By The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan is saying all the right things after bolting training camp upset over contract talks, and he’s busy apologizing to his bosses, teammates, fans and even the media for leaving camp Friday night.
Finnegan also said Monday he will pay his fine willingly for missing a day of camp. And he admitted he was upset over talks for an extension, which was the personal issue he mentioned defending himself on Twitter on Sunday before returning to work.
“I took negotiations, what they do, personally, and I shouldn’t have, and it affected everyone in the community and the team,” Finnegan said Monday after practice. “I deeply regret that.”
Finnegan left Friday night and missed Saturday’s practice capping the opening week of training camp. Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said after the session they were surprised Finnegan had left considering they were in talks over an extension and had just received a counterproposal from Finnegan’s agent after practice Friday.
Both Reinfeldt and new coach Mike Munchak said they hadn’t heard from Finnegan and would report him to the NFL as having left camp.
The cornerback was a seventh-round pick out of Samford in 2006 who became a starter in 2007. The Titans extended his contract in August 2008, and he is going into the final year of that deal making more than $3.7 million this season.
He said he was upset by what was said in the talks and wanted to head home to talk with his wife before his next move. His departure had teammates worried, calling to check on him.
“Was it wrong? Absolutely. But it was something that I needed to talk about with her. I wanted to sit down and have a game plan moving forward,” Finnegan said.
Finnegan stood before reporters after practice Monday and started off by apologizing to reporters he had accused on Twitter of having the story wrong. He also said he understands he was a distraction to his team with a new coach and that wasn’t needed.
“I can’t let my team down like that,” he said.
The cornerback reported back for camp before curfew Sunday night, and he talked with Munchak, the new head coach, on Monday.
“I apologized to him tremendously just for wanting me here still is big, and I appreciate him,” Finnegan said.
Munchak said Finnegan will be fined, though the coach wouldn’t say how much. The new CBA allows players to be fined $30,000 for each day of camp missed.
“We feel we’ve got things under control, and we’re ready to move forward, and like I said, he missed Saturday. He’ll be accountable for his actions that day,” Munchak said.
Asked if Finnegan would be punished further by the team, Munchak said no.
“He knows that’s not the way to handle the situation in the future, and if something happens in the future maybe it’ll be different,” the coach said. “But for now, I think we did what we needed to do and time to move forward.”
Finnegan has started every game he has played in since the start of 2007. He was an All Pro and Pro Bowler in 2008.
He has 13 career interceptions but only had two in 2010 when the Titans went 6-10. Finnegan was fined by the NFL a few times in 2010, the highlight coming Nov. 28 in a fight with Houston receiver Andre Johnson when the cornerback took most of the punches and both men were fined $25,000.
Finnegan was a key leader during the NFL lockout, helping organize a two-day minicamp at a Nashville high school in June along with sessions during the negotiations. He said he knows he didn’t play to his best in 2010 and is eager to improve.
The emotional cornerback said he hopes he didn’t hurt talks with the team and appreciates Tennessee reaching out to him for contract talks considering 22 other Titans also are in the final year of their deals.
His teammates have accepted his apology.
“That’s all you can ask for from a guy when a mistake happens, when an incident happens to own up to it and not run from you guys and not run from us, and that’s what he did,” fullback Ahmard Hall said.
NOTES: LT Michael Roos (back) returned to practice Monday, and WR Kenny Britt also started working out for the first time in camp as the team is easing him back in after a tight right hamstring.