Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has been diagnosed with cancer that will require immediate chemotherapy.
Coach Jeff Fisher revealed the situation following Wednesday’s workout, which he concluded with a team prayer. Heimerdinger did not take part in the practice session, and his availability for Sunday’s game at Houston is uncertain.
“Mike is very sick,” Fisher said. “ … I don’t know whether or not he’ll be back (Thursday) or whether he’ll be here inside the facility or whether or not he’ll be able to participate in coaching this game.”
According to Fisher, Heimerdinger, 58, has been ill for three weeks and the diagnosis was made Wednesday morning. He declined to divulge the specifics of Heimerdinger’s situation.
“We have to deal with it and we have to move on,” Fisher said. “Not that we’re moving on from Mike. Mike’s on my heart; he’s been on my heart for weeks. What he’s done over the last couple weeks, considering how he’s felt, is absolutely remarkable. I mean, it’s remarkable.”
If Heimerdinger is unable to execute his duties in the immediate future, offensive line coach Mike Munchak will oversee the running game and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains will be in charge of the passing game.
Loggains is the most likely choice to call plays against the Texans, if needed.
A 30-year-old who spent the last two seasons as offensive quality control coach, he was promoted to quarterbacks coach when the staff was reshuffled in the wake of running back coach Kennedy Pola’s sudden departure in the spring.
“Dowell can handle it,” Fisher said. “He’s worked really closely with Mike directly in all installation phases. He’s worked directly with the quarterbacks. In all likelihood it will be him.
“We are going to continue with the gameplan. I will make sure this game will get called and the offense will be prepared. I just want everybody to keep Mike and his family in their prayers.”
Heimerdinger is in his second stint as the Titans’ offensive coordinator. He directed that unit from 2000 through 2004 and was re-hired in 2008 after stints with the New York Jets and Denver Broncos.
Under his direction, the franchise has had a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season twice — the only two times in history. Steve McNair, Eddie George and Derrick Mason hit those marks, respectively, in 2002 and 2003.
“I informed [the players Wednesday] morning, and they understand that they’re going to have to do a little bit extra,” Fisher said. “Everyone is going to have to do a little bit extra. Our focus is on winning the next game. That’s what we are 100 percent committed to do.”