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Titans DT Haynesworth, DE Vanden Bosch set to return vs. Ravens

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The odds of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco being sacked on Saturday have suddenly increased.

Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and end Kyle Vanden Bosch took part in their first full practice in weeks Wednesday, and they couldn't be more eager to chase the rookie quarterback in the Titans' AFC divisional playoff game against Baltimore.

"I've been in hibernation for a month," said Haynesworth, who had two photos of growling bears taped to his locker by his teammates. "The grizzly's hungry, and he's ready to eat."

Vanden Bosch said he felt great in his first full practice since having minor groin surgery on Dec. 16.

"It's not a game-time decision. It's just get geared up because I'm going," Vanden Bosch said.

Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch make up the right half of the Titans defensive line, with Haynesworth leading the team with a career-high 8.5 sacks and Vanden Bosch their nonstop pass rusher with 35.5 sacks in four seasons with the Titans.

Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said both were determined to be as close to 100 percent healthy as possible for this playoff game.

"And when Albert is healthy and getting the push and Kyle is bringing on the corner, the pocket collapses very quickly," Fisher said.

Vanden Bosch first injured his groin early in the Titans' 13-10 win in Baltimore on Oct. 5, an injury that lingered for weeks and kept him out three games. He thought he was back only to hurt something close to that spot on Dec. 7, and surgery was needed for the repair.

Haynesworth also got banged up and was off the field for chunks of that game in Baltimore, leaving the Titans scrambling so much they had to push end Dave Ball over to tackle to help cover their absence.

As a result, the Titans did not sack Flacco once -- one of only two games this season that they did not sack a quarterback. The only other quarterback to escape their clutches in a game was MVP Peyton Manning, and they sacked him once in his lone series against them in their regular-season finale.

Flacco complimented his young offensive line for protecting him so well.

"Believe me, I have all the trust in the world in the guys up front, our running backs and our receivers, that they're going to prepare during the week, and they're going to go out there and fight," Flacco said. "That's why we have the confidence that we have."

Flacco nevertheless will be a big target for the Titans, especially Haynesworth, who will be a free agent if the Titans can't sign him to a new contract in the coming weeks.

"We've got to get after him," Haynesworth said. "We've got to hit him as many times as we possibly can. We've got to make him uncomfortable. We've got to make him realize he ain't welcome in our stadium and just knock him down as many times as we can."

Vanden Bosch said Flacco is dangerous with his strong arm when on the run.

"Try to get him off the spot, try to get pressure in his face," Vanden Bosch said.

The Titans found they have quality depth when Vanden Bosch needed surgery and missed the final three games and Haynesworth sprained his left knee a week later at the end of a 14-13 loss in Houston. Rookie Jason Jones came up with 3.5 sacks, and the Titans sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times on Dec. 21 without their two starters.

Linebacker Keith Bulluck believes the return of Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch for this rematch is perfect timing considering the physical presence, emotion, leadership and playmaking ability they bring.

"We just know we have two of our heavy hitters in the game, and we're going to get after it even more. It's great for us. Not too good for them, though," Bulluck said of the Ravens.

Tennessee ranked fifth in the NFL with 44 sacks, but 39.5 of those came from the defensive line -- best in the league.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the Titans' defensive line may be the team's strength.

"We'll have our hands full," he said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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