First-year Titans head coach Mike Munchak won't have the opportunity to continue working with quarterback Kerry Collins, who announced his retirement last week after a 16-year career that included five seasons in Tennessee. But that didn't stop Munchak from heaping praise on Collins, whom he described as one of the more undervalued players in the NFL.
"(Collins) was great to have around, not just for young quarterbacks, but for all of us on the offensive side," Munchak told The Tennessean on Wednesday. "People never realized the value of someone like him on your roster."
As the Titans' offensive line coach for 14 seasons before being promoted to head coach, Munchak closely worked with Collins, who was a valuable asset for the coaching staff.
"We ended up having a great working relationship when he came here," Munchak said. "Line coaches work hand in hand with quarterbacks. I learned a lot from him from the standpoint of what quarterbacks look at, and that helped me with protections and things we worked on through the week."
Collins threw for 40,441 yards -- good for 11th on the NFL's all-time list behind a group that includes Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, John Elway, Warren Moon, Fran Tarkenton, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe, Dan Fouts and Joe Montana. Collins recorded 206 touchdowns and 195 interceptions in 195 career games.
Collins was selected out of Penn State by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 1995 draft and took them to the NFC Championship Game in his second season. Collins later helped lead the New York Giants to the Super Bowl in 2000, but they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. He went on to spend two seasons with the Oakland Raiders before finishing his career with the Titans.
"He may have done it quietly for some people, but for me ... he's someone I've always watched from the time he played in college to the time he got in the league," Munchak said. "What he did at Carolina with an expansion team, and then with the Raiders -- we played against them there, and I saw the numbers he was putting up against this team then. Then I saw it obviously firsthand with us."
Collins, 38, enjoyed his best season with the Titans in 2008, when he took over for an injured Vince Young and started 15 games, going 12-3 as the team won the AFC South. Collins then signed a two-year, $15 million contract that expired after the 2010 season.
Collins shared the stage with Young last season despite suffering injuries to his middle finger and thumb. Collins took over for good after Young suffered a season-ending injury to his right thumb Nov. 21, though the Titans only won one of their final six games in finishing 6-10.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.