When Tennessee Titans’ trainers went out on the field to tend to injured defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks on Sunday, the rest of the team’s defensive linemen were not far behind.
It was a gesture symbolic of the way that unit has rallied around injury all season.
“A lot of people see the way we roll off the field and on the sideline,” Marks said. “We always ride together. In practice, around the facility, outside of it we just stick together. We know exactly what we’ve got going on. … We’ve got that kind of camaraderie. We’re all in it for each other.”
Now, they’re going to have to do it again.
First-round draft pick Derrick Morgan will miss the rest of the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, coach Jeff Fisher announced during his regular press briefing Monday. Morgan was hurt during the first half of the 26-20 loss to the Denver Broncos at LP Field.
Marks also sustained a knee injury and might miss some time. His was not season-ending, though.
“For (Morgan) personally, it’s a hard thing,” Fisher said. “The ACL is a lengthy, grueling process. If there’s any positive to be taken from this, is that he’ll be back by the mid-to-end of the offseason program and should be fine for training camp, as compared to a late season injury.
“… He was playing very well for us. For our defensive line, he’s going to be missed but we have guys who will have to step up. You deal with injuries all the time and guys step up and they play.”
In that regard, nothing changes. Morgan’s injury guarantees that the defensive line will not play one game this season with all of its members healthy.
Defensive end William Hayes missed the first two contests with a knee injury he sustained early in training camp. He returned just as Jacob Ford was sidelined with a knee injury of his own, which has caused him to miss the last two games.
Even defensive line coach Jim Washburn has worked the last two weeks on crutches and with the aid of a scooter because he sustained a broken leg during the Week 2 loss to Pittsburgh when players crashed into the Titans’ sideline and rolled into him.
“Wash is still himself,” Marks said. “He’s still the same guy. The only thing is he can’t move around as fast as he wants to.”
None of those issues have hindered the production of that group.
The Titans have 16 sacks through the first four games, which ties them for the league lead and puts them on pace for 64 for the season. The franchise record is 55, set back in 2000.
Twelve of those sacks have come from five defensive linemen, including 1.5 by Morgan. Dave Ball leads the team with 4.5.
“We’re very tight,” defensive end Jason Babin, who has 3.5 sacks, said. “That’s how we play … Dave’s sacks, my sacks, it’s because of all of us working together. There’s no selfishness. … Everybody’s hunting together.
“You can turn on our tape and see the way we play. I guarantee you the other D-lines around the league are like, ‘Man, look at those guys.’”
The only thing is now there’s one less guy to see.
• Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil was fined $40,000 by the league office for an obscene gesture he directed toward officials during the loss to Denver. Television cameras clearly caught the incident, which quickly went viral.
“He’s been fined – he won’t be suspended,” Fisher said. “And clearly, I’m speaking on behalf of the organization, that kind of conduct on the sideline—anyplace for that matter, is inappropriate. The league has already dealt with the issue.”
The incident is the second of its kind in recent years for the franchise. Team owner Bud Adams was fined $250,000 last November when he repeatedly made that gesture near the end of a victory over Buffalo.
“I didn’t realize it happened until I got in the car,” Fisher said. “I had a discussion with (Cecil on Sunday) night and that’s between he and I. We’re done, we’ve moved on.
“The league has taken swift and appropriate action and we’ve moved on.”
Cecil later released a statement through the team: “I want to apologize to the NFL, organization, fans and my family for my gesture yesterday. It was inappropriate and there is no excuse for that type of behavior under any circumstance.”