NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse says he didn't stick around to watch Sunday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts after being a healthy scratch, visiting with family instead.
And if deactivated again?
"It just depends on how I'm feeling," Kearse said Wednesday.
It was an obvious football move for the Titans, who are reeling from a winless start after posting the NFL's best record at 13-3 last season to replace a veteran whose production is down with a youthful player. Coach Jeff Fisher didn't fine Kearse for leaving the stadium and insists the issue is over.
Teammates declined Wednesday to say how they would feel if scratched 90 minutes before kickoff, and several insisted the Titans remain committed and together despite being 0-5.
Whether that solidarity continues depends on how many more losses rack up and how many more lineup changes follow.
Kearse had started 21 games for Tennessee since being signed to a two-year contract in 2008. The 11-year veteran has only one sack, three quarterback pressures and three tackles this season. The Titans started William Hayes, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008, in Kearse's place against the Colts, and the second-year pro has 1.5 sacks, six quarterback pressures and 16 tackles this season.
"He's doing what we drafted him to do," Fisher said of Hayes.
Kearse said he had a feeling that he might not play as of last Thursday, prompting him to arrive at LP Field later than usual but in time for pregame activities. That's when Fisher told Kearse he was being deactivated and that he needed to be more healthy despite not being on the injury report this season.
Kearse listened, didn't say anything and then left to join family and friends.
"Once I got the official word, I jumped back in my Benz and I went home," Kearse said.
Wasn't the veteran interested in setting an example for the 16 first- and second-year players on Tennessee's roster? Providing tips based on his years of experience during the game? Kearse refused to get into that topic.
"What can you do now?" he said. "It's not going to change the record or the season or anything else."
This roster change follows Fisher tweaking his practice schedule last week, a half-hour difference still being used Wednesday. Fisher never has been the kind of coach to rearrange locker rooms or move players around inside trying to spark his team. The coach also isn't worried about any impression left on younger players by Kearse splitting before the game.
Veteran quarterback Kerry Collins said he didn't believe any of his teammates thought anything of Kearse leaving after being scratched.
"That's an issue between Jevon and Jeff," Collins said.
The move didn't result in any immediate results. The Titans didn't sack Peyton Manning even once, and they lost 31-9 to the Colts. Next up is New England (3-2) on Sunday before Tennessee's bye, and another loss would be the longest losing streak to start a season since the then-Houston Oilers opened 0-10 in 1984.
The Titans do seem talked out in a season in which so much was expected. Running back LenDale White, who has just 33 carries for 133 yard and one touchdown, said nobody can point a finger because 100 would point back.
No hissyfits or throwing objects across a room would help either.
"The object you threw across the room is not a touchdown. That's not it," White said. "It's a great emotional way to let your team know you're there and you'll do whatever it takes. At the same time, there's only so much talking you can do."
Notes: DB Vincent Fuller (broken right arm) practiced Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 27, but he was limited with no contact. CB Cortland Finnegan (right hamstring) didn't practice, along with S Michael Griffin (neck), CB Nick Harper (broken right arm), OL Leroy Harris (concussion) and G Jake Scott (illness). TE Craig Stevens (concussion) sat out and will not practice this week, Fisher said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press