Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Monday that he and running back LenDale White have “cleared the air” and “have an understanding” regarding the running back’s postgame comments about his lack of playing time in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets.
“We have cleared the air. We have an understanding, and again, it’s not the first time we’ve had a player frustrated over something, and not only frustrated over what happened in the ballgame, because we all were,” Fisher said Monday. “But also slightly I think regretful for speaking his opinion in the timing and the manner in which he did. Having an opportunity to think about it, he regrets what he did. Obviously, he puts the team first and was frustrated. We’ve moved on.”
White told reporters from ESPN.com and WBIR-TV in Knoxville that he didn’t care and did not pay attention during the 34-13 pounding from the Jets Sunday, as he carried the ball once for minus-1 yard and dropped a pass in the flat from Kerry Collins on Tennessee’s third series of the game.
“I only played three plays so I really couldn't tell you what happened, I don't really know, I wasn't paying attention, I didn't care really,” White said.
Fisher declined to say whether White would be disciplined for the comments, but did say the running back is likely to be available for Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit.
White’s issues apparently began shortly after the dropped pass and included a sideline exchange with running backs coach Earnest Byner. White sat on the bench for much of the time, including an exchange with linebacker Colin Allred and some conversation with backup quarterback Vince Young, who sat beside him conversing on the bench.
“I’m not going to go into specifics as to what I asked and didn’t ask. Those are scheme things. Those are competitive issues,” Fisher said. “There was stuff that took place on the sideline. It’s over. Everything is fine.”
White’s frustrations spilled over after the game when he questioned the lack of playing time publicly.
“You never know, man,” he said. “I can't tell you that. I don't know if I would have gotten the ball 30 times if we would have won the game or not. I would like to be involved more, or if I am not involved I would like somebody to tell me what's going on. Coming into these games, you expect to get certain carries or expect to see certain things going on, or at least that's what they tell you.
“And then you get in these games and then randomly you only play three plays. I just wish somebody would let me know what's going on before I go out there. Three plays, I don't know what you want me to do with three plays. I don't know what three plays is helping me do.”
Fisher said White came to him to clear the matter after making the comments before he left the stadium.
“I’m a little disappointed in that he expressed himself, which they’re entitled to do, at his frustration in the loss before and those kinds of things before he came to me,” Fisher said. “He came to me after he visited with you people and we got things settled and we moved on. There’s an element of frustration when you’re losing and not playing, and we had 49 offensive snaps yesterday. We’re scrambling around trying to make plays, and it’s just one of those things that happened. We’ve cleared the air. Everything is fine and we’ve moved on from it.”
The Titans only had 11 rushes in the game, and two rushing attempts after halftime, as they were in catch-up mode after falling behind 20-3 in the third period.
Fisher indicated that the Titans, who have averaged only 69.7 yards a game on the ground the past three weeks, including just 45 Sunday, need to get back to running the football consistently.
“It’s clear now at this point in the season, one of the things we need to do is get back to that. It’s time now to get back to the running game,” Fisher said.
The winless Lions might be a good remedy, as Detroit ranks last in the league against the run, surrendering 166.7 yards per game on the ground.
PREPARATION: Titans did not practice Monday, but had a walk-through in preparation for the Lions and were to have dinner together Monday evening as they continue to install the game plan for Thursday’s game.
The short week has the Titans doing a bit of scrambling to get everything in in a short period of time.
“This is technically a Thursday for us, but we’re installing Wednesday’s installation,” Fisher said. “Tomorrow we will combine Thursday and half of Friday. Wednesday we will combine Friday and half of Saturday. We made it very clear to the players. We’re meeting tonight and have dinner together. We’re going to sleep in in the morning and rest and come and get a full day of work in tomorrow.”
INJURIES: The Titans had to send in an injury report to the NFL on Monday with the Thursday game. Even though there was only a walk-through, the Titans and Lions had to project their players’ status as if there had been a practice on Monday. Fisher termed the measure, “somewhat subjective.”
Those listed as having limited participation in practice included defensive end Jevon Kearse (knee), receiver Justin McCareins (ankle), tackle Michael Roos (foot), defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin), linebacker Keith Bulluck (ribs) and cornerback Chris Carr (shoulder).
Those who were listed as did not practice included cornerback Nick Harper (foot), defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (knee), linebacker Colin Allred (concussion), and defensive tackle Jason Jones (foot).
ROOM TO IMPROVE: In the wake of the lopsided loss to the Jets, Fisher said the Titans had already moved on to the Lions game, but in putting the team’s first loss to bed, said there were plenty of plays and player mistakes to correct.
“Sometimes you go through a game and you have a couple of players where you say they could have played a little better,” Fisher said. “We had about 40 of them where we could say that. It was one of those days. We got beat. We got it corrected and we’re moving on.”