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Notebook: As Titans Gear Up for Cold Temps, Ryan Fitzpatrick Plans to Go Gloveless

Posted Dec 6, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans are preparing for one of the coldest games in the history of the franchise when Tennessee visits Denver Sunday.

As of Friday afternoon, the forecasted high temperature is 16 degrees Fahrenheit with a low of minus-1. The game is scheduled for a 3:05 p.m. (CT) start.

Some Titans will have extra layers, some won’t but will quickly find parkas and heated benches when they come off the field.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, however, said he doesn’t plan to wear a glove on his throwing hand, a move that Broncos QB Peyton Manning has made.

Despite a frigid forecast, Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't plan to wear gloves when Tennessee visits Denver.

“I messed around with it a little bit and just didn’t like it. I don’t feel the need for me, but other guys like it,” Fitzpatrick said. “Usually you have the hand warmer (around the waist) with the stuff in there that keeps it warmer or warm enough. Sometimes you end up making the huddle a little extra tighter just so everybody can get that body warmth in there.”

Fitzpatrick said the most adverse weather game he experience while in Buffalo was ironically against Manning’s Colts to end the 2009 regular season. Manning didn’t play much that game in order to rest for the playoffs. Fitzpatrick was 16-of-25 passing for 155 yards with a 41-yard TD and a passer rating of 120.8. He said most of his exposure occurred in practices because of coaching staffs that preferred to practice outdoors, but he said there are some commonalities in cold weather games.

“The hits hurt a little more, your bones creak a little more, but I think as a quarterback, the wind is something that affects you more,” Fitzpatrick said.

Chris Johnson, a Florida native and no fan of cold weather, said the frozen ground can take more of a toll than tacklers.

“I don’t think it’s the hit,” Johnson said. “I think it’s when you hit the ground because the ground is much harder when it’s cold outside.”

Constant rains in Nashville the past two days pushed Thursday and Friday practices indoors for the Titans.

Nate Washington said when he was with the Steelers that players could be fined in-house if they were deemed to be wearing too much in the cold, and Titans coach Mike Munchak remembered something similar from his playing days with the Oilers on late-season trips to Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, but said that has kind of faded. Washington agreed with Fitzpatrick that wind is more of a factor than temperature, but the forecast is that the winds will be about 6 miles per hour.

“That’s everywhere, whether it’s Chicago, Denver or Green Bay, the most important thing is the wind,” Washington said. “That wind kind of takes the ball all over the place, and that cold, with the wind cutting like that can be difficult on your body.”

WILLIAMS MAKING STRIDES: Damian Williams practiced fully for the second straight day. The receiver is recovering from a hip injury he suffered when he was awkwardly tackled during a punt return Nov. 10.

The crowd at LP Field gasped when the injury occurred and was surprised when Williams got up and quickly trotted off the field on his own but with a limp.

“Growing up, I’ve always been one of those people that I don’t like people to see me hurt,” Williams said. “I’ve never liked it when people lay on the ground. I feel like if you can get off the field, get off the field so in my head it was just like, don’t be that guy, get up. It probably wasn’t the best idea, to be honest. I probably should have stayed down.”

Williams said he was able to work on straight-ahead speed first and has been able to add changes of direction to increase movement and work through soreness. He’s also been nose-deep in the playbook because the Titans altered the offense considerable to fit Fitzpatrick’s preferences after Jake Locker suffered a season-ending foot injury in the same game in which Williams was injured.

“We’ve changed a lot of stuff so I’ve had to do a lot more studying this week but Fitz does a good job of simplifying for us,” Williams said.

QUESTIONS AT TIGHT END: An area of the offense that’s not so simple to figure out is at tight end, where Craig Stevens and Delanie Walker are questionable for Sunday’s game because they are recovering from concussions.

Stevens was injured Nov. 24 and Walker suffered his last week at Indianapolis. Stevens was limited in practice Thursday and Friday, and Walker did not participate. Munchak said Walker was still being evaluated under the concussion protocol.

“I’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Walker said. “I mean I can play without practice but it’s always good to be practicing, especially when you’re going against a good team like Denver.”

The Titans played Taylor Thompson and backup tackle Mike Otto in two-tight end sets last week and signed veteran Visanthe Shiancoe this week. If Stevens and Walker are available, the Titans will need to decide whether to have three tight ends active on Sunday or four, which would likely reduce numbers at another position, possibly receiver, Munchak said.

INJURY UPDATES: Munchak said Akeem Ayers (groin), Quinn Johnson (hamstring), Brett Kern (back) and Kendall Wright (ankle) are probable, and David Stewart is questionable for Sunday’s game. Click here for the full injury report.

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