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Titans hopeful Zach Mettenberger will play Sunday

The Tennessee Titans are crossing their fingers that Zach Mettenberger will return to the field as soon as Sunday.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters on Monday that the rookie quarterback's shoulder injury is not believed to be serious, and he might have been correct.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday, per a source who has spoken to Mettenberger, that the quarterback suffered a grade one AC joint sprain in his right (throwing) shoulder.

The team thinks Mettenberger can play Sunday against the New York Giants, Rapoport reported.

The sixth-rounder hurt his right shoulder when Texans behemoth J.J. Watt drove him into the turf in the third quarter of Sunday's 45-21 loss to Houston.

That put on hold Tennessee's plans to use the rest of this season to evaluate what they have in Mettenberger. He's shown flashes of athleticism in each of his five starts, making downfield plays with his strong arm for an 8.3 yards per pass mark. He's also committed his share of rookie mistakes and shown streaks of erratic decision-making.

If Mettenberger can return in time to build off his previous work, he stands a chance to convince Whisenhunt and the Titans' front office that he's starting material beyond this lost season. If he crumbles, though, Tennessee is a rock-solid bet to draft a quarterback near the top of the 2015 NFL Draft.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 13 and debates whether Johnny Manziel deserves the starting job. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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