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Notebook: Titans Expect LBs Zach Brown & Akeem Ayers Back for Opener

Posted Sep 2, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Munchak said Monday that Zach Brown returned to practice and “looked good” and Akeem Ayers “should be practicing by Wednesday.”

The third-year head coach said he anticipates both players will be available Sunday when Tennessee visits Pittsburgh in the season opener for both teams.

That’s great news for Tennessee, which opted to keep six linebackers in reducing the roster from 75 to 53 players on Saturday, and expects to have five LBs available. Rookie Zaviar Gooden (ankle sprain) is likely to be out another week, Munchak said.

Brown suffered a foot injury, and Ayers suffered a sprained ankle during Tennessee’s second preseason game at Cincinnati. Neither player has played since, but the Titans benefitted from the timing of the injuries.

Brown (weakside linebacker) and Ayers (strongside linebacker) opened camp as starters looking to build off production in their respective first and second NFL seasons. The Titans also have Moise Fokou (who is in line to start at middle linebacker) Colin McCarthy (who played last week for the first time since November during Tennessee’s preseason finale at Minnesota), and Patrick Bailey (who has started each of the past two games for Ayers).

“We have six guys that we believe in, but five of them will be active this week because Gooden will be out probably for another week,” Munchak said. “We got guys that are coming back, that will be all back. Zach practiced and looked good. Akeem should be practicing by Wednesday. So, we think all five of those guys will be ready to play and help us win on Sunday.”

TURN THE PAGE: Munchak and players said they were excited to get past the weekend of cuts and advance to the regular season. In addition to making the roster reductions by the league deadline, the Titans also practiced Saturday and had a productive session.

“Saturday’s the hardest because of the transition,” Munchak said. “When you go from 75 guys to 53 in the building, it seems like half your team is missing. That was hard. We came out here Saturday and had a nice workout. I think today you start moving on.

“You know the roster is always going to have some tweaks as we go forward, but for the most part, the guys that are going to help us beat Pittsburgh are in the building,” Munchak continued. “I think they’re excited that they’re on to the next phase. Let the game week begin, and let’s find out what we’re all about, what we have.

Receiver Kenny Britt said the Titans were ready to end the preseason. He said he’s encouraged by the way the team handled the transition.

“It’s been a long road for us, especially in camp, and for myself but we got through it and worked hard and got some things done that we wanted to and didn’t take steps back during OTAs,” Britt said. “I was excited about that, especially (Monday), we came out rolling, even when we had a couple days off and everybody is feeling good.”

WRIGHT ON TRACK: Munchak said Kendall Wright, who suffered a knee injury against the Bengals, is also progressing well and on track to play the Steelers.

“(Kendall) looked good. He was running around before the game in a workout at Minnesota,” Munchak said. “He looked good then and came out here Saturday and you’ve got to stop him from getting (too many) reps (too soon). He really wasn’t sore at all, which is good. He practiced Saturday and practiced (Monday).”

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