Tennessee Titans  

 

Titans WR Washington still limping, leaving status for opener in doubt

  • By Associated Press
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nate Washington will miss some time with a strained right hamstring. How much and whether that includes the regular-season opener for the Tennessee Titans' top wide receiver remains to be seen because Titans coach Jeff Fisher isn't saying.

Titans' top 5 fantasy players
1. Chris Johnson (right)
2. LenDale White
3. Nate Washington
4. Justin Gage
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Sleeper: Washington

Fisher hasn't shared specific details on any injuries and won't until the first injury report is required with the start of the regular season. He said Tuesday that all the exams have been done, and Washington's injury isn't serious.

"We'll be day to day, week to week here," Fisher said. "He's a quick healer, and we'll get aggressive with his treatment."

Asked if Washington will miss the Titans' season opener Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Fisher would only rule the wide receiver out for Saturday night's preseason game against the Cleveland Browns.

Washington was Tennessee's top free-agent signee this offseason with a six-year, $27 million deal -- $9 million of it guaranteed. He spent the offseason working to learn Tennessee's offense and routes, which are very different from what he did in Pittsburgh, where receivers run their routes, then run around until quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can find them.

Fisher said Washington is very familiar with the Titans' offense now.

"Knowing what to do and how to do it will not be an issue for him when he returns," Fisher said. "His focus and our focus should be on just getting him back on the field."

Washington wouldn't share any timetable for his return, referring those questions to Fisher. Washington said he plans to follow their schedule and aggressively work on his treatment. He said he is a quick healer and will be back quicker than the Titans expect.

Washington watched practice wearing sunglasses and walking with a noticeable limp. He said he felt something as he pulled up Monday at the end of a long pass route in an individual drill and hopes he avoided serious injury by immediately stopping.

"It happened when I was starting to shut it down," Washington said. "I've never felt anything like that before, so it was all new to me. I immediately dropped because I knew it didn't feel right and didn't want to put any extra pressure on it. Hopefully, I did a good job of handling it the way I did."

Washington was undrafted coming out of Tiffin in 2005 and worked his way up to being the Steelers' No. 3 receiver. He is coming off his best season, with 40 catches for 631 yards and three touchdowns, and he had a long reception of 65 yards against the New York Giants last October. He has 104 catches for 1,705 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career.

The Titans signed the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Washington hoping his speed would give them the deep threat they haven't had since the franchise left Houston in 1997. He is expected to help an offense that averaged a mere 176.2 passing yards per game in 2008 -- 27th in the NFL.

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In the meantime, the Titans will lean on Justin Gage, the top returning receiver from 2008, and rookie Kenny Britt, the team's No. 1 draft pick. Gage made a nice touchdown catch on a pass from Kerry Collins during a drill Tuesday, and Britt pulled in one himself after a quick bobble.

"It's about the young guys getting a chance to learn the system and going in and filling where Nate left off," Gage said. "That's the way the season goes. You've got to step up, and I think our young guys can do that."

The opener at Pittsburgh is a game that Washington had circled, eager for the chance to play against his old teammates. He said he'd be very disappointed if he can't play in that game.

"I'm not worried about that right now," Washington said. "I'm just worried about rehabbing and getting back for whenever I'm scheduled to get back."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.

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