Harris ready to start at center if veteran Mawae can't go



If veteran Kevin Mawae (right) can't go, second-year pro Leroy Harris (64) will start at center on Saturday.
Mawae hurt his right elbow on Dec. 21 early in the fourth quarter of a 31-14 rout of Pittsburgh. He has not practiced since and declined to elaborate on the nature of the injury.

"I've always been a guy -- you don't practice, you don't play. We all know that Jeff's not necessarily that type of coach," Mawae said of Titans coach Jeff Fisher. "Our goal is to have whoever's going to be ready to play, ready to play."

Mawae said in a radio interview Tuesday that he wouldn't play Saturday. He did not practice Wednesday but wore a brace over his injured right elbow and tried snapping the ball a few times. The 15-year veteran said he snapped with his left hand in games previously in his career.

"I've just had it on just to get used to it," he said of the brace. "Day to day, normal stuff I don't have any issues. The football-minded things I've got to figure out how to work through, and it's part of the process of rehabbing and getting stronger."

Mawae also sustained an injury at the end of last season that kept him out of the Titans' wild-card loss at San Diego. If Mawae can't play, second-year lineman Leroy Harris would start.
 
"Right now I'm fortunate enough to be taking all of the reps," said Harris, who started at center in Tennessee's regular season finale at Indianapolis. "Those other guys have had 16 games to get a good feel, so this week and last week were pretty big in terms of getting all the reps and getting a good feel of the guys beside me."

The Titans set a franchise record by allowing only 12 sacks during the regular season, tied with Denver for best in the NFL. "From a personal standpoint, it's frustrating because I was brought here to be a leader of this team and help us grow to where we're at," Mawae said. "I'm not lost on the fact I'm part of why we're now 13-3. ... I think we have something special here. That's the hard part."
 
Harris, meanwhile, is excited about his opportunity.
 
"After that first snap, the nerves go down the drain," he said. "You know what to expect with this type of game right here, so there's not much to be nervous about. It's going to be a physical game and both teams are going to try to run the ball.
 
"Fortunately, I had the off-week to take reps and also the Indy week. I've been tested for a couple of weeks and had a chance to get my feet wet."

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