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Munchak becomes first of three to interview for Titans' top job

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The Tennessee Titans confirmed Monday that they interviewed offensive line coach Mike Munchak for their head-coaching position, and sources said the meeting went well.

Mike Munchak is considered the front-runner for the Tennessee Titans' head-coaching job.
Mike Munchak is considered the front-runner for the Tennessee Titans' head-coaching job. (Kevin Terrell/Associated Press)

Munchak, a Hall of Fame player who's liked by Titans owner Bud Adams, is widely considered the favorite for the job, but the team also has other interviews scheduled. The Titans will talk to offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, and former Dallas Cowboys receivers coach Ray Sherman later in the week, most likely Thursday, according to a league source.

Heimerdinger is a well-respected and established play-caller. He's also battling cancer right now and began treatment during the season.

Speaking with Sherman, who's African-American, would put the Titans in compliance with the NFL's "Rooney Rule," which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head-coaching jobs.

Munchak has worked for Adams since the then-Houston Oilers made him the eighth overall draft pick in 1982 out of Penn State. Munchak's playing career included blocking for running back Earl Campbell in a pounding ground game and quarterback Warren Moon in the run-and-shoot offense.

Munchak played in 169 games for the Oilers before retiring in 1994. He became the fifth player from the franchise inducted into the Hall of Fame -- the first who spent his entire career with the team.

Munchak had the franchise record with nine Pro Bowl berths when he quit playing, and Adams retired the lineman's No. 63 in 1996, just before the Oilers moved to Tennessee and eventually became the Titans. Only Campbell, Jim Norton and Elvin Bethea previously had their numbers retired by the franchise.

Munchak immediately went to work as an assistant coach, helping the offensive staff and working as a quality control assistant. He held that job through 1996 when coach Jeff Fisher, who parted ways with the team Thursday, promoted him to tutor the offensive line, and Munchak has held the job for 14 seasons.

As offensive line coach, Munchak has been involved with both the running and passing offenses.

"He is one of the candidates," Adams told the Tennessean on Sunday before the interview. "I think he would be a good coach, but we have to go through a procedure and interview different coaches, and there will be some good ones we talk to."

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Should he become the Titans' head coach, Munchak almost certainly would hire close friend and business partner Bruce Matthews, also a respected former player, to replace him as offensive line coach.

Munchak's offensive lines are part of the reason why the Titans lead the NFL with 14 1,000-yard rushers since 1996, a group that includes Eddie George, Chris Brown, Travis Henry, LenDale White and now Chris Johnson. That also includes Johnson's performance in 2009 as just the sixth man in NFL history to run for at least 2,000 yards in a season.

The Titans have had the luxury of spending few high draft picks on offensive linemen because of Munchak's ability to groom them into top players. Michael Roos is the highest lineman drafted, taken in the second round in 2006. All he has done with Munchak is start every game, sliding from right tackle as a rookie to left tackle.

Munchak's other starters this season included center Eugene Amano, a seventh-round pick in 2004. Right tackle David Stewart, a 2006 fourth-round pick, has missed only one start since joining the rotation later that season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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