Barrett Ruud’s season is finished, which means it is likely the veteran linebacker has played his final game — period — for the Tennessee Titans.
Kevin Malast filled the open roster spot Tuesday after he was signed off Jacksonville’s practice squad. Malast, out of Rutgers, was in training camp with the Titans and previously spent the 2009 season on the Chicago Bears practice squad. He also was in training camp with Chicago in 2010.
Ruud missed four of the last five games, including each of the last three, and failed to finish the other (Nov. 20 at Atlanta) because of a groin injury.
Plus, two linebackers — Akeem Ayers (shoulder) and Gerald McRath (ankle/knee) — were injured during Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints. Their potential availability for this Sunday’s game at Indianapolis (noon, CBS) would be evaluated throughout the week, coach Mike Munchak said Monday.
Without some sort of transaction, the Titans would have started practice Wednesday with just five healthy players at linebacker. One of those would be long-snapper Ken Amato, who rarely has played defense during his eight-plus seasons in the league.
“You see where guys are at [and] that’s where you start considering those types of things — for special teams more than anything,” Munchak said. “I think special teams with [coach] Alan Lowry … we had so many guys getting nicked [Sunday] that he was changing the special teams rosters dramatically because all of the injuries.”
Ruud was a free agent when he signed a one-year contract with Tennessee early in training camp. He was added to provide some much-needed veteran presence to the middle of the defense following the free agent departure of Stephen Tulloch.
He spent his first six seasons in the league with Tampa Bay and led the Buccaneers in tackles each of the last four seasons, during which he missed just one game.
The recent emergence of rookie Colin McCarthy made it seem unlikely Ruud would be back in 2012.
McCarthy made 54 tackles over the past five weeks and was the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week for his performance at Buffalo on Dec. 4. He forced two fumbles, recovered two and had an interception.
In nine games, Ruud made 68 stops and had one interception. His tackle total is his lowest since 2006, when he made 59 as a backup with the Buccaneers.
“With the other injuries … we have to see exactly where [McRath] is and to what extent his injury is,” Munchak said. “That affects the linebacker spot so we are kind of weighing those different things.
“Would [Ruud] be able to come back and help us in a week if we needed him and that kind of thing? … [We have] to make sure that we have healthy guys and enough guys and make adjustments.”