January 05, 2004
IN THE BACKFIELD: Watching the Titans
BY: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
After beating the Baltimore Ravens last Saturday night, the Tennessee Titans are starting to feel confident about their chances during the postseason.
For the Titans they're now hoping that confidence can help carry them further heading into their game this weekend against the Patriots. Despite a rash of injuries that includes runningback Eddie George suffering a separated shoulder against the Ravens, Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher says that being in the postseason changes everything. Whatever bumps and bruises they may have likely won't matter by Saturday night, and his players should be ready to go.
"In a regular-season game our training room would probably be loaded right now," Fisher told the Tennessee media yesterday. "Things don't hurt as much after a win like that, they don't linger as long. The players are really looking forward to going on."
Among the injured for Tennessee are running back Eddie George (shoulder), quarterback Steve McNair (ankle, calf), cornerback Samari Rolle (concussion) and long snapper Ken Amato (ankle, hamstring).
Fisher told the media he didn't believe his team's overall health had taken a step backward, however.
"We're in really good shape," Fisher said. "Eddie is really the only concern and Eddie finished the game."
"Samari is okay, he felt good. If he runs around tomorrow and has some difficulty we may hold him back a little bit but he cleared up completely this morning and felt fine."
George, who suffered a separated left shoulder while making a tackle after an interception by Mcnair in the second quarter against the Ravens, finished the game. Fisher said his runningback underwent an MRI yesterday morning which showed no additional damage to the joint other than the strained ligaments caused by the separation.
"Eddie has much more movement in his shoulder than we anticipated," said Fisher. "He's sore, there's not anything structurally wrong, which is good. He's got some swelling. There's some ligament strains and things, but he didn't knock a piece off or whatever, so he's actually very fortunate."
"We'll probably shut him down for a couple days, rest him, treat it, try to get the swelling out of there, get it to tighten it up a little bit and he'll be ready to go with a harness this weekend. So I'd be surprised if he didn't practice later in the week, which is good."
Fisher also said he doesn't expect the harness to inhibit his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
As for McNair Fisher said, "His calf was a little sore, but he wasn't really too bad. He didn't re-injure anything with the calf and the ankle. He had a little bit of swelling in the ankle but he seems to be OK, and I would think he'll practice this week."
During their match-up back on October 5th where Tennessee lost 38-30 in Foxboro back on October 5th, the Patriots beat them despite being without eight starters. But the Titans weren't exactly at full strength either. They were without linebacker Peter Sirumon, forcing linebackers Keith Bulluck and Rocky Boiman to play different positions. They also lost cornerback Samari Rolle on the fourth play of the game.
Fisher says his team is healthy now on defense and expects that to help them significantly. But he's also aware that New England was without many of their own players that day and will still be tough to beat. New England's running game was very effective that day with runningbacks Antowain Smith carrying 16-times for 80-yards and a touchdown, while Mike Cloud carried 7-times for 73-yards and two scores. Looking back his team was embarrassed when they watched the tape.
"They had some injuries as well, but they ran the ball very well against us, which was embarrassing when we looked at the tape," said Fisher. "But we have corrected those things since then. They spread us out with three wide receivers."
"[They] can throw it very well in addition to running it," Fisher told the Tennessean. "We're going to have to play a balanced defense."
Meanwhile according to the Boston Herald the Patriots were asked by the NFL to put in a new surface at Gillette Stadium after the league apparently wasn't too happy with the condition of it. When asked about the complaints some people had apparently made about the playing surface in New England Fisher didn't seem too worried about it.
"It's an 8:15 Eastern game and I'm sure it will be snowing," said Fisher. "Conditions will be perfect.
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