The Tennessee Titans commenced Wednesday with the business of preparing for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos this Sunday.
In getting ready to face Denver, one of the biggest allies the Titans could have would be controlling the clock, if they can put together some sustained drives to keep Manning and the powerful Denver offense on the sideline.
As the Titans do that, they also have the added issue of having to shuffle things on offense, installing a new/old fullback in Quinn Johnson and adding a new tight end to the mix in Visanthe Shiancoe.
Both players were signed on Tuesday by the Titans to help cover their injuries at those positions. Tennessee lost fullback Collin Mooney to a knee injury in Sunday's loss at Indianapolis, and brought Johnson for a third tour of duty with the club.
Johnson began the year as Tennessee's starting fullback with Mooney on the practice squad, but suffered a leg injury in the season opener and was placed on injured reserve. Once Johnson was healthy, he was given an injury settlement and released by the Titans.
He spent two stints with Tennessee in 2011 when the Titans acquired him from Green Bay and later reacquired him from Denver, and was the Titans’ starting fullback all of last year. For Johnson, it is simply getting back on the bicycle with the Titans’ offense.
"It's not hard to figure out the offense. It's the same thing. It's just back to doing what I was doing before," Johnson said of his latest return to the Titans. "That is my plan to get back in there and do what I've got to do to help the team.. I've just been working out and staying in shape and waiting for my opportunity, and it just happened to be back here."
Johnson became eligible to come back to the Titans after week 10.
Shiancoe joins the Titans after both Craig Stevens and Delanie Walker went down with concussions. Stevens was injured against Oakland two weeks ago and did not play at Indianapolis, while Walker left with a concussion against the Colts. In that game, tackle Mike Otto was forced to play as the second tight end behind Taylor Thompson. Neither Stevens nor Walker practiced on Wednesday.
Shiancoe is well traveled, having spent time with the Giants, Vikings and Patriots, and was in camp with the Ravens. Shiancoe said having been around the NFL, it isn’t hard to pick things up in the Titans’ offense.
“Being on that many teams, you noticed that it’s the same concepts, but it’s different terminologies. So that’s easy to pick up and mix and match. It hasn’t been difficult. I’m picking it up pretty easy,” Shiancoe said. “They’ve been spoon-feeding me ,pretty much. I’m gonna ask for a bigger spoon.”
The Titans are holding out hope that Stevens and/or Walker can both practice and perhaps play this week against the Broncos, but there are no guarantees of that.
"They (Craig Stevens and Delanie Walker) would have to both be doing really well in our mind and not take a chance to lose both of them in the first quarter and be without someone we feel can help us in the passing game," Titans coach Mike Munchak said. "If you see them both suit up, then we feel really confident about both of them, as good as you can. If we’re not, then we would probably put one of them down and keep the other kid up."
Safety Michael Griffin returned to the Titans after serving his one-game suspension for hitting Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera.
Griffin said he used the time off to spend with his family.
"I had Thanksgiving with the family, and put the Christmas tree up," Griffin said.
Griffin said that since he couldn't have any contact with the team and had to make sure that when he reported to work on Monday morning that the suspension had indeed been lifted.
“I didn’t know. I tweeted, can somebody please tell me when I can come back. I thought it might have been after the Monday night game because that concludes week 13 of the season. So I came and asked if it was cool if I worked out or do I have to wait another day,” Griffin said.
Receiver Damian Williams (hip) practiced for the first time since suffering the injury against Jacksonville. If Williams returns, he will not return kicks, as Leon Washington will handle that role.
Receiver Kendall Wright was limited with the ankle injury that he suffered against Oakland.