After suffering a dislocated shoulder in the season opener in Jacksonville, Chris Hope is ready to return to the lineup this week for the Tennessee Titans.
And just in time to celebrate his 31st birthday, which came Thursday.
“I'm anxious. I'm real excited,” Hope said. “I'm not used to being injured, but every year I've learned something different. You have to learn how to play with injuries. I go out, I'm prepared, I'm training. Everything feels good.”
Hope sat out the past two games in favor of Jordan Babineaux, as he rebuilt the strength in the shoulder enough to allow him to play again. He said he is grateful that the Titans had solid depth behind him in Babineaux and veteran Anthony Smith.
“It takes a lot of pressure off. We've been blessed, myself and Griff (Michael Griffin), for the past five years, not to miss too many plays,” Hope said. “Not to say that the guys that were here before weren't capable of playing at a high level, but we definitely have two in Anthony Smith and Jordan Babineaux that come in and play with a lot of confidence.”
Coach Mike Munchak said he believes Hope will be ready to go provided he is not too sore on Friday from Thursday's practice.
“I'm sure Chris' confidence level is good. I think he was able to do everything. Now, it's just a matter of seeing how he feels tomorrow after doing everything,” Munchak said.
Hope said that luxury allowed him not to have to play with an injury that might become chronic and last throughout the season, something he is thankful for.
“It was mostly just not having something that continues the entire year. I appreciate the coaches for giving me the opportunity to rest, and the training staff. They did a great job of taking care of me,” Hope said.
The only other player on the Titans injury report is linebacker Gerald McRath, who missed a second straight game with a knee injury suffered in Sunday's victory over Denver.
McRath has not practiced all week, but is improving, according to Coach Mike Munchak.
“If he heals as quickly as he did from Monday to Tuesday till today, then maybe, but we'll just have to wait and see,” Munchak said.