Published October 31, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Left tackle Michael Roos is practicing again and definitely wants back on the field Sunday. The shape the Tennessee offensive line is in, the Titans certainly need him Sunday with the Chicago Bears visiting.
Four of the five starting offensive linemen are on the injury report as the Titans (3-5) prepare to host Chicago (6-1). Left guard Steve Hutchinson is the only lineman not listed with center Fernando Velasco recovering from a concussion and right guard Leroy Harris and right tackle David Stewart both having hurt their right knees in last week's loss to Indianapolis.
Roos sat out last week as he recovered from an appendectomy, snapping his 119-game consecutive start streak. Now that he's had 10 days to recover, Roos may be healthier than some of his line mates.
"I always want to be out there," Roos said after practice Wednesday. "It was definitely weird to miss one. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back out there and get back with the group and see how well we can play against them."
The question is exactly who will wind up on the field Sunday against the Bears. Velasco practiced fully Wednesday, and Stewart managed to finish the game last week after both he and Harris got hurt on the same play on the opening drive. He didn't practice Wednesday, but coach Mike Munchak is hoping Stewart can practice by Friday and be available.
"He's a guy that usually rallies and can play," Munchak said of Stewart. "We should have him back. Probably the only position will be right guard."
Harris had surgery on his right knee during the offseason, which limited him during preseason. He did not return against the Colts and watched practice Wednesday. Munchak said either Kevin Matthews or Deuce Lutui would start if Harris isn't available. The good news for Tennessee is that Harris' injury doesn't look nearly as bad as the Titans feared at first.
"Guys are so different with knees and how they respond to them," Munchak said. "Now it's more of a day-to-day to see where he's at and then we can figure it out. I would think he'll definitely be playing again here sooner rather than later."
The Titans rank 12th in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass attempt and have given up 15 sacks this season. They gave up only two in the 19-13 overtime loss to Indianapolis last week even with backup Mike Otto playing in his first game this season starting for Roos and with the shuffled offensive line after Harris' injury.
Chicago coach Lovie Smith said the Titans have an excellent offensive line, and he credited both Munchak and Titans' offensive line coach Bruce Matthews.
"Their expertise is the offensive line, they're Hall of Famers, you know what you're going to get from the offensive line and the running game, so that's what we have to be mindful of this week," Smith said.
The Bears come to Tennessee with 23 sacks and rank seventh in sacks per pass attempt. Munchak said the Bears crowd the line and attack and called it a "big challenge."
Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, sacked 12 times this season, said the line shuffling is a challenge but thinks they handled it really well against Indianapolis. He credited Munchak's philosophy of having everyone get practice time on offense, something Hasselbeck wasn't used to before coming to Tennessee.
"It's not like the most crazy thing in the world when those guys have to get reps in a game," Hasselbeck said. "They play together. It's not the same five guys all the time. In that regard, I think we're well prepared for it."
Notes: Jake Locker was limited Wednesday but did practice in team drills. Munchak said the next step will be when the quarterback can handle contact with the left, non-throwing shoulder dislocated twice in the first month. ... TE Jared Cook, who reportedly asked to be traded earlier this week, was not in the locker room after practice. ... The Titans listed 13 players on the injury report Wednesday. WR Kenny Britt (knee), WR Nate Washington (knee), S Michael Griffin (hip), DE Kamerion Wimbley (toe) all practiced. LB Colin McCarthy (right ankle) was limited.
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