It is not often that David Stewart has something to say.
Almost always, though, the Tennessee Titans right tackle is something to see.
“The whole sideline watches him play,” coach Mike Munchak said Monday. “He’s a guy that if you’re on the other side you’re going to sit there and think, ‘Let’s watch Stewart here’ because he’s always doing something that’s going to entertain you.’ It’s not a premeditated type of thing. It’s just how he plays. … He’s just fun to watch because he gives you everything he has on every snap.”
Players and coaches will have to find someone else to watch for the remaining four games of the season.
The soft-spoken but hard-hitting Stewart sustained a broken leg on Tennessee’s third offensive play of Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Houston Texans at LP Field. He was taken from the field to a local hospital. Details of what was required to repair the bone were not immediately known.
It was clear, however, that Stewart, who missed just three of 106 games since the start of 2006, would not return this season. Mike Otto will start in his place, and the Titans will look to add a free agent for depth.
That means the offense will be without a player who is imposing because of his size (6-foot-7, 318 pounds) as well as with his play, which is — at best — fiery and combative and — at worst, at least according to some — dirty.
“Dave, obviously, is a physical player,” reserve lineman Kevin Matthews, who played two positions Sunday, said. “He brings a great mentality to the O-line. He’s a nine-year vet and he’s going to be missed. It’s not something that anybody wants to have to deal with but it comes up and we’re going to move on as a unit.
“We wish we had him in there but Otto is going to step up and he’s always been reliable.”
The injury not only cut short Stewart’s season it started a rash of health issues that plagued the Titans throughout Sunday’s contest.
The knee injuries sustained by left guard Steve Hutchinson and left tackle Michael Roos are not expected to have any long-term effects. Early indications are that Roos can play Sunday at Indianapolis and that Hutchinson won’t be out more than a week or two, if he misses any time.
Yet they were problematic against the Texans, who sacked quarterback Jake Locker six times and batted several balls at the line of scrimmage. For one play after Roos was injured, starting center Fernando Velasco went to right tackle, a spot he said he had not played since high school.
“When Bruce [Matthews, the offensive line coach], told me to go to right tackle it comes down to: Just suck it up,” Velasco said. “I can’t say, ‘I can’t do it coach.’ I have to be a pro and go out there and do it, no excuses and do well at it.”
Munchak, a former offensive line coach in his own right, would have preferred Stewart was there for the entire contest. The plan was for him to match up with Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, a leading contender for defensive player of the year.
In the season’s first meeting between the teams, a 38-14 Texans’ victory, Watt was credited with five tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback hurries. Stewart also was flagged for a personal foul in the third quarter of that contest.
Watt’s numbers were almost identical this time (five tackles, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and one sack) without having had to face Stewart.
“I was looking forward to this game because I thought it was going to be very fun to watch, what was going to unfold up front with him especially [on Watt] because they had a good battle last time,” Munchak said. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen.
“When you lose somebody like that it makes a huge difference.”
Now they’ll be looking for someone else to set the tone.