NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans have had considerable balance on offense in their past two games, but will go with what they think will work best against the Bears on Sunday.
Tennessee has had 52 rush attempts and 62 pass attempts in the past two weeks but tailor the game plan each week according to the opponent.
Chicago ranks first in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (77.9), 18th in passing yards (238.1 per game) and seventh overall (316 yards per game). Bears opponents have one rushing touchdown and six passing scores this season.
Chris Johnson, who has rushed for an NFL-best 385 yards since Week 6 said running against Chicago will be a "tough task" but added "I feel like if we do what we've got to do we should have some success."
"They like to play a lot of eight-man in the box," Johnson said. "I'm pretty sure when we play against them, they're going to have eight down there, so if the passing game can make some plays and back some of those guys up, we should be good."
Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer said the plan adjusts game by game.
"Against certain defenses, you're going to feature different guys because of the matchups," Palmer said. "You're constantly adjusting, and you hope everyone understands that."
Jared Cook said it will be important for tight ends and receivers to run precise routes against Chicago, but added the Titans have seen some opportunities where they can attack the Bears.
"We were watching that on film, just getting in and out of our routes, getting our route depth, and getting over the top of the linebackers because a lot of times they move up," Cook said. "Being able to get open against these guys is a key because they have a good secondary. We've seen that. We just have to make sure we're precise in our route depths and precise in running the right routes."
Completing passes early and often may lead Chicago to pull a safety off run support and leave seven players closer to Johnson. Matt Hasselbeck, who will make his fifth consecutive start at quarterback in place of injured second-year pro Jake Locker, has been extremely accurate early. Hasselbeck completed his first eight attempts at Buffalo, and his first five against Indianapolis.
Hasselbeck and Johnson said the Bears, who have 15 combined Pro Bowls by linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, play with speed and play well together.
"The defense understands the concepts, they've had continuity, they've been running this defense for 10 years or something like that," Hasselbeck said. "They're not afraid to go make plays."
Added Johnson: "They've got a lot of veterans, smart guys, over there. There's not too many times they make mistakes, so it's a situation where we're going to have to execute our plays, the quarterback is going to have to know when to check out of the run."
LUTUI TO START AT RIGHT GUARD: Titans coach Mike Munchak said Friday that Deuce Lutui will start at right guard in place of Leroy Harris, who suffered a knee injury on the Titans' opening possession against the Colts.
It will be the first time Lutui, a seven-year NFL veteran, has been active this season since joining the Titans in September. Lutui, however, has 72 career starts and 93 games of experience at right guard.
Munchak said coaches have been pleased with Lutui, and starting him at the post where he has so much experience will allow Tennessee to use Kevin Matthews as the "swing guy," who would come in if the Titans suffered an injury at either guard position or center. Matthews relieved Harris against Indianapolis, and drew credit from coaches. It is unclear how long Harris will be sidelined.
"Since this could be a week, could be two weeks, whatever it may be, we think the best thing to do is go with Deuce," Munchak said. "He has quite a few starts in the league. He's very comfortable playing right guard, that's the position he's played his whole career at Arizona. That way, Kevin can still swing two spots, so if something would happen, we don't have to make double moves or put more on him to be able to play multiple positions and get ready for the game plan."
Lutui said he is anxious about the start and wants to deliver for teammates.
"I'll do my best to not miss a beat and really be ready this Sunday," Lutui said. "It will be for me, you know, I've played in a lot of games, and I think the timing is perfect for me to be in this situation to compete and step for the team and (do) what the team needs me for."
Center Fernando Velasco (concussion) and right tackle David Stewart (knee) — the two players on each side of Lutui — were on the injury report this week. Velasco practiced fully Friday and is probable for Sunday, and Stewart missed Wednesday and Thursday but practiced Friday and is questionable.
"It's adequate enough to where I think in another day or two, he'll be fine," Munchak said. "I'm sure he's a little stiff and sore, but he got through it. He'll just get used to the brace, but I think he'll be fine on Sunday."
INJURY ROUNDUP: A total of 13 players, nearly one-fourth of the roster, were on the injury report this week, but most are probable for Sunday's game.
Players listed as probable include: Kenny Britt (knee), Michael Griffin (hip), Colin McCarthy (ankle), Michael Roos (abdomen), Velasco, Nate Washington (knee) and Kamerion Wimbley (toe).
Stewart, Tommie Campbell (ankle) and Will Witherspoon (hamstring) are questionable. Locker (left shoulder) is doubtful, and Harris and Patrick Bailey (ribs) have been ruled out.