NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – If the Titans are going to end their two-game losing streak Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, they will once again have to overcome an overwhelming injury situation.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel ruled out a slew of vital players, “ Denico Autry, Tre Avery, Kristian Fulton, Treylon Burks, David Long Jr. and C.J. Board.”
While Autry is missing his third straight game, Long, Fulton, Avery, Burks and Board were all injured last week in Philadelphia.
Burks is out after being concussed on a 25-yard touchdown catch. He has been a key contributor since returning from turf toe and the Titans passing attack has struggled mightily without him.
Titans Leading Receivers:
- Treylon Burks – 25 Rec. 359 Yards, TD
- Robert Woods – 33 Rec. 357 Yards, TD
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine – 19 Rec. 347 Yards, 2 TD’s
Woods has to step up for Tennessee. The Titans sent a sixth round pick for Woods and talk on his $10-million salary.
Woods appeared to make a speedy recovery from a torn ACL last season, but he has failed to make much of an impact for the Titans. In the Titans last 7 games, Woods has only 16 receptions for 153 yards. That averages about 2 catches for about 22 yards a game. As I stated, the Titans need more.
While Burks is down this week, the Titans did get back Racey McMath after missing the first twelve games with a hip injury and Vrabel liked what he saw. “He has been fantastic. He started getting back in the meetings a couple of weeks ago. We traveled him to Philly last week just so that he can get back, get around the team, and start to study the gameplans that are going in.”
While McMath’s return is a positive, reality is he only has two career catches and thoughts of him exploding in to the seen would appear to be folly.
“I like Racey (McMath) a lot.” said quarterback Ryan Tannehill, “We will see how he fits and where we want to attack with him. He is a big, strong, and fast guy. He has a lot of range and was having a good camp before he went down with the injury.”
Reality is that the Titans will not beat the Jaguars with their passing game, they have to find a way to get Derrick Henry going on the ground. Henry is averaging only 2.8 yards per carry over the last four games with just one touchdown.
Henry has struggled to gain any momentum because he has constantly been met in the backfield by defenders, and has not been able to make a third or fourth step without contact.
The Titans offensive line has to regain its push against a Jaguar defense ranked 14th against the run.
NFL Run Defenses–
- San Francisco- 75.6 Yards Per Game
- Baltimore – 82.5 Yards Per Game
- Tennessee – 83.1 Yards Per Game
Defensively, the Titans are incredibly thin at cornerback with Fulton and Avery down, and Elijah Molden and Caleb Farley both already on injured reserve.
Jacksonville’s quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, appears to be making strides under new coach Doug Pederson and new receiver Christian Kirk is hanging a strong season with 62 receptions, 829 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The Titans run defense will also be challenged by the loss of middle linebacker David Long Jr who was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
As if the injuries were not enough, the Titans are also having to deal with a massive distraction after general manager Jon Robinson was fired Tuesday.
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Tannehill said they can not let it be an issue, “It definitely adds another layer to the week, but as professionals we have to be able to get past that. We face all types of adversity throughout the season and different distractions that come up through different reasons. As professionals, it is our job to be able to put that stuff aside, focus on the task at hand, be able to prepare, go out, and play a great game on Sunday.”
On Friday, Vrabel said his guys came through the distraction “great” on the practice field. If they can find a way to overcome all of the obstacles and beat the Jaguars, they will eliminate Jacksonville from the AFC South race and lower their magic number with the Colts down to one.