Coach gives most Titans extra days off during bye week
By TERESA M. WALKER
Oct. 23, 2017
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey has rewarded his Titans for two straight wins by giving them an entire week off for their bye.
Well, most of the players. The coach has made it mandatory for any injured Titan to stick around the facilities and continue treatment and rehabilitation.
And there are a handful of Titans needing to rest and recover.
At the top of the list is two-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker. He was carted to the locker room during overtime after injuring his right ankle following a 16-yard catch in a 12-9 overtime victory over Cleveland. Walker leads the Titans with 32 catches this season, and his 324 yards receiving rank second.
Mularkey said Monday that exams showed Walker more of a bone bruise than a sprained ankle. Whether or not Walker is available Nov. 5 when the Titans (4-3) host Baltimore (3-4) will depend on how the veteran handles the pain. Walker currently is in a walking boot.
"It's a painful injury," Mularkey said. "Any type of bone bruise, whatever it is, is very painful."
Left guard Quinton Spain also is dealing with turf toe, and running back DeMarco Murray has a bruised shoulder. But Mularkey, sounding congested and saying he didn't feel well, said the bye should allow all the Titans who've been limited by hamstring injuries to fully heal.
That list is led by rookie Corey Davis, the first wide receiver drafted in April and the No. 5 pick overall, who has missed five straight games since aggravating a hamstring Sept. 17 in a 37-16 win at Jacksonville . Starting safety Johnathan Cyprien, who has missed six games, also is expected back.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, who missed a 16-10 loss at Miami on Oct. 8 , has played each of the Titans' last two games. Even with his running limited by the Titans, Mariota led the Titans to a 36-22 win over Indianapolis on Oct. 16 and followed that with a 12-9 overtime win in Cleveland six days later.
"It's an opportunity to relax and reflect on everything that's happened in the first seven weeks, and get ready to go for the long haul," Mariota said after the game.
Getting Davis back could be the boost the Titans' passing offense needs. Tennessee currently ranks 26th averaging 201.9 yards per game without Davis who was instantly installed as the No. 1 receiver. Davis has seven catches for 73 yards at a 10.4-yard average in very limited playing time.
"We should be better if we can get him back," Mularkey said.
Coaches are spending most of the week breaking down every play and player to crank up an offense that hasn't scored a touchdown in the first quarter since the first drive of the season. Kicker Ryan Succop scored every point against Cleveland, the first to do that in an overtime win since Denver kicker Jason Elam's three field goals beat Kansas City 9-6 on Sept. 17, 2006.
Not that Mularkey and the Titans are nitpicking a victory.
"We wanted to come here and get a W," wide receiver Rishard Matthews said. "It doesn't matter how we got it. We get to go into the bye week with a W ... We'll come back and build off of this momentum."
The Titans find themselves tied atop the AFC South with Jacksonville holding a tiebreaker over the Jaguars with nine games remaining after the bye.
"I've never said it's a bad win in my life," Mularkey said.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL.
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker