View Full Version : Titans have Hope for Super Bowl run

12-20-2008, 04:41 PM
Titans have Hope for Super Bowl run
By Gary Estwick Gannett Tennessee December 20, 2008

Chris Hope has a lot of great memories of his days with the tradition-rich Pittsburgh Steelers.

He remembers how the atmosphere resembled that of a high school, as if guys grew up next door to one another and knew everything about their teammates.

He remembers how so many egos and attitudes meshed and made the game the priority. No player was more important than the task.

Guys did things the right way not because it made them popular, but because it was the right thing to do. They celebrated when teammates played well and grieved when they struggled.

The veteran strong safety will face his old team for the first time when the Titans (12-2) play the Steelers (11-3) in an important AFC game Sunday at LP Field.

"When you've been here and you were drafted here, your relationships grow and you have some close friends," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said this week. "Then when you move to a different organization you have to rekindle that all over again. But Chris stays close and in contact. In our opinion, he's still one of us. He's just playing for the Tennessee Titans."

After the Steelers won Super Bowl XL to cap the 2005 season, Hope became a free agent and signed with the Titans to lead a young secondary.

Three seasons later he said the Titans are "still missing a few pieces" on their road to becoming one of the league's best teams every year. Missing elements include constant attention to details something he said was missing last week as the Titans prepared for the Texans, who pulled off a 13-12 upset.

"I think we're heading in the right direction," Hope said. "We have good chemistry, a good group of guys, young and old. We just have to continue to work and push each other. It starts at practice. We have to realize we can't just turn it on on Sundays."

There is a reason, Hope said, that so many Steelers past and present reach the Pro Bowl. This season safety Troy Polamalu and linebackers James Harrison and James Farrior are going to Hawaii. So are former Steelers guard Alan Faneca (Jets), linebacker Joey Porter (Dolphins) and Hope, who's going for the first time.

"I watch film and look at myself in the mirror and say it worked this week, but next week it might hurt us," Hope said. "When you have a group of guys who all really care how well they play on top of whether we win or lose, that speak volumes for how well your team will play."

He also cited the Steelers as an example of how good teams find a way to win, something the Titans did several times during their 10-0 start.

"They've won their last five games," Hope said, "but four of those games they won on the final plays."

Hope's first Pro Bowl berth is the result of his four interceptions, 84 tackles and a sack. Making the feat even more impressive is that last November he was flat on the turf at Cincinnati with a serious neck injury that kept him out of the last five regular-season games and the playoff loss to the Chargers.

The individual honor of the Pro Bowl is nice, Hope said. He is aiming, though, at the ultimate team award in the NFL, one that he earned a part of in Pittsburgh and wants to bring to Nashville

12-21-2008, 10:11 AM