It’s not so much the extra preseason game that will dictate changes in the Tennessee Titans preseason plans.
Instead, according to Coach Jeff Fisher, it is the fact that the Titans open the regular season just seven days after facing the Green Bay Packers Thursday night that necessitates the team’s starters playing less than usual this week.
The Titans starters, including quarterback Kerry Collins, are likely to play a series or two before retiring to the bench in favor of backups, some of who hope to use one final chance as a means to playing their way onto the 53-man roster.
“Typically speaking, as you know we’ve had four preseason games,” Fisher said. “We’ve played our starters longer in the fourth and final preseason game, that’s not going to be the case. This is the fifth, and we don’t have the extra three days to prepare. They will not be in the game through halftime and the third quarter.”
The Titans changed their schedule this week, including not having a Monday practice in order to allow the players to rest.
“This week’s going to be a real challenge for us. [Sunday] will be ‘Wednesday’ of a normal game week, and we’ll be installing our game plan a week from today,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a lot of things that we have to accomplish. First and foremost, I think we need to rest.”
There is another test for the Titans this week, as it involves cutdown days. Tennessee must trim four players from its roster on Tuesday, and then must be down to 53 players by 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday. An eight-man practice squad can be added to the team on Sunday.
“Saturday is a day off and Sunday morning we have the practice squad back and we’ll be in a Wednesday game week,” Fisher said.
Looking for help?
Fisher did not rule out the Titans scouring the waiver wire for help on the roster, especially depth-wise.
Need areas would seem to be secondary help behind the starters, given the combination of Ryan Mouton’s ankle injury, and the struggles of the other backup players in the secondary in coverage.
The return game is also another area the Titans might be tempted to look for help, though Fisher said Sunday he expects the team’s return man to come from someone already on the roster.
Currently, Mark Jones, Mouton, Jason McCourty and Javon Ringer are candidates on kickoffs, while Jones, Mouton, Tuff Harris and Rafael Little are punt return hopefuls.
“We’re going to look at the wire for depth all over the roster. It really remains to be seen. There may be somebody that comes up on Tuesday at four o’clock, we just don’t know,” Fisher said.