The offensive lines of the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans got a break Wednesday when each team placed one of their top defensive linemen on injured reserve.
Tennessee defensive tackle Tony Brown and Houston defensive end Mario Williams had their seasons end prematurely by the move.
Brown battled knee problems throughout the offseason, training camp and all 13 games of this season. He was inactive for two games in October and rarely had a full week of practice in advance of any of his 11 appearances.
“Everyone needs to practice and Tony got to the point where he was having a hard time protecting himself,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “It was a courageous effort throughout the year playing with a great deal of pain and trying to help us win and be productive on defense.”
Brown finished with 17 tackles and 3.5 sacks – his lowest numbers of the past four seasons.
“He just came in really, really sore after the weekend of rest and I felt like the knee would be prohibitive from the standpoint of playing anymore this season, so we placed him on injured reserve,” Fisher said.
He became the Titans’ second significant contributor placed on injured reserve this week. A day earlier, starting center Eugene Amano was placed on IR with a neck injury.
Amano had started every game this season.
Williams, the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, had battled a sports hernia for more than two months. He saw only limited playing time in the Texans’ loss to Baltimore on Monday.
Even so, he leads the team with 8.5 sacks.
Sunday marks the end of a streak of 77 consecutive starts, currently the most among all NFL defensive ends, is the first time he will miss a game.
“It’s been a tough, tough road for him,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. “We were trying to work him in practice a certain way that we could get him through gameday, but … this thing had hit a boiling point, so to speak. The kid was really down and couldn’t go.”
In addition to Williams, the Texans also placed right guard Mike Brisiel and wide receiver David Anderson on IR. Briesel had started the last six games and nine overall. Anderson, a backup, had 11 receptions for 117 yards.
• Malcolm Sheppard was signed off the Houston practice squad to fill Brown’s spot on the roster.
“I wish we wouldn’t have lost him, I can tell you that,” Kubiak said. “Great kid, effort player, always playing hard, a little undersized, but you’re going to get everything he’s got, very strong. Boy I love him to death.”
Sheppard (6-foot-2, 289 pounds) joined the Texans as an undrafted rookie out of Arkansas.
Kevin Matthews, the son of former Titans/Oilers great Bruce Matthews, was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster to fill Amano’s spot.
• Titans’ left tackle Michael Roos was one of 26 NFL players (11 on offense, 11 on defense, four on special teams) named to the USA Football All-Fundamentals team.
Roos was chosen because he excels in the fundamental skill of pass blocking footwork.
“Fundamentals are something I try to work on every day of my career,” Roos said. “… You’ll never be perfect but as long as you work on it you’ll get close.”
As part of the award, a $1,500 donation will be made to the high school of Roos’ choice.