Rested Titans eager to start on Destination: Tampa



The Titans are hoping to get defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch back against Joe Flacco and the Ravens.
So the Titans are keeping it simple.

It's one game at a time, or the exact same approach that got them the NFL's best record at 13-3 and the AFC's No. 1 seed.

"If you don't win, you're done and we want to win,'' running back LenDale White said. "That's all that's on our minds.''

Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher echoed that theme.

"We need to do the same things we did that got us here, and that's prepare, respect your opponent and prepare hard with the exception of trying to do things just a little bit better,'' Fisher said.

Not nearly as exciting as the physically punishing games these teams have played over the years since their AFC Central days, a series so tight it's tied at 9 overall with each team winning on each other's home field in the playoffs. Baltimore (12-5) earned a rematch and a chance for the edge in this rivalry by beating Miami 27-9 on Sunday.

But it's Baltimore's 24-10 win in the divisional playoffs after the 2000 season that hurt most. That came in an eerily similar situation with the Titans also 13-3 and seeded first in the AFC. Fisher tried to defuse and downplay the intense history between these teams Monday.

"There's been some great matchups,'' he said. "It's a great rivalry, but those things that took place in the past are really not going to have any impact on what's going to happen.''

That divisional loss put Tennessee among the 18 No. 1 seeds since 1990 who wasted home-field advantage in the postseason. Not since 2003 has a top-seeded team won the Super Bowl, and that was New England. Four of the last eight reached the Super Bowl only to lose, including the Patriots last season.

White said the Titans have been waiting for this moment.

"We do all this work, all the offseason work,'' he said. "You go out and bust your tail ... Some blood shed sometimes, even tears shed. You do all that to get to this point. You've go to turn this into something great. I want to be remembered as somebody great. Nobody remembers second place.

"So there's only one thing to go, and that's to win the Super Bowl.''

The Titans split the final six games to finish the regular season. But they became only the fourth team to lead their division from start to finish since 1978 when the NFL went to a 16-game schedule, clinching their second AFC South title. The other three all played for conference championships with the 2007 Patriots losing in the Super Bowl.

This is where the Titans hope to tap into the collective experience of veterans brought in over the past three years who have played for titles.

Safety Chris Hope won his Super Bowl ring with Pittsburgh in 2005 and said players must realize it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"You have to look at it from that perspective and go out every day and play like it's your last time playing,'' Hope said. "Take nothing for granted. You can't get too tense or too scared.''

Fisher brought his Titans back Monday for a short workout on their indoor field. Asked if Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth or end Kyle Vanden Bosch took part, Fisher said only that he still expects them to practice this week as Haynesworth recovers from a sprained left knee and Vanden Bosch from minor groin surgery on Dec. 16.

The biggest question remains the health and status of Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae who hurt his right elbow in the fourth quarter of the Titans' 31-14 win over Pittsburgh on Dec. 21. Fisher said Mawae will be day-to-day and that he didn't know if the center would be on the field as soon as Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch.

If Mawae can't play, second-year lineman Leroy Harris would be in line for his second NFL start - first in the playoffs.

"Leroy is equipped to play and play well if Kevin can't play,'' Fisher said.

The Titans also made a roster move Monday, releasing defensive tackle Amon Gordon to free up a space for Kevin Vickerson.

The team had a one-week exemption to decide what to do with Vickerson once he finished serving his four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances. His agent said at the time that Vickerson had tested positive for a diuretic.

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