The Titans head into today’s huge matchup against the Redskins with a few injury issues to deal with. Logan Ryan’s season ending injury suffered in New York is the biggest one. Tennessee will turn to third year pro LeShaun Sims to take Ryan’s spot among the top three corners, joining Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson. Which of those guys handles slot duties when the Titans are in nickel remains to be seen, but the guess here is that it’s Butler for the most part.
The other trouble spot is at outside linebacker, where Brian Orakpo will miss a second straight game and rookie Sharif Finch will be out as well. The Titans will likely start Harold Landry and Derrick Morgan with Kamalei Correa as the first OLB off the bench. I would expect that we will also see more of Rashaan Evans as a situational pass rusher as well. It’s a role that he excelled in at Alabama and he’s shown some flashes in limited reps there during his rookie season.
Tajae Sharpe is listed as questionable at receiver with an ankle injury that has seemingly lingered for him ever since the Cowboys game. If he can’t go — and maybe even if he does — expect to see a lot of Taywan Taylor across from Corey Davis with either Cameron Batson or Darius Jennings playing in the slot. We could also see an increased role for Anthony Firkser in the passing game.
The good news in this one is that it appears that Kenny Vaccaro is going to be back in the secondary after leaving with a concussion last week. Vaccaro brings a ton of energy to the defense with his style of play in addition to being an extremely versatile chess piece for Dean Pees to use all over the field. Getting him back to play across from Kevin Byard is huge.
On the opposite sideline, the Titans will faced a banged up Washington offense. Their injury woes are well-documented at this point. Alex Smith and Colt McCoy’s injuries forced them to try Mark Sanchez and then Josh Johnson at QB. Johnson will be making just his second NFL start since 2011 today.
The offensive line has been decimated as well. They’re without both starting guards in this game and while they will have starting tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses back, both guys have been dealing with injuries of their own recently.
They also have issues at the skill positions where free agent addition Paul Richardson is on injured reserve and Josh Doctson popped up on the injury report this week with a back injury. He is listed as questionable for today’s game. Tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis have both been ruled out for this game.
The Redskins are pretty healthy — and talented — on defense though. They can be beat on the ground though, ranking 29th in rush defense DVOA, and well... the Titans ground game is on fire right now. This shapes up to look a lot like another defense and Derrick Henry game. The biggest thing is that the Titans don’t overlook Washington with a possible win-and-in matchup with the Colts looming next week.