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NFL Approves Titans-O’Donnell Deal

December 18, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Veteran quarterback Neil O’Donnell rejoined the Tennessee Titans on Thursday after the NFL approved a deal that the team squeezed under the salary cap.

O’Donnell was expected to be at practice Thursday afternoon.

Getting O’Donnell back became a necessity after Billy Volek suffered a lacerated spleen in the Titans’ 28-26 victory over Buffalo on Sunday. Rookie Jason Gesser has been the only healthy quarterback, with Steve McNair nursing a cracked bone spur in his left ankle.

The Titans had been working since Tuesday to reach a deal that would make O’Donnell happy and keep the team under the salary cap.

O’Donnell spent four years in Tennessee and started six games, going 5-1 over two seasons in 1999 and 2000. But his biggest contribution to the team may have been last December.

McNair started, but didn’t practice for five straight weeks after a combination of injuries. The Titans won all five games and O’Donnell received a game ball during that stretch for helping prepare the offensive unit in McNair’s absence.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher’s call to O’Donnell earlier this week was the first talk between the two since the quarterback was cut unexpectedly before the season began. Fisher said O’Donnell seemed interested in rejoining the team. He previously had expressed bitterness after the roster move.

``There was no way there could not have been bitterness in that situation,″ Fisher said. ``He got blind-sided and didn’t see it coming; that’s a tough thing to deal with especially when you have been in the league this long.″

O’Donnell also played for Cincinnati, the New York Jets and Pittsburgh, where he led the Steelers to four playoff appearances and a Super Bowl.

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