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Injuries hamper Titans defense

A Tennessee Titans defense that needs time together to jell instead is likely to be missing several pieces for the final two preseason games.

Zach Brown has missed two practices with a foot injury but should play Saturday.

Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua, who underwent surgery on his right hand Monday, will be out this week as he had his arm in a sling while addressing reporters.
When he returns he will try to play with a cast on his hand, though the Titans might not play him again in the preseason.

“I'm not really sure how long I'm going to be casted for. I'll know more tomorrow when I meet with the doctors, and we'll just go from there,” Pitoitua said.
Pitoitua has broken the same hand before, but in a different part.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill, like Pitoitua a free-agent pickup in the off-season, won't be in uniform when the Titans go through their dress rehearsal in the third preseason game Saturday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
Hill strained the elbow ligaments in his left arm in the preseason opener against Washington and then tried to play through the injury last week against Cincinnati.

“It's just something that really needed to be done,” Hill said of getting time off to rest the elbow. “But the bad news is I really want to be out there playing. But it's best to get it over with now and not be out there first game and not having control over when you're hurting. I'm looking forward to just hurrying up and getting well.”

Rookie Levar Edwards and third-year tackle/end Karl Klug could be the starters Saturday in the base defense package.

Linebacker is another area that is thin due to injury, even though Greg Jones returned on Tuesday from his ankle injury and could play against the Falcons.

Still missing are strong side linebacker Akeem Ayers, whom Mike Munchak declared likely out for the rest of the preseason with an ankle injury, Colin McCarthy, who has yet to play a snap in a game, and Zaviar Gooden, who has yet to see game action due to a high ankle sprain.

In addition, starting weak side linebacker Zach Brown missed a second straight day with a sore foot, but should practice Wednesday and play this week. And hybrid defensive end/linebacker Scott Solomon missed another practice with a concussion.

“We should be OK. A lot of young guys are gonna get a chance to play football this weekend. It's the same thing with the defensive linemen,” Munchak said. “Some of the younger guys are gonna get a chance to play a lot this weekend when you thought it might be the fourth game.”

Safety Daimon Stafford was back and practicing on Tuesday, as was center Brian Schwenkie, who should make his preseason debut Saturday.

Also still out are receivers Kendall Wright and Marc Mariani. Mariani, who now looks as if he will miss the remainder of the preseason, which could put his chances of making the roster in peril. Wright has already been declared out until the season opener.

Still deciding

Munchak said the Titans will decide on Wednesday how to divvy up the playing time at center and who will get to work with the starters between Rob Turner, Fernando Velasco and Chris Spencer. Turner and Velasco have each started one preseason game for Tennessee.

At cornerback, Alterraun Verner and Tommie Campbell will each get a quarter with the starters as the Titans try to finalize that spot, though Verner seems to have the edge currently.

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