Training Camp CentralNASHVILLE, Tenn. - Kevin Mawae has been running, slinging giant ropes and pushing against sleds by himself on a side field during training camp while his Tennessee teammates practice.
The All Pro center is rehabilitating after offseason surgery to repair his torn right triceps tendon. His aim is to get ready for the NFL season opener Sept. 10 at Pittsburgh, and finish this season healthy.
"Obviously, I'd like to be there for the regular season, and that's what the ultimate goal is. To be there for the season opener and the 16 weeks following that,'' Mawae said. "I'd like to get some time in at the end of the preseason just in time to knock some of the rust off.''
No current NFL offensive lineman has played more games than Mawae's 225 in 15 seasons. But an injured calf kept him out of the final two games of 2007, including a wild-card playoff loss at San Diego, and that torn tendon kept him out of the final two games of 2008, including a 13-10 divisional playoff loss to Baltimore.
Mawae, who turned 38 in January, is coming off one of his best seasons. He was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl and named an All Pro after anchoring an offensive line that set a franchise record and tied for the NFL-low with 12 sacks. The Titans also finished seventh in the league in yards rushing with 2,199 yards.
He got hurt Dec. 21 in a 31-14 win over Pittsburgh and delayed surgery in case the Titans, who posted an NFL-best 13-3 record, reached the Super Bowl. Mawae worked at trying to snap with a brace so he could get on the field for one play if that happened.
After the loss to Baltimore, Mawae had surgery to fix his arm and started a long rehab process that involved regaining flexibility, then rebuilding the strength in his arm.
That is why Mawae started camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list with Leroy Harris working in his place on the first-team offensive line. Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Monday that Mawae is improving but isn't quite ready yet.
"He can get done what he needs to get done to get prepared to play on the practice field,'' Fisher said.
Mawae sees his absence as a plus for players like Harris, a fourth-round draft pick in 2007 out of North Carolina who is likely to be his eventual successor at center. Harris called the chance to work this offseason and through camp with the first-team line invaluable experience.
For Mawae, fitting back in will be relatively simple.
He has worked with most of the Titans' line and starting quarterback Kerry Collins the past three years. Right guard Jacob Scott is the only recent addition through free agency, and he started beside Mawae throughout 2008. The offense has only been tweaked by offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger going into his second season with Tennessee.
The Titans (2-0) have three preseason games left, including Friday at Dallas, at Cleveland on Aug. 29, and the finale Sept. 3 in Nashville against Green Bay. Fisher already has said he may not play his starters much, if at all, in that last game.
Mawae isn't worried if he doesn't take a few snaps in a preseason game.
"It is not my first rodeo,'' he said. "I have been around. I know what it takes and I know what my body needs. You can never duplicate the conditioning you get in a game time experience in the preseason, but as long as I am staying up with the conditioning on the field I don't see it as a problem.''
NOTES: Rob Bironas attempted a 66-yard field goal in gusting winds. The ball bounced off the front of the crossbar. ... RT David Stewart sat out practice with a brace on his left knee and will miss a few days. ... The Titans healed up a bit with the return to individual work by DE Jacob Ford (hamstring), WR Mark Jones (hamstring), LB Colin Allred (ankle) and S Nick Schommer (hamstring). MLB Stephen Tulloch (right knee) ran on the side. ... Rookie WR Kenny Britt did not practice because of an ankle injury.