Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has been diagnosed with cancer and will begin chemotherapy treatments immediately.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher made the announcement on Wednesday just after he had told his team at the conclusion of practice and held a group prayer, led by linebacker David Thornton, in the middle of the team's practice bubble. Fisher declined to reveal what type of cancer his offensive coordinator is suffering from.
“Coach Heimerdinger is not here at practice today. Mike is very sick. Mike is going to be potentially as early as today undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment and I don't know whether Mike will be back tomorrow or whether he will be back Friday or Saturday or whether he'll be back to participate and coach in this game,” Fisher said. “I want y'all to pray for Mike, as we've been doing all morning, as the team has.
"We are going to continue with the game plan. I'll make sure this game will get called, and the offense will be prepared. I just want y'all and everybody out there to keep Mike and his family in your prayers. He's been sick, he's been very sick for three weeks and we just got the diagnosis this morning.”
According to quarterback Kerry Collins, Heimerdinger was in and out of offensive meetings Wednesday morning. He was not on the field for practice, however.
"He's was kind of in and out of meetings this morning. But we're behind him and we support him and we'll do whatever we can do to help out," Collins said. "Really, it puts it all into perspective. There's been a lot of questions going on here the last couple of days. It really just kind of puts everything back into perspective.
"All our thoughts and prayers are with him. I know one thing about Dinger. The guy's a fighter. He's stubborn, he's tough and I know he's gonna give everything he has to this fight. He's gonna get through it and be fine. He's gonna be all right."
The news hit hard inside the Titans locker room as players were forced to take on this sobering news, just days after the Vince Young melodrama unfolded.
"It's a hard pill to swallow. I feel like everybody has somebody or knows somebody that's been affected by cancer. This is tough when it hits this close to home," receiver Justin Gage said.
Added receiver Randy Moss, "That's sad, man. We said a prayer for him. I'm not really good at saying and talking about things like that. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Hopefully, his chemo and everything goes well and we'll see him back as soon as he's ready."
With Heimerdinger out, the Titans will turn to a committee of the offensive staff to call the game Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Offensive line coach Mike Munchak and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains will handle the game plan with some input from Fisher.
“Munch is gonna do the run game. Dowell and the rest of the guys are gonna handle the passing game,” Fisher said.
Fisher added that Loggains, who had been quality control coach until the start of training camp, will likely handle the play calls on Sunday.
Collins, who is sidelined with a calf injury, can help as a de facto assistant coach on the sideline as well.
"I definitely think I can contribute that way. I think I can contribute by being almost like coach, to watch things, see what they're doing and using my experience to help Dowell and the other coaches," Collins said.