NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Titans cornerback Jason McCourty finally is ready for his season debut Sunday, even though the veteran hasn’t taken a hit harder than what teammates muster up in padded practices.
McCourtry isn’t saying if he’s 100 percent following groin surgery Aug. 24. When asked about his health, McCourty has a short answer:
”I’ll be out there. That’s all that matters.”
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The Titans (1-2) can use the cornerback who has started 72 of the 90 games he’s played over the past six seasons, including every game the past three years. McCourty has 11 career interceptions and has forced six fumbles. He joins a defense allowing only 194.7 yards passing this season when he starts against Buffalo (2-2) opposite cornerback Perrish Cox.
”I think it’ll mean a lot,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said Thursday. ”The other guys have done an excellent job, but when you can get your best players on the field (it helps). And we’ve missed him and his playmaking ability. It’ll be good to have him back.”
The Titans rank second allowing opponents to convert 30.2 percent of their third downs and fifth in sacks per pass attempt. But they have given up too many deep passes, including twice on third-and-20 against Indianapolis in a 35-33 loss on Sept. 27.
”Obviously, the deep balls were one of the things that, regardless of who’s in there, we’ve got to stop,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ”Especially those third-and-20’s were a difficult pill to swallow, but it always helps to get a good football player back. It makes us deeper at the positon.”
Coty Sensabaugh, who started the first three games in McCourty’s place is expected to slide to Tennessee’s third cornerback in passing situations.
McCourty originally hurt his groin Aug. 6, and the Titans hoped a couple weeks of treatment would ease the injury. Then McCourty had surgery Aug. 24 trying to prevent the injury from lingering through the season. That meant he missed all four preseason games in addition to the first three games of the regular season.
Sitting out wasn’t easy, but McCourty said he tried to learn what he could by watching and help coach up his teammates on the sideline. With the Titans coming off a 2-14 season and having lost six straight at home, McCourty said he is just eager to get back on the field.
”This is what we get paid to do is play football,” McCourty said. ”When you’re sitting on the sideline, you kind of feel bad. That’s not what you’re paid to do. Getting the opportunity to go out and play and have the ability and opportunity to make some plays to help the team will be a good feeling.”
McCourty already talked to his twin, Devin, for any tips the Patriots defensive back could offer on Buffalo. New England beat the Bills 40-32 in Week 2, so his brother gave McCourty a jump-start on studying Buffalo.
Bills coach Rex Ryan called McCourty an outstanding player who will give Tennessee a big boost.
”But I like the way their defense is playing,” Ryan said in a conference call. ”Dick LeBeau comes over there to join Ray Horton and things like that, that’s a pretty darn good coaching staff right there, and those guys play extremely hard. I’ve been impressed with them.”
Notes: Everyone on the roster practiced with LB Wesley Woodyard back a day after his wife gave birth to a son. RG Chance Warmack (right knee) and NT Sammie Hill (right knee) were limited for a second straight practice. McCourty practiced fully along with CB Cody Riggs (knee).
Freelance writer Terry McCormick contributed to this report.
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