team,” Titans president and CEO Tommy Smith said in a statement. “He has a history of building successful offenses and took Arizona to a Super Bowl as a head coach. We all share a common goal for this team and that is to build a consistent winner.”

Whisenhunt, 51, will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday.

The Titans flew to San Diego on Friday and interviewed Whisenhunt, who started his coaching career in Nashville at Vanderbilt. He was the fourth person interviewed by the Titans, who fired Mike Munchak on Jan. 4.

But the Titans had competition for Whisenhunt, who also interviewed with Detroit and Cleveland last week. The Tennessean reported the Titans interviewed Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer for a second time Monday in Houston before hiring Whisenhunt.

Notes

• It has been seven years since the Patriots were underdogs in a postseason game.

So Tom Brady isn’t wasting a chance to embrace that role now.

If that motivational tactic is good enough for the star quarterback, it’s good enough for his teammates.

“If Tom’s going to embrace it, I’m going to embrace it,” New England running back LeGarrette Blount said with a smile. “That’s the leader of this team, and if that’s how he feels, I’m sure that’s how most of the guys out here feel.”

For the first time in 12 postseason games, the Patriots are underdogs in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game with Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver.

The last time the Patriots weren’t favored in the playoffs was in another conference title game against Manning when he was with Indianapolis in 2007. The Colts rallied at home for a 38-34 win after trailing 21-3 in the final minute of the first half.

In their next to last regular-season game, the Patriots (13-4) were underdogs at Baltimore, which had won four straight games, but beat the Ravens 41-7.

“I know when we played Baltimore nobody picked us to win,” Brady said during his weekly appearance on WEEI radio. “I’m sure no one’s going to pick us to win this week. We’ve had our backs against the wall for a while. Really, the whole season we’ve lost players, and teams have really counted us out.”

That may be an exaggeration. Teams don’t take the Patriots lightly.

Still, Brady said, “We’ve got a bunch of underdogs on our team, and we’ll be an underdog again.”

• Cornerback Chris Harris will miss the rest of the Broncos’ playoff run after an MRI showed he had a torn ACL in his left knee that will require surgery and at least six months of rehab.

“There’s no doubt he’s one of our better performers on defense throughout this season, but ... we’ve lost some pretty good performers throughout the season and this team’s been resilient,” coach John Fox said.

Harris was injured in the third quarter of Denver’s 24-17 win over San Diego on Sunday.

• Minnesota has moved into the homestretch of its search for a coach and Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has emerged as a favorite.



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