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Notebook: Titans will use Discipline in Limiting Plays for Britt

Posted Sep 14, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Munchak said Friday that his staff will not be tempted to over-play Kenny Britt even though Nate Washington missed his third straight day of practice.

Britt is likely to play his first football game Sunday in almost a year after he tore his ACL and MCL in Week 3 of the 2011 season. Britt will be placed on a limited play count, however, similar to a baseball pitch count, and the Titans likely won’t play Britt more than 15 to 25 snaps.

Washington, who suffered a leg injury in the season-opener, did some running on a side field and threw some passes  to receivers in individual drills, but is likely to be limited if he is able to play at San Diego (3:25 p.m. Sunday).

“It won’t change Kenny (Britt’s snaps),” Munchak said. “We can’t allow something like that to happen. He needs to play what he’s capable of playing, and that’s it. Like I said, we have the tight ends, and we can go other directions if for some reason, we get short, assuming that Nate (Washington) isn’t up. That’s my point, Nate could be up for that reason, where he takes that 20 snaps himself and eases the pain there. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes on Sunday.”

Washington had two catches for 53 yards, including a 29-yard TD catch and run on a pass from Jake Locker in the opener. He was injured early in the fourth quarter on a play that was initially ruled a fumble after a completed pass and later determined an incompletion. Locker suffered a shoulder injury on the same play when he tackled New England’s Patrick Chung after a 49-yard run back that didn’t count.

Locker said earlier in the week that he “definitely” expects to play against the Chargers and make his second career start. Munchak said he was pleased with the way the second-year QB practiced this week.

“He got better every day,” Munchak said. “He won’t even talk about his shoulder. He feels good, and he’s moving forward. I don’t think, in his mind, it will be a factor at all in this game.”

Munchak said Britt has looked good in practice all week, but the Titans must ease him back into the mix. He said the team must keep in mind that it is very early in the season.

“I think if we’re just concerned for his knee, we’d probably think he looks pretty good and could probably go more,” Munchak said. “But you have to worry about other things too — hamstrings, quads. When you’re running like that and haven’t done it under pressure and start getting tackled, that’s something we don’t know yet. When he starts getting tackled and running, and it just all depends how the game is going.”

Britt suffered a hamstring injury the last time the Titans visited the Chargers (Oct. 31, 2010) and missed the next four games (all losses).

MORE LOOKS FOR TIGHT ENDS: As Munchak mentioned, the limitations on Britt and possibly Washington may lead to more pass-catching opportunities for Titans tight ends.

Tennessee opened against New England with all three of its tight ends — Jared Cook, Craig Stevens and rookie Taylor Thompson — on the field. Locker rolled out, but didn’t like what he saw in the coverage and scrambled for two yards on the play. He wound up connecting with Cook four times for 64 yards.

When asked this week if he thought those numbers continued where he finished strong in 2011, Cook said, “No, I need more. I can do better. This offense can do better, and we can have better numbers than that. We can do a lot better.”

Munchak said the tight ends were able to play a 3-4 scheme similar to San Diego’s in the preseason against Arizona, and against part of New England’s system. The Chargers, however, may choose to blitz Locker more than the Patriots did.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Cook said. “They’ve got a big front seven, and their front seven can run a little bit and bang a little bit, so we’ve got to make sure we get on the second level because they’ve shown a lot of different blitzes on the field and things we have to get picked up. They’re a good, solid front.

“Instead of having four down (linemen), you’ve got three down now and you’ve got two guys that can run a little bit better at linebacker,” Cook added, “so it changes the way you want to block things and the way you want to run your offense just a little bit, so you’ve just got to know how to key guys well and know the numbers.”

Stevens, who never shies from physical play, anticipates a high degree of physicality in the game, even by NFL standards.

“Every time we’ve played them since I’ve been here, it’s always been a battle,” Stevens said. “They’re just a good opponent, and it’s going to be really tough.”

MCCARTHY OUT: The Titans also must overcome an injury on defense as middle linebacker Colin McCarthy will not play Sunday. McCarthy suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter against the Patriots and missed practice this week.

Tennessee defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, who missed the opener, fully participated Friday and will be listed as questionable for Sunday.

HOMECOMING OF SORTS: The Titans have seven California natives on their active roster. San Diego is the closest NFL franchise to the hometowns of six Titans from the Los Angeles area (Stevens, Alterraun Verner, Robert Johnson, DaJohn Harris, Jurrell Casey and Akeem Ayers). Lavelle Hawkins is also from California, but his hometown is closer to Oakland.

Stevens recorded his first career touchdown the last time the Titans visited the Chargers.

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