Darius Reynaud looks to have retained his hold on the Tennessee Titans' return job, barring something unforeseen happening in the final preseason game Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings.
Reynaud, who came to the Titans as a street free agent and impressed last year after Marc Mariani's gruesome leg injury, was re-signed by Tennessee to a one-year deal in the off-season for the chance to compete with Mariani to be the Titans kick and punt returner.
However, that battle has yet to materialize as Mariani is on the shelf now with a shoulder injury sustained in his first preseason game back against the Washington Redskins.
Coach Mike Munchak said Mariani has been meeting with doctors to try and determine just how long he will be out of action, and that the Titans aren't sure yet what they will do with him.
“That's an area we still haven't finalized as to what options we could have there. I feel comfortable that (Reynaud will) do a very good job,” Munchak said. “Marc has been meeting with the doctors this week as far as exactly where he is at and how much time we think it will be until he can practice and play. That's part of the equation, too. We look at a lot of factors, but obviously (Reynaud) is the guy that can help us win football games right now.”
The Titans' options with Mariani are limited and running out. Because he passed his entrance physical with the leg injury, he began practicing and cannot be placed on the physically unable to perform list to start the season, as Tennessee will do with receiver Kevin Walter.
The Titans could use the recall designation from injured reserve for Mariani, but that would require him to miss at least eight weeks, probably not something the club would want to do, given that only one player can carry that designation in a season.
“Either way, if you put him on injured reserve, he's done for the year, if you put him where you can recall him, he still has to be on our 53, and then we can move him,” Munchak said. “So he still has to take up a roster spot, which means someone else would have to be let go. Even though that's a way we could put him on injured reserve and bring him back, he still takes up a roster spot. If not, he's on injured reserve, which means he's out for the year.”
Reynaud, who was out of football in 2011, and has played for the Giants and Vikings in his NFL career, takes nothing for granted, even if he is the leader for the position.
“I feel pretty good where I stand, but every year I go through this, from my rookie year till now, always fighting for a position,” Reynaud said. “But I've just got to maintain and stay healthy and keep doing what I'm doing.”
Running back Shonn Greene and receiver Kenny Britt joined the list of non-practicing Titans on Monday.
Munchak said Britt probably will need a day a week to rest his left knee for the foreseeable future.
Greene might be held out of Thursday night's preseason finale at Minnesota.
Others not practicing have been out awhile. They include Kendall Wright (knee), Markelle Martin (hamstring), Quinn Johnson (hamstring), Zaviar Gooden (ankle), Zach Brown (foot), Akeem Ayers (ankle), Mariani (shoulder) and Sammie Hill (elbow).
Ropati Pitoitua returned to practice with a cast on his broken right hand. He had his thumb and index finger free, but said he could still feel pain, so on Tuesday, he will wear a cast that will have all the fingers inside.
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