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Camp Notebook: Colin McCarthy Returns for Drills & Scout Team Work

Posted Aug 22, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans welcomed linebacker Colin McCarthy back to the practice field Thursday for the first time in three weeks but are exercising patience before putting him back in the lineup.

“It was good to get back out there with the guys and practice a little bit,” McCarthy said. “It felt good. I feel good out there. I think the trainers kind of helped me back. It’s obviously a process I’m going through with them and it’s just football. It’s the preseason. Obviously we’re going into the third game and Minnesota after that. My main goal is to be ready in week one and I don’t see why I won’t be.

Colin McCarthy (52) returned to the practice field for some activities Thursday for the first time in three weeks. The Titans are hoping he will play some against Minnesota to prepare for the regular season.
Click here for a slideshow from Thursday's practice.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said McCarthy did individual linebacker drills and some scout team work and will likely do the same Friday as Tennessee prepares to host Atlanta at 7 p.m. Saturday at LP Field in the third preseason game for both teams.

McCarthy, who hadn’t practiced since developing a hamstring issue on Aug. 1, won’t play against the Falcons, but the Titans are hoping he’ll play some against Minnesota to get some in-game experience for the first time in several months before opening the season at Pittsburgh on Sept. 8.

“I think it’s important for him,” Munchak said. “I think it’s been awhile since he’s played because of all the things he went through last year. This year I think he came in thinking he would get an opportunity to get all that behind him and that got put on hold. So, I think for him and for us it’s important for him to go out and play. So, I know he’s looking forward to it. I think he was hoping he could have played this week. If we pushed it harder, maybe he could. That’s not really worth it, and this will give him another seven to nine days to be ready to play. I think he’ll feel good coming out of that game next week.”

McCarthy had a strong preseason in 2012 after earning the starting middle linebacker spot during his rookie season. He was named a captain, and Munchak said the Titans viewed him as “the MVP of our defense” from his work a year ago. McCarthy, however, suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener that lingered and was diagnosed with a concussion after Tennessee’s Nov. 25 game at Jacksonville that cost him the rest of the season.

Tennessee started four different middle linebackers in 2012 and brought in Moise Fokou this offseason. Fokou started the first two preseason games and is expected to start against Atlanta. The timing of the hamstring, although it delayed McCarthy’s original schedule, enabled McCarthy to avoid rushing back before he was ready.

“That’s what I did last year. I came back from the ankle in three weeks, where high ankles take four to six,” McCarthy said. “They knew I wasn’t 100 percent, and I didn’t feel like I should be out there, but the team needed me so I was out there. I think we learned from that, the trainers and coaches. It was their decision to hold me back as much as they’ve been, which feels good to have them on my side, not pushing me, not forcing me to be out there and resting, taking care of myself and making sure I’m ready to go out there, fly around and make plays. That’s what I’m excited to be back doing, and I feel like once that comes around, I’ll be doing that so there’s no frustration, there’s no anger, more just excited to get out there and play.”

DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES: Saturday’s game will mark the third time in as many seasons that the Titans and Falcons have taken the same field in a different capacity. The teams met during the 2011 regular season (a 23-17 win by Atlanta) at the Georgia Dome and held a joint practice near Dalton, Ga., during training camp last year.

McCourty said the Titans are looking forward to the next challenge.

“When you’re going against an offense like that, that has that type of explosiveness and that type of athletes, you know you’ve got to compete and as a secondary we’re going to have to come to play Saturday night,” McCourty said.

Will the background of how the Titans and Falcons measured up help in assessing where Tennessee currently is?

“We’ll see on Saturday. We’ve got to keep going,” McCourty said. “It does help that we’ve seen some of their guys perform. We’ve seen some of that offense. With it being the preseason we don’t know how much they’re going to show, but I think the main thing is focus on us and what we need to improve and make sure we go out there and work on that.”

WALKER DOING ‘MORE AND MORE’:  Munchak said the Titans are thinking that tight end Delanie Walker (knee) will make his debut in a Tennessee uniform at Minnesota. Walker, who signed with the Titans after seven seasons in San Francisco, returned to the practice fields this week.

“He’s doing a good job. He’s doing more and more every day,” Munchak said. “He hasn’t done a lot of the offense, other than the 7-on-7. When we’re doing our plays for the Atlanta games he’s stayed out of that, too, and done more of the show team so he can get his confidence up and his tempo and his pace.”

INTERIOR PLAN: Munchak said Wednesday that Rob Turner would start at center against Atlanta and added Thursday that Fernando Velasco will replace Chance Warmack at right guard and Chris Spencer will replace Andy Levitre at left guard in the third quarter. Munchak said the plan is still for rookie Brian Schwenke to make his NFL debut in relief of Turner at center. Schwenke has recovered from a hamstring.

“He’s a guy that’s trying to get his legs under him now,” Munchak said. “He’s just got to get in playing shape now. Now it’s the fact that I’m sure his legs are real heavy. He’s kind of like in his fourth or fifth training camp day mentality with his body after the last couple days. We need him out there, and he kind of needs to play through it. We need to see him against somebody else, and we haven’t had the chance to do that yet.”

SIDELINED: In addition to McCarthy and Walker, Akeem Ayers (ankle), Zach Brown (foot), Kendall Wright (knee), Marc Mariani (shoulder), Sammie Hill (elbow), Ropati Pitoitua (hand), Quinn Johnson (hamstring), Zaviar Gooden (ankle) and Markelle Martin (hamstring) have been ruled out this week.

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