Kearse defends leaving game after being scratched
Tennessee veteran defensive end Jevon Kearse says he didn't stick around to watch the game against Indianapolis after being a healthy scratch, visiting with family instead. And if deactivated again? "It just depends on how I'm feeling," Kearse said Wednesday. It was an obvious football move for a Tennessee team reeling from a winless start after posting the NFL's best mark at 13-3 in 2008 to replace a veteran whose production is down with a youthful player. Coach Jeff Fisher didn't fine Kearse and insists the issue is over. Teammates declined Wednesday to say how they would feel if scratched 90 minutes before kickoff, and several insisted the Titans remain committed and together despite being 0-5. Whether that solidarity continues depends on how many more losses rack up and how many more lineup changes follow. Kearse had started 21 games since being signed to a two-year contract in 2008. The 11-year veteran has only one sack, three quarterback pressures and nine tackles. The Titans started William Hayes, a fourth-round pick in 2008, in his place, and Hayes has 1 1/2 sacks, six quarterback pressures and 26 tackles. "He's doing what we drafted him to do," Fisher said. Kearse said he had a feeling he might not play as of last Thursday, prompting him to arrive at LP Field later than usual but in time for pregame activities. That's when Fisher told him he was being deactivated and that he needed to be more healthy despite not being on the injury report this season. The veteran listened, didn't say anything and then left to join family and friends. "Once I got the official word, I jumped back in my Benz and I went home," Kearse said. Wasn't the veteran interested in setting an example for the 16 first-, and second-year players on the Tennessee roster? Providing tips based on his years of experience during the game? Kearse refused to get into that topic. "What can you do now? It's not going to change the record or the season or anything else," he said. This roster change follows Fisher tweaking his practice schedule last week, a half-hour difference still being used Wednesday. Fisher never has been the kind of coach to rearrange locker rooms or move players around inside trying to spark his team. The coach also isn't worried about any impression left on younger players by Kearse splitting before the game. Kerry Collins said he didn't think any of his teammates thought anything of Kearse leaving after being scratched. "That's an issue between Jevon and Jeff," Collins said. The move didn't result in any immediate results. The Titans didn't sack Peyton Manning even once, and they lost 31-9 to the Colts. Next up is New England (3-2) on Sunday before their bye, and another loss would be the longest losing streak to start a season since the then-Houston Oilers opened 0-10 in 1984. They do seem talked out in a season in which so much was expected. Running back LenDale White, who has just 33 carries for 133 yard and one touchdown, said nobody can point a finger because 100 would point back. No hissyfits or throwing objects across a room would help either. "The object you threw across the room is not a touchdown. That's not it," White said. "It's a great emotional way to let your team know you're there and you'll do whatever it takes. At the same time, there's only so much talking you can do." Notes: Defensive back Vincent Fuller (broken right arm) practiced Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 27 but was limited with no contact. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan (right hamstring) did not practice along with safety Michael Griffin (neck), cornerback Nick Harper (broken right arm), offensive lineman Leroy Harris (concussion) and right guard Jake Scott (illness). Tight end Craig Stevens (concussion) sat out, and Fisher said he will not practice this week.