Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Monday that All-Pro defensive end Jevon Kearse should be getting near the point of returning to the field after being injured on the second defensive play from scrimmage in the season opener against Philadelphia, but offered no guarantees.
Fisher also appeared cautiously optimistic that starting middle linebacker Randall Godfrey might be able to make it back from a high ankle sprain that has kept him idled for six of Tennessee's nine games this season.
As for Kearse, the Titans were forced to back down his rehab drills when he experienced soreness in his healing left foot late last week. Kearse had procedural x-rays on the foot Monday to ensure that the healing process is continuing on schedule.
"I can't tell you where Jevon is right now. I'm hoping he'll pick up the pace this week," Fisher said. "But again, he'll be very questionable for this game. He's experiencing some pain from last week and the things that he did. We're going to just have to kind of go day-to-day with Jevon."
Kearse was originally diagnosed as missing 6-8 weeks with the injury, but the process has been slower, as the recovery enters its 10th week. The coach said Kearse is in good shape otherwise but might have to tolerate some pain in the foot for the foreseeable future.
"He's in really good shape. He's been doing everything inside, in the pool and the lifting and all those kinds of things," Fisher said. "Then last week, we got him out there and taped him up to do some running. And as soon as we got him to plant and lean on it, it became sore. It was difficult for him. So we backed him back down.
"Now, we're going to pick it back up again this week and see what kind of strides he makes. In all likelihood, it's going to be sore. It's going to be sore throughout the rest of the year. The thing we have to be sure of is that he does not subject himself to reinjuring the foot. That's the reason for the x-ray. This is the start of the 10th week now, so he should be very close to playing, assuming he can deal with the pain and discomfort."
Godfrey's condition, too, has forced the Titans to play a waiting game regarding a return to the lineup. Fisher said the decision on Godfrey will come early this week.
"Randall had an injection last week and had a second opinion early," Fisher said. "He had the injection, and we shut him down, and we need to know by Wednesday if he can go. If he can go by Wednesday and practice through the week, then he'll start at middle linebacker for us. If he cannot put in a day's worth of practice for us on Wednesday, then we'll give him another week's rest."
Rocky Calmus has started the past two games at middle linebacker, but Frank Chamberlin, nursing a broken hand, may be able to start this week, if Godfrey is unable to. Chamberlin will likely be fitted for a cast that will allow him use of his fingers this week.
There were other comings and goings from the trainers' room for the Titans on Monday. Quarterback Steve McNair was back in a walking boot as a result of dealing with turf toe suffered last week in Indianapolis. Fisher again expects McNair to play, though he would like his quarterback to get in a full week of practice this time.
"We're going to treat it very aggressively and hope that it improves," Fisher said. "If we have to use the boot or the shoe that he played the game in, the special shoe, then so be it. Last week we had to let it settle down because of the significant swelling. He does have swelling, but we're optimistic that we'll get the swelling out before Wednesday.
"Steve had some big games with good numbers last year without practicing, but he'll be the first one to tell you that he needs to get out there and practice and get in a flow and get in a rhythm."
Holcombe, obtained last off-season partially for his special teams abilities, has been out since the opener with a hip injury, but should be back on the practice field this week.
Comella practiced last week, but was a Sunday inactive. The fullback should be fine to both practice and play Sunday vs. the Steelers.
Tennessee actually suffered just one injury in Sunday's 17-10 win over Houston, as tight end Frank Wycheck wound up with a concussion as a result of a first-quarter hit by Texans' safety Eric Brown. It could cost the veteran tight end some practice time.
"Frank is a little better [Monday]," Fisher said. "We're still going to have to watch him and keep him out of contact at least Wednesday and possibly Thursday as well."
Ready for Steelers
It might not be a division game anymore, but don't think the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to down isn't a big deal to the Titans.
"We've got a few guys that don't understand the meaning of [Pittsburgh week]," Fisher said, " and we started getting that across this morning." To the veterans, it won't take much to get them ready for the Steelers.
"We'll be up for Pittsburgh," cornerback Samari Rolle added. "Not that we weren't up [for Houston], but Pittsburgh is kind of different."