Titans lose another starter for season to injury


Titans lose another starter for season to injury

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee's offensive line is what coach Mike Munchak calls a ``work in progress'' now that right tackle David Stewart is the third starter lost to injury.

Center Eugene Amano tore his right triceps in August, and right guard Leroy Harris' season ended in November with a right knee injury. Then Stewart broke his right leg on the team's third offensive play in their 24-10 loss to Houston on Sunday.

And those aren't even all the injuries on the line.

Munchak said Monday they were waiting for test results on left guard Steve Hutchinson's right knee, but will need to add more offensive linemen. When left tackle Michael Roos hurt his knee and came out for a play, Hutchinson returned with the rest of the line scrambled as the Titans (4-8) lost their second straight and fourth in five games.

``It seems like this is one of those years where what can go wrong is going wrong, and we're getting challenged in a lot of different ways,'' Munchak said.

When Roos hurt his knee with 9:13 left in the third quarter that left the Titans with limited options. Mike Otto, who had replaced Stewart, moved to left tackle. Center Fernando Velasco, who hadn't played tackle since high school, moved to right tackle, with Hutchinson coming back at left guard and Kevin Matthews sliding to center.

``It seemed like I was the only one standing and everybody else just kind of fell out,'' right guard Deuce Lutui said. ``At the time, you just kind of wonder who's coming in and if I even have to make a move.''

With Stewart out, the Texans batted down even more passes. All the injuries led to Jake Locker being sacked six times and hit a total of eight times, leading him to lose two fumbles and three interceptions. Locker had been sacked only five times in his previous six starts.

``You never want to see your quarterback take a beating like that,'' Velasco said. ``That's our job as offensive linemen. I know it comes with running backs and tight ends and all, but as an offensive line, that's what we take to heart not to let our quarterback get hit like that and to protect our quarterback. ... We didn't do a very good job at it.''

Both Munchak and Velasco took issue with a hit Velasco took from Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith on the Titans' final offensive play, their sixth and final turnover. Officials flagged Smith for a personal foul, and Locker took up for his lineman by confronting Smith. Velasco called it ``very, very cheap shot'' and said that he hopes the NFL fines Smith.

Munchak, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman, didn't mince words.

``Totally unnecessary. Uncalled for. No place in the game for it. All those things,'' he said. ``They threw the flag. Obviously they saw it. I'm sure there'll be some consequences to that. That's just totally out of line.''

Now the Titans (4-8), who visit Indianapolis (8-4) on Sunday, have to wait and see if Hutchinson can play before figuring out who starts on the offensive line. Munchak said the veteran might play or could miss a game or two. They also have to correct issues that included at least six dropped passes.

The Titans are another loss away from their second losing season in three years. Munchak led them to a 9-7 record in his first year, and finishing this stretch strong may be a bigger challenge than starting cold as a head coach coming off a lockout, as he did in 2011.

He said the best compliments he got as a player came in seasons with only a handful of wins. Munchak wants to finish strong and insists nobody will be quitting with future jobs on the line.

``You hope if you have to go through a season like this like we're going right now, you hope that you can look back and say there was some good that came out of this. For us right now all you can look at, you've got four weeks left. The goal is to be a lot better in four weeks than you are right now. I mean that's all you can work on. We can't take back the past,'' Munchak said.

``The question is again can we win all four? We'll see.''

NOTES: Munchak also said safety Robert Johnson may be done for the season after tearing ligaments in his foot. ... DE Kamerion Wimbley was having tests after hurting a big toe late against Houston. ... WR Damian Williams hurt a hamstring when he tried to pull up and avoid hitting a stadium worker on the sideline late in the first half.


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They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings