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Munchak: Rusty Smith Continues Backup QB Role Behind Ryan Fitzpatrick

Posted Nov 19, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Munchak said Tuesday that Rusty Smith will backup Ryan Fitzpatrick Sunday when Tennessee visits Oakland, and that signing John Skelton Monday provided extra insurance for the rest of the season.

Fitzpatrick is scheduled to make his fourth start as a Titan and second in a row in place of Jake Locker, who is scheduled to have foot surgery on a Lisfranc injury in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said Rusty Smith will remain the backup QB behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, and newly signed John Skelton can learn the system in case Tennessee suffers additional injuries at the position.

Munchak said it’s likely that the Titans (4-6) will only dress two quarterbacks against the Raiders (4-6) and the rest of the season unless Fitzpatrick or Smith enters the game with some type of injury that could worsen during the course of the game. Going ahead and signing Skelton, Munchak said, allows the fourth-year pro to become more familiar with Tennessee’s offensive system.

“We thought we had a need just because of the way quarterbacks get hurt like ours have,” Munchak said. “We needed to have another quarterback here. We felt if something happened to Fitz, we had Rusty — which we’re fine with. But, we didn’t have anyone else into our system. We didn’t want to have to panic if something did happen Sunday that we have to find another quarterback that could come in on Monday and learn our system in case he has to play the following Sunday because Rusty got hurt.”

The Titans didn’t make a move last week because of the short span between games against Jacksonville on Nov. 10 and Indianapolis on Nov. 14.

Skelton previously worked out for the Titans this season and was signed Monday. He’s appeared in 20 games with 17 starts in the past three seasons with Arizona and spent a brief period of time with San Francisco this year. He said is goal is to “learn as much as I can” of the offense quickly.

“Every team in the NFL is a little different,” Skelton said. “You kind of take little subtleties that you know and kind of work with those and go forward, but right now, it’s just learn as much as I can and see where it goes from there.”

Munchak said Skelton is “suited well for what we’re going to do, what we like to do on offense” and the Titans are comfortable with Smith, who is in his fourth season with Tennessee.

“Rusty’s going to be our second quarterback. If something happens to Fitz, Rusty would go in and play,” Munchak said. “Rusty’s been in our system a while. He’s very comfortable with what we’re doing, we’re very comfortable with him, so he’d be the guy second — it’s not going to affect his situation. This allows us to have someone else here learning the offense in case we have another injury.”

With that plan in place if needed, the Titans are still exploring options for an emergency QB if Fitzpatrick and Smith suffered injuries in the same game. The role is normally reserved for Damian Williams, but the receiver and return specialist is recovering from a hip injury. Munchak said if such an instance had happened against the Colts, the Titans would have had running back Shonn Greene be the emergency QB from the “wildcat” formation.

“Anything’s possible that we’d have to worry about the third guy, but at least we have one on the team now that can be ready the following Sunday if need be,” Munchak said.

The Titans had an opening on their 53-man roster after placing Tommie Campbell on season-ending injured reserve with a shoulder injury that Munchak said will require surgery.

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