Published November 20, 2014
Michael Roos has started every single game for the Tennessee Titans since being drafted in the second round back in 2005, a streak now in peril of ending at 119 straight — even NFL players have to heal after emergency appendectomies.
On Monday the left tackle had his appendix removed.
He played through discomfort in last week's 35-34 win at Buffalo. When Roos returned home, he couldn't sleep and finally headed to the hospital at 4 a.m. where he met a team doctor. Roos watched practice Wednesday and Thursday and is being checked daily by a doctor before the Titans (3-4) play the Colts (3-3) on Sunday.
Roos said his streak, which is second among active offensive tackles to Jeff Backus of Detroit (181), is a source of pride.
"Always want to keep something like that going, but can't do anything too disastrous to my health going forward," Roos said. "If it means sitting out a week or two to be ready for the rest of the season, that's something I'll have to do. We'll just see each day."
The 6-foot-7, 320-pound Roos is believed to be the first NFL player born in Estonia, and he stepped right into the starting lineup for Tennessee after coming out of Eastern Washington in 2005. He played his first game at right tackle before switching to the left side where he's been ever since. He's a key reason why the Titans rank second only Indianapolis and New Orleans giving up 168 sacks since 2005.
But Roos hasn't been challenged with having surgery on a Monday and trying to play that Sunday. Looking at how other NFL players have recovered from appendectomies before returning to play is no guide either.
"We'll see," Roos said. "Obviously, I've never done it before. It's been different amounts of time for different people. All I can do is take it day by day and see how it goes ..."
Titans coach Mike Munchak, who coached Roos before being promoted to head coach in February 2011, knows the tackle has a high tolerance for pain. For now, the Titans are planning on Mike Otto, a lineman in his fifth NFL season, starting at left tackle in his first action in a game this season.
"If something changes with Mike, great," Munchak said of Roos.
Matt Hasselbeck said he would never count out Roos from what he's seen of the left tackle, though nobody is pressuring him. Hasselbeck did joke that no one cared when Otto went down in practice last week and it was big news when the lineman went down Wednesday. The veteran quarterback said the Titans re-signed Otto for a reason for just these situations.
"He's a tough player, a smart player and obviously just like all of us who are in a backup job at a point, your whole job is to be ready when called upon," said Hasselbeck, making his fourth start with Jake Locker recovering from a shoulder injury. "If he's called upon, which it looks like he might be, he's got to be ready. And he will."
The 6-5, 310-pound Otto was a seventh-round draft pick by Tennessee out of Purdue in 2007, and he has played mostly on special teams in 41 games. Otto has two starts to his credit. He was an extra tight end Nov. 21, 200, against Washington to open the game, and he started at right tackle when David Stewart was hurt Nov. 27, 2011 against Tampa Bay.
Otto hasn't played yet this season after having knee surgery then, surgery to fix his right ring finger this preseason. Munchak said they likely will help Otto out with an extra blocker to get him comfortable.
"That's the role, the reserve, the backup, that he's got to step into," Munchak said. "Unfortunately, it's a game where he'd be going against Dwight Freeney, which is another tough draw. To me, he's one of the best defensive ends in football, has been for a long time. So that's another issue on top of just playing, you're playing against a guy that's pretty darn good in a game that we have to win."
Otto grew up in Kokomo, Ind., rooting for the Colts and watched plenty of Freeney harassing quarterbacks.
"If I get the chance to go out and play against him, that's what I'll do," Otto said.
Notes: TE Craig Stevens (concussion) practiced for a second day along with Chris Johnson (ankle). S Jordan Babineaux (wrist) also practiced fully with WR Kenny Britt (knee). Locker was limited again. LB Colin McCarthy (right ankle) did not work after practicing Wednesday, and Munchak said they expect him to play Sunday.
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