Line shuffle did not force Titans to scuttle plans on offense

Monday, October 29, 2012 at 11:02pm

From a personnel standpoint, things did not go as planned for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. That didn’t mean the gameplan went out the window, though.

Injuries kept one starting offensive lineman, left tackle Michael Roos, out of the contest altogether and took another, right guard Leroy Harris, less than halfway through the first quarter. Even so, the Titans put together three long scoring drives, had one of their best rushing performances held the ball longer than in any other game this season.

Whatever adjustments were required had little, if anything, to do with the fact that Tennessee lost 19-13 in overtime.

“We could have won with that group,” coach Mike Munchak said Monday. “They were playing good. They were making plays. We weren’t taken out of our offense at all, which was nice. We didn’t have to change anything we had planned.”

The Titans planned to be without Roos, who underwent an appendectomy a week ago. He had started all 119 games of his career to that point, including 113 straight at left tackle.

Veteran backup Mike Otto started in his place at a position, which occasionally required him to block Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney one-on-one. It was Otto’s second career start on the offensive line. Freeney was not credited with a tackle in the game.

“I thought Otto did exactly what we talked during the week that he would do,” Munchak said. “A guy that hadn’t played all year. I thought he did a nice job. He played against Freeney quite a bit … and I thought overall he played well.”

The loss of Harris to a right knee injury during the opening drive was unexpected. Kevin Matthews, who had 10 career appearances and one start, replaced him.

“Kevin Matthews … hadn’t played guard in a long time,” Munchak said. “I think this was maybe the first time he played other than a preseason game. I thought as the game went on he played better and better.”

Roos said Monday he expects to play Sunday against Chicago, a sentiment echoed by his coach. Harris’ status was unclear.

Already, though, the changes effectively were more than Tennessee played all of last season, when the same five starting offensive linemen started in 15 of 16 games.

Even so, the offense had scoring drives of 10, 12 and 13 plays and held the ball for a season-high 30:53. It had seven first downs rushing for the second straight week, which more than doubled the season average prior to the contest and averaged better than 4.5 yards per rush for the second straight game, a first this season.

“We ran the ball pretty well, I thought, all day,” Munchak, a long-time offensive line coach, said. “We gave up two sacks but really one was a coverage sack at the end of the game.

“… I wish we could have enjoyed that more or praised that more with a win.”


• Munchak said that “until further notice,” Matt Hasselbeck will remain the starting quarterback. The issue remains Jake Locker’s health and the fact that he has not been cleared for full contact.

“It’s not me deciding or us as a team saying, ‘Let’s put him back in,’ ” Munchak said. “It’s more medical, get the approval to move forward to the next step. … Once we get to that point then we feel he’s ready to play.”

• The coach downplayed a report Monday that tight end Jared Cook has requested a trade prior to Thursday’s deadline to make such deals.

Cook is tied for second on the team with 28 receptions and is on pace for a career-high in that regard. His 373 receiving yards already are the second-highest total of his career.

“Jared is a big part of our team,” Munchak said. “Jared has made a lot of big catches for us this season. … That’s not my decision but I don’t see that happening. I don’t see why we’d do that.”

• Munchak said he saw the forced fumble by Akeem Ayers, which was recovered Aterraun Verner, in the final minute of regulation as a great effort even if it did not show up on the stat sheet. The fumble was negated by the officials’ decision that the receiver’s forward progress had been stopped.

“That’s not why we didn’t win the game,” Munchak said. “That’s just a play we thought we had and made and we didn’t get credit for it.”