It looks as though the Tennessee Titans could be without linebacker Colin McCarthy on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers because of a sprained right ankle.
McCarthy had an MRI on his ankle on Monday, which Titans coach Mike Munchak said showed “Nothing bad.”
That might be the good news for McCarthy, but he still likely won't play when the Titans travel to San Diego.
“He’s still pretty sore. We anticipate that it would be hard for him to play this week,” Munchak said.
The only caveat Munchak added to that is, “we’re going to have to see if he improves at all tomorrow or not.”
A Titans defense minus McCarthy could present a problem, as the middle linebacker emerged as one of the team's biggest playmakers after becoming a starting midway through last season. It continued in preseason with three interceptions, as he was voted one of the team's captains for the season.
“I think we missed him a lot on Sunday. I think people underestimate how much we missed him on Sunday. When he went out of the game early, or got the ankle early and tried to play with it, tried to come back and couldn’t,” Munchak said. “I mean, he’s your leader. We voted him a team captain for a reason. He stepped up in preseason, he was a guy that was making a lot of plays, as you saw out here at practice. All of a sudden, a guy like that gets pulled from the lineup, you’ve got to move on, and that’s not why we didn’t win the football game, but that definitely affected your team when you lose a guy like that. It’s like losing a quarterback. I mean, he’s a top guy.”
Without McCarthy, the top option might be to shift weakside linebacker Will Witherspoon into the middle and keep him in in nickel situations. Witherspoon played in the nickel package Sunday after McCarthy exited.
That would open a spot for either rookie Zach Brown or backup Zac Diles to grab playing time in the base package.
Linebacker Akeem Ayers says the Titans can overcome the loss of McCarthy.
“I don't want to say it won't hurt us much, because he's a starter for a reason, and he's our mike backer for a reason, because he's the best person for the job. But at the same time, we've got guys that can step up. We'll get a good week in with Will Witherspoon in as the mike linebacker,” Ayers said. “He made the right calls. This is a team game, and it takes all 11 people fitting in their gaps and doing the right things. We should be good. We've got a good game plan in.”