Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel dispelled any thought that the Titans will coast to the finish of their struggling season Monday.
He fired special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman after an overtime loss to Indianapolis that thinned the Titans' anemic playoff hopes, a game lost in part due to a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown with their record-setting punter knocked out for the season on his next attempt.
“I felt like the timing was what it needed to be,” Vrabel said in announcing that special teams assistant Tom Quinn will take over for the rest of this season.
Vrabel made the move with the Titans (4-8) now having to find a punter to replace Ryan Stonehouse who will be having season-ending surgery on his left, non-kicking leg.
As a rookie, Stonehouse set an NFL single-season record for gross yards per punt that had stood since 1940.
“Certainly don't want to lose a player, and that's unfortunate,” Vrabel said.
Stonehouse also holds on field goals and extra points, and veteran Nick Folk missed his first extra point of the season with backup quarterback and holder Ryan Tannehill filling in.
That cost the Titans a 26-25 lead late in regulation.
Asked about the mistakes, Vrabel said the Titans just have to be better moving forward. They haven't been eliminated officially, but they stood ahead of only New England (2-10) in the AFC standings Monday.