Notebook: Titans Plan Around Injuries


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Middle linebacker Colin McCarthy will miss his second straight game due to concussion symptoms, Titans coach Mike Munchak said Friday.

Munchak said McCarthy is progressing from the concussion that was diagnosed after Tennessee's game at Jacksonville on Nov. 25, but will not be ready to play when the Titans (4-8) visit the Colts (8-4).

The Titans crafted a solid plan in McCarthy's absence against Houston last week with a combination of Tim Shaw in the middle of Tennessee's base 4-3 formation and with versatile veteran Will Witherspoon in sub packages, and are likely to do similar this week. Munchak said the Titans expect the Colts to use three wide receivers often, so the Titans will also lean more heavily on an extra defensive back in the nickel package.

"Tim Shaw did a good job last week when he had to play about 40 snaps," Munchak said. "I think this week these guys play a little more three-wide receiver stuff, so it won't be maybe as many reps this week because you'll play more nickel there."

Munchak said he was disappointed for McCarthy, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener that caused him to miss four-and-a-half games before the concussion.

"It's been a tough year for Colin," Munchak said. "We've talked about it quite a bit. Since the first week of having problems and now this part, it's been frustrating for the team, for him, but that's unfortunately how it's been this year. You have to get through it."

Akeem Ayers, a 2011 rookie classmate of McCarthy, said the Titans are a "better defense with him, but we have to move on and try to be consistent on defense."

"He's the starting linebacker for a reason," Ayers said. "He can make a lot of things happen but as a group we feel if someone comes in, we'll still be able to play solid defense."

The Titans fell to the Colts 19-13 in overtime in the first meeting, and the teams have been on different trajectories since ending regulation of that game as equals. Indianapolis has gone 4-1 since, and Tennessee has gone 1-3.

"You've got to find a way to win the game, and unfortunately we were on the opposite end of that," Ayers said. "They found a way to win the game, instead, which they've been doing all year long."

PRESTON ELEVATED: Injuries on the other side of the ball have led to an opportunity for receiver Michael Preston.

The Titans signed Preston from their practice squad Friday and waived fullback Collin Mooney. Preston could be active Sunday because Damian Williams (hamstring) is out and Lavelle Hawkins (ankle) is questionable.

"He's done a great job," Munchak said. "That kid has worked hard, he always has. I think he's really gotten better throughout this year. You know, he gives the defense a great look every practice. He works hard on special teams; he's a guy that can help you on special teams also."

Preston has been on the Titans' practice squad since joining the team as an undrafted rookie in 2011. He frequently emulates opponents' top receiving threats to give Tennessee's defensive starters good reps, but has also taken snaps recently with the first-team offense.

"It's not like all of a sudden, he'd be thrown into the fire," Munchak said. "He hasn't been activated because he's obviously on practice squad, but he's gotten a handful of reps the last few weeks because of the injuries. He understands our offense pretty well, so I think it's something that'd be an easy transition for him."

Mooney, who joined the Titans this season as an undrafted rookie and landed on the practice squad after training camp, made his NFL debut last week against Houston in a reserve role on special teams.

DEVAN TO BE ACTIVE: Munchak said Kyle DeVan, who has been signed by the Titans four times since Oct. 31 and waived three times in that span was not in consideration to be waived this week. The Titans and DeVan have worked together so that the team could address needs created by injuries each week and stay within the 53-man limit on the active roster.

"Nope, Kyle DeVan is locked in this week because he's our swing guy this week," Munchak said. "He's safe. We have other spots, unfortunately, with the injuries we have with making some moves with (injured reserve) or flip flopping some people."

Right tackle David Stewart (broken leg) and left guard Steve Hutchinson (knee) suffered season-ending injuries against the Texans and were placed on injured reserve this week. Michael Roos also suffered a knee injury against Houston, but practiced Friday and is likely to play against the Colts, Munchak said.

The Titans plan on starting Mike Otto in place of Stewart and moving center Fernando Velasco from center to guard. Kevin Matthews, who had been the interior offensive line sub this season, will start at center, and DeVan will take Matthews' place as the "swing guy."

DeVan said he felt bad for the guys who suffered injuries, but he's experienced both sides of that situation before. DeVan made 24 starts (including Super Bowl XLVI) as a member of the Colts in 2009 and 2010.

"The beauty of the NFL is it's always the next guy, DeVan said. "It's always been that way and always will be. I've been the starter who got hurt, and I've been the backup who got to go in, so I understand both sides of the story, and no matter what, whoever's in, whoever's out, they just want the best for the team. So this week, we're just trying to do the best we can to put the best offensive line together so this team can go out there and win the game."

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