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Titans rookie DE Morgan sidelined by tight calf at first practice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans drafted defensive end Derrick Morgan with the 16th overall pick, thinking he could help revive their pass rush.

They're still waiting to see just what he can do on the field.

Morgan signed his contract around midnight Saturday and got on the field Sunday for the Titans' second practice of training camp. He didn't last long before being sidelined -- again -- by the same tight left calf that bothered him during the offseason even though the Titans didn't put him through a conditioning test.

Coach Jeff Fisher said the Titans thought about starting Morgan on the physically unable to perform list, which is where Tennessee's 2009 top draft pick, Kenny Britt, found himself once he signed his contract because of a hamstring injury.

"Derrick has had an ongoing calf issue he had it before he left at the end of OTAs," Fisher said of the organized team activities. "We just backed him down. He's not 100 percent. He felt it a little bit, so we just backed him down. He will eventually get back on the field at full speed. When that is, I don't know. We backed him down so that we wouldn't risk further injury."

The Titans have six players on the PUP list right now, including starting defensive tackle Tony Brown.

But Tennessee has yet to see Morgan go through a full practice. First, he strained his hamstring while running sprints in May, then had his left calf tighten up in June. To watch him in action, coaches can check back to what Morgan did at Georgia Tech, where he had 12.5 sacks as a junior and was the Atlantic Coast Conference's Defensive Player of the Year.

"It's really frustrating, because I've never had to deal with injuries my whole career, games or practices or anything," Morgan said. "This is kind of something new I've had to deal with. The biggest thing with me is just trying to stay positive and work hard at getting back and understanding the whole playbook."

The Titans drafted Morgan to boost a defense that ranked 26th in the NFL in sacks per pass play in 2009 with 31 and next to last in passing yards allowed (258.7).

Fisher said it's a difficult process when players -- especially those not under contract -- leave the offseason program and go home.

"It's hard to monitor, and they say different things," Fisher said. "... There is no way you can simulate what we're doing out here. We just backed him (Morgan) down, and now he is in our care, our hands and we'll get him back out there as soon as we can."

At 6-foot-3 and 278 pounds, Morgan certainly looks the part. But he spent most of Sunday with his helmet perched on the top of his head after having his calf iced down and doesn't believe this will be a big setback.

"I'm out here being with the defense and understanding what we do," Morgan said. "I feel like I'm going to fit in perfectly with what we do. I've been able to go through all the walkthroughs and kind of get a mental grasp of things. As far as my leg, as soon as it gets healthy, I feel like I will hit the ground running."

Defensive tackle Jovan Haye said everyone understands Morgan has to be healthy and tries to advise the rookie to be patient.

"I know he wants to be out there," Haye said. "At the end of the day, we're focused on training camp, getting better every day. We know what the ultimate goal is, get everybody healthy for the opener against Oakland (on Sept. 12). That's the ultimate goal."

Notes: Vincent Fuller, usually the Titans' fifth defensive back in passing situations, worked at outside cornerback Sunday. A major switch in his future? No. Fisher said the Titans are a bit short of healthy cornerbacks with Tye Hill slowed by a tight hamstring. ... Rookie WR Marc Mariani had several nice catches, including one where he stretched out for a ball.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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