Taped in Nate Washington’s locker sits a message from more than two years ago from Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
The message, dated 6/30/07 comes from stationery bearing Tomlin’s name on it, says,
Where’s your head at?
What’s your expectations for you?
What are you willing to do?
See ya soon,
Washington said he was one of the players Tomlin challenged via this letter in the mail when Tomlin first took over as the Steelers head coach. And Washington has taken the message to heart, even as he prepares to face his old team and his old coach Thursday night at Heinz Field as a member of the Tennessee Titans.
“He kind of had an individual meeting with a couple of guys on the team. I got home and I received that card from him, and I’ve kept it no matter where I’ve gone,” said Washington, who signed a six-year, $27 million package with the Titans this off-season. “I really didn’t know him much, but being that he watched me on film, I’ve always felt that way. I’ve always felt that I was coming up short in my work in practice. I was coming up short in the plays I could have made in the game, and him saying that to me, let me know that I was right there, that I just needed to work harder. So I put that up in my locker and it kind of reminds me.”
Washington’s hard work in his rehab back from a hamstring just might allow him to play against the Steelers just over two weeks after suffering the injury on Aug. 24.
He practiced in limited fashion for a second straight day, prompting Titans coach Jeff Fisher to declare him a game-time decision. It appears quite possible that Washington might be able to give the Titans at least a few plays in certain situations in the season opener against his former team.
“I’m pleased with where he is. I imagine he’ll probably be a game-time decision. There’s a lot of factors for basing a decision. I’m impressed with what he’s done so far,” Fisher said.
Washington said he woke up with hamstring soreness from the previous day’s work, but figured that was normal for having been out of practice for so long.
“Of course, there’s going to be soreness. I’ve been doing a lot more practice work these past couple of days. It was sore, but it wasn’t hurting,” Washington said. “It was just sore, and the soreness sometimes is a good thing from what I hear. You just have to work through the soreness and loosen it back up. I loosened it back up for practice today, and I felt pretty good. I felt real good actually.”
The news might not be as encouraging for the other Titan who is a game-time decision. Tight end Jared Cook, who was limited to early work because of an ankle problem on Monday, did not practice at all on Tuesday, leaving his situation up in the air as game time approaches.
“He didn’t practice today. We’ll have a classification for him [Wednesday],” Fisher said. “He’s got an ankle [injury] and he’s working through it.”
If Cook is unable to go, Fisher is confident that players like Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler and the Titans wide receivers can fill the void of the rookie who was a preseason sensation.
“In the event he is unable to play, which we’re not certain of as of yet, we’ve got other players that can step up and play,” Fisher said.
Fowler signs with Jets
Former Titans linebacker Ryan Fowler, who was waived in final cuts on Saturday, wasn’t out of work long, signing with the New York Jets.
The Jets have been busy scouring through the Titans leftovers, having already claimed tight end Matt Mulligan off waivers and briefly having punter A.J. Trapasso after he was let go.
Fowler signed as a restricted free agent with the Titans in 2007 and started all of that season before losing the job to Stephen Tulloch early last year.
No signs of problems
Another player let go in final cuts, receiver Mark Jones, was headed to the Carolina Panthers, but failed a physical before he could be signed.
Jones missed most of camp with a hamstring injury, but practiced and played in the Titans final two preseason games before being let go.
“He played for two weeks, and he practiced for 10 days,” Fisher said of Jones, when asked if he had to pass an exit physical when he was let go by Tennessee.