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NFL Upholds 1-Game Suspension of Titans Safety Michael Griffin

Posted Nov 26, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans safety Michael Griffin lost his appeal of a one-game suspension Tuesday, the NFL announced, so Tennessee must work on winning without the two-time Pro Bowler for a second time this season.

Griffin will miss Sunday’s game at Indianapolis without pay because of what the NFL said was “a repeat violation of NFL safety rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players” after a hit Sunday on Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera.

Titans safety Michael Griffin will miss Sunday's game against the Colts after a receiving a suspension for a hit against Raiders tight end Michael Rivera.

A first-round pick of the Titans in 2007, Griffin didn’t miss a game until Nov. 3 when Tennessee visited St. Louis and he was still recovering from a quadriceps injury he suffered Oct. 20. Griffin was fined earlier this season for a hit that occurred on Jets receiver Stephen Hill after Alterraun Verner intercepted a pass.

Griffin appealed the ruling Tuesday, but it was upheld, which Titans coach Mike Munchak told “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith on the weekly Titans Tonight radio show was surprising to the team.

“I’m not sure what we can or can’t say about all those things, but this is tough,” Munchak said. “I know the players are still learning how to best, especially at his position, I think safeties, DBs are the ones that are always on the line for questionable hits or having a couple of those throughout the course of a couple of years. I think Mike, especially, I think there’s a lot of factors. We felt like he’d be able to play this Sunday, and they decided against it.

Munchak said he thought Griffin implemented several aspects within compliance of rules that have been designed to encourage player safety.

“We thought, again, he did a lot of the things they’re asking him to do. I think he’s playing differently,” Munchak said. “I think he did adjust his height, his target, all those things he’s asked to do, we thought he did on that play. That’s why we felt confident that once they saw it in slow motion and took a good look at it, they’d realize there was no intent there by any means to hit him. He was pulling off rather than going forward. He was doing all the things you’re asking him to do.”

Griffin and several teammates prayed for Rivera while he was being treated on the field, told Oakland’s training staff that he didn’t intend to hurt Rivera, apologized multiple times for the fact that Rivera didn’t finish the game and expressed gratitude for the fact that Rivera appears to be OK.

The Titans are one of six AFC teams with a 5-6 record and currently hold the tiebreaker edge for the final Wild Card spot in the playoffs.

Munchak said veteran George Wilson is “probably your first option” in replacing Griffin, but said doing that with Wilson, who has often covered tight ends as a third safety on the field with Griffin and Bernard Pollard, may limit the Titans’ defensive packages. Munchak said the Titans could call on a combination of Wilson, nickel back Coty Sensabaugh and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to fill the void. Alterraun Verner took snaps at free safety during the offseason program but has started every game at corner this season.

NEW RETURNER: The Titans signed eight-year pro Leon Washington on Tuesday and waived C/G Kevin Matthews and WR/KR Devon Wylie. Washington has significant experience returning kicks and punts and is a two-time Pro Bowler, including last season as a member of the Seahawks. He began this season with New England and was recently released.

“We knew he was someone we wanted to bring in,” Munchak told Keith. “He’s had a great career doing exactly what we need in the return game. Good kid, he can do some other things also, probably, on the offensive side of the ball so we wanted to bring him in, see how he was physically, make sure he was OK. He had a good workout, good physical, everything was great, so we thought he’d be a great addition to us and help us win this Sunday. If you can add a veteran like him at this time of the year, we’re real fortunate to be able to do that.”

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