Chris Sanders has always been the type to give back.
And in this season of Thanksgiving, on Wednesday the Tennessee Titans gave Sanders one of the best gifts he could have received – his old job back.
The Titans, with two receivers on the shelf, re-signed the veteran wideout for prorated minimum over the remainder of the season after releasing him in a salary cap move last March. Tennessee lost Kevin Dyson for 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury, and rookie Darrell Hill will likely miss another week or two with a high ankle sprain.
Sanders signed with the Cleveland Browns in the off-season, but had been out of the league after being let go in training camp.
“When you’re in it, you’ve got to enjoy it,” Sanders said. “That’s what I’ve learned being out the last couple of months. I just really enjoy playing the game. You won’t see Chris Sanders complaining anymore.”
Sanders, who lives in the Nashville area year-round, said it was a dream come true to return to the Titans franchise, where he played his first seven NFL seasons.
“Nashville is my home, no matter where I play football,” Sanders said. “But to get the chance to come back and play here, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than with the Tennessee Titans.”
Sanders said he will have to bone up on the playbook a bit, but can contribute as soon as needed.
“I’ve been training. I’m in good shape. I could play right now, if need be,” Sanders said. “Of course, track shape is not the same as football shape, but I could play this Sunday.”
Sanders was happy with his homecoming on Wednesday as well, as he remains close friends with both Dyson and Derrick Mason.
“Those guys, D-Mase and Dyse, we talk all the time,” Sanders said. “They come over to my house. So this is like a family reunion.”
Mason welcomed him back as a teammate and a friend, and a veteran presence to help him complement the Titans’ young receivers who will likely log the bulk of the playing time in Dyson’s absence.
“It’s good to have a familiar face back out there, knowing that we’ve lost Dyse, hopefully not for the rest of the year, but just a couple of games. It’s good to have another veteran guy,” said Mason, who first got an inkling that Sanders could return a couple of days ago.
“He mentioned it to me a couple of days ago, and said it might happen, but you never know,” Mason said. “He just kept his faith, and knew God had a plan for him. I guess God’s plan was to bring him back here.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher hinted that Sanders would likely be deactivated this week against the New York Giants, but said that the veteran provides a good insurance policy for a receiving corps that had grown thin with injuries.
“I don’t want to get in a situation where if we lose one – we’re fine with four – but if we lose one and we’re down to three, we needed somebody to step up and be able to play,” Fisher said. “We looked long and hard and Chris’ name kept coming back and kept coming back. He’s in shape and he’s here, and he’s familiar with the system.”
Now that Sanders is here, one of his first objectives will be to get his old No. 81 jersey back. He wore 18 in practice Wednesday, and 81 now belongs to rookie Jake Schifino, who is on injured reserve.
“I’ve got to get 81 back,” Sanders smiled. “I feel like a rookie again. This is the number  I wore my first year.”
To make room for Sanders on the 53-man roster, the Titans placed rookie cornerback Mike Echols on injured reserve.
Titans quarterback Steve McNair did not practice Wednesday because of a rib strain, and Fisher said he would revisit the quarterback’s status to see if he would be able to play practice today.
“Steve didn’t practice today. I’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Fisher said. “The thing that’s holding him back is his ribs. He can’t torque and turn.”
Linebacker Randall Godfrey made it through a full practice Wednesday and his likelihood of returning Sunday appears better than it has in several weeks.
“Randall took every rep in practice and did well and that was very encouraging to see,” Fisher said.
The Titans held Jevon Kearse out of practice again Wednesday, although Fisher said he did extensive rehab work inside the facility.
Eddie speaks out
Running back responded Wednesday to criticism surrounding his fourth-quarter benching and Baltimore and critics of his play.
“It’s totally irrelevant. I guess they’ve got to point the finger at somebody, and unfortunately, it’s at me,” said George, who had 61 yards on 16 rushes before being take out in favor of Robert Holcombe near the end of the game.
George disputed that he is wearing down, saying that he is “still in my prime,” and said it was only becoming an issue because the Titans lost again to Baltimore.
“I don’t think any of this would be an issue if we had won the game. I think what has to happen is that you guys have to decide if you’re against me or for me. That’s what it really boils down to,” George said. “Every time we lose, it just seems like I’m the one that is really being pointed at – what’s wrong with me, what’s wrong with my health.
“I have never missed a game in my NFL career. I’m durable. Yes, I have some mishaps in the past. I’ve had some drops in some games. Last year wasn’t a great year because of my toe injury, yet I’m still here.”
I’ll have to get back in the playbook.
The adrenaline was really flowing while I was watching the Baltimore game last Sunday.
I’ll hold the coach’s playbook if that’s what they want me to do.