Titans hopeful McCourty injury won't be an issue by Sunday

Monday, December 5, 2011 at 7:18pm

Cortland Finnegan expects he and the rest of the Tennessee Titans secondary will spend extra time watching film this week.

Jason McCourty, for one, might need to spend some time in a dark room. That’s not a good thing.

McCourty, the Titans’ leader in interceptions and second-leading tackler, has "concussion-like symptoms," according to coach Mike Munchak and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. He was injured when he took a blow to the head while making a tackle in Sunday’s 23-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Given that New Orleans leads the NFL in passing offense and total offense and that their quarterback, Drew Brees, is tied for second in touchdown passes it seems the best thing is for Tennessee pass defense to be at its best Sunday at LP Field.

“We have our work cut out for us,” Finnegan said. “We may not do any interviews this coming week. We might just watch film right after practice. That’s the kind of stuff we’re going to need this week.

“We understand there’s going to be a lot on us in the secondary.”

McCourty is not the only defensive back whose health is in question

Rookie cornerback Tommie Campbell was inactive at Buffalo because of a shoulder injury he sustained a week earlier against Tampa Bay. When McCourty went out, therefore, undrafted rookie Chris Hawkins was pressed into service as part of the Titans’ nickel package.

The good news is that veteran safety Chris Hope has played increasingly more snaps in recent weeks and might now be in position to reclaim his starting spot for Jordan Babineaux or at least to share playing time.

“You have a veteran group with [Finnegan] and [Michael Griffin] and Hope and Babineaux,” Munchak said. “You have some guys that work well together, they have been through this before, they have been through adjustments that we have been adjusting ourselves with those guys. When [McCourty] got hurt, having [Alterraun] Verner who can go right in there and play, so we have been very lucky to have guys that can go in and step up and you don’t see a big drop off.”

The Titans are 18th in the league in pass defense having allowed an average of 233.5 yards per game. They have allowed just three pass plays of 40 yards or more (only Pittsburgh has allowed fewer) and an average of 6.5 yards per attempt, which is tied for fourth.

McCourty has been a mainstay for that unit all season. In addition to his two interceptions he has forced one fumble, recovered one and has made 87 tackles, second only to Babineaux.

“We’re always confident in the guys around us — they work out, they practice hard and we believe in them,” Finnegan said. “… But you want McCourty out there. I do. He’s my ace, but everyone is capable of getting the job done.”

Briefly

• Munchak said initial indications were that the ankle injury sustained by wide receiver Nate Washington against the Bills was not a serious one. He had not gotten confirmation of that through results of an MRI, however.

“We think he is going to be OK,” Munchak said. “… He is having a great year and there is no doubt that it will be important to have him in the lineup. All indications are that he will be questionable during the week but we assume that he will be available on Sunday.”

Washington leads the Titans with 53 receptions and 668 receiving yards. His four receiving touchdowns are second only to Damian Williams.

• Titans defensive linemen were credited with four deflected passes in Sunday’s contest — two by Jason Jones and one each by Sen’Derrick Marks and Karl Klug.

• Finnegan was named the Titans 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year winner, which recognizes community service. It was the second year in a row he won the award and it made him a candidate for the NFL Man of the Year award.