If Lance Schulters is unable to play Sunday against the Houston Texans because of his dislocated shoulder, relative newcomer Rich Coady will get the start for the Tennessee Titans.
But if his number is called on Sunday, don’t expect Coady to make a big deal of it. The backup free safety says he is ready to go and is staying pretty low key about the whole situation.
After all, Coady, claimed off waivers from the St Rams on Aug. 29, has already been logging considerable time at the free safety position.
In the Titans’ dime package, which they have had to employ considerably this season, Coady plays at the free safety spot while Schulters shifts to the dime cornerback role. Coady even started the past two games vs. Cincinnati and Indianapolis when the Titans opened the game in sub-packages, so taking the role full-time this week won’t be asking much more.
Last week, with Schulters out in the fourth quarter, Coady logged extra time on the field and finished the game with six tackles.
“There won’t be a whole lot of difference,” Coady said. “When I come in in the dime, I play safety. Lance moves to the dime. It’s not a big thing for me, because it’s something I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. So it’s not a big deal.”
Coady impressed the coaches with his ability to pick up the defense quickly, so much so that he edged ahead of Aric Morris in the dime package by his third game as a Titan after some quick studying and some time to allow an ankle injury to heal.
“He’s a sharp guy and a good football player, and he studies the game,” Titans defensive backs coach Everett Withers said. “He really took it upon himself to study it and learn it, so he’s doing a good job.
“There is a chance he could be starting this week at free safety. We’re not stressed about him being in there at safety.”
Coady gave credit to the coaching staff with helping him get up to speed quickly in the Titans’ scheme.
“I think the coaches did a good job when I first got here,” Coady said. “I spend some extra time with them trying to understand the whole defense and the adjustments and stuff. I feel pretty comfortable with it.”
Coady hopes not to be the weak link if Schulters is a no-go on Sunday.
“I hope they don’t shorten the game plan because of me,” he said. “I feel comfortable enough as far as the checks and adjustments that I don’t think they’ll shrink the game plan just for me.”
On the contrary, Titans coach Jeff Fisher, too, has been impressed with what Coady has been
He understands what we’re doing. He’s challenged in the plus territory, but that challenges everybody. But he has a feel for that and gives us a number of options because he could be put in a number of positions in the defense right now.
In addition to Schulters, who sat out Wednesday, other Titans on the shelf for the practice included quarterback Steve McNair (turf toe) and linebacker Randall Godfrey (ankle). Both were wearing protective boots Wednesday. Titans coach Jeff Fisher was hopeful McNair could be back perhaps by today.
“He’s still in a boot. He’s still got some swelling,” Fisher said of McNair. “We’re hopeful they can get him in a shoe and that maybe by [today] he could practice.”
Godfrey got an injection in his ankle to help the lingering sprain that has cost him five games already.
“He’s had an injection and been placed in a boot,” Fisher said. “We’re just going to let him settle down for a couple of days and then take it from there. He’s not been ruled out for the game.”
Neither has Schulters, whom Fisher said was sore Wednesday, but feeling better.
Defensive end Jevon Kearse and running back Robert Holcombe both did running drills on the side Wednesday, and the Titans hope to pick up their activities as the week progresses to see if either might be a go on Sunday.
Fullback Greg Comella, running back John Simon and safety Tank Williams all practiced Wednesday.
Practice field fracas
Veteran tight end Frank Wycheck and rookie linebacker Rocky Boiman were involved in a practice field scuffle Wednesday as the Titans went through another Wednesday of padded drills.
Wycheck was blocking Boiman when tempers flared and both wound up on the ground with punches being thrown. Boiman’s helmet came off and Wycheck swung at him with that.
Later, in another drill, Boiman picked off a pass intended for Wycheck, then toss the ball at the tight end’s feet.