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Commentary by Joe Biddle: Titans must avoid injuries

The Titans preseason will mercifully come to an end tonight on the frozen tundra in Minneapolis.

Wait. The Vikings are still playing in the Metrodome in artificial grass that stays green all year. My bad.

The Vikings are 0-3 in preseason outings, fresh off a 34-14 drubbing courtesy of the 49ers.

The big question leading into the Titans final dress rehearsal would normally be whether the Titans could continue the momentum gained by their only preseason victory at the expense of the 0-3 Falcons.

But since NFL teams treat the fourth preseason game as an uncle who drinks too much and visits all too often, we won’t know one way or the other.

What’s the goal for every player and team in the final preseason game? Don’t get hurt.

At Titans Coach Mike Munchak’s Monday presser, he had not decided how much time the Titans starters will see.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer has seen it work both ways over his long career as a player, assistant coach and now head coach.

“I’ve been a part of (approaching it) both ways. When I played, you played in the fourth game. The fourth game then was what the third game is these days,’’ Munchak said.

“When I was coaching the offensive line, I think we did it both ways. We started off where (starters) didn’t play much at all, then we kind of went through a span where we played a lot and went into the halftime. I think that so many teams are concerned for injuries these days. … I think it makes coaches more cautious because they don’t want to be the guy that had someone playing and got questioned about why a guy is playing in a preseason game.’’

Munchak and his staff have some difficult decisions to make before cutting down to the required 53-man roster. How many running backs do they keep? Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene are givens, but has Jackie Battle shown enough to keep three?

The most difficult decisions will come at the wide receiver position. Do they keep five or six? Has Michael Preston done enough to crack that list? What happens with Marc Mariani,, who has proven to be a viable punt/kick returner and also a reliable wide receiver?

They will keep receivers Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, rookie Justin Hunter and choose between Damian Williams, Kevin Walter, Mariani and Preston. Tough calls there, even though Walter, an 11-year veteranfree agent, hasn’t played due to injury.

Do they keep three quarterbacks? If one has to go, it’s Rusty Smith. He has shown enough in his four years to get picked up by another team. The Titans need to do him a favor and let him test the market.

They have three centers that have shown they can play here. They will probably keep Rob Turner and rookie Brian Schwenke there and let Fernando Velasquez back up at both center and guard.

The battle between Alterraun Verner and Tommie Campbell continues at a corner spot. Coty Sensabaugh is also deep in the conversation to make the final roster.

It’s a distasteful part of Munchak’s job. He’s dealing with people’s personal and professional lives. And he must this is the team he wants going forward.

Former Coach Jeff Fisher got some unsolicited advice from his then-teenage daughter one year.

She advised him to keep all the cute players.

Whatever works.

Sport Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee and a 2013 inductee to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He can be reached at


Posted on: 8/28/2013


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