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VOL. 46 | NO. 39 | Friday, September 30, 2022

Lewan has likely played last game for Titans

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Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan was carted off the field with a knee injury early during the loss at Buffalo.  He has missed most of the 2020 season and three games last year.

 

-- Photo By Cooper Neill | Ap

The Tennessee Titans are again going to have to learn to live without Taylor Lewan, maybe for good.

Lewan was placed on injured reserve Saturday before the Titans defeated the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday for their first win of the season. The veteran left tackle suffered a season-ending right knee injury for the second time in the past three years on the first play from scrimmage the Monday night game in Buffalo.

There was hope that he might return, but it appears that his season and perhaps his Titans playing career might be over.

Lewan, who signed a six-year extension in 2018, has a $14.8 million base salary in 2023 with little dead money against the cap for cutting him.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection (2016-18) missed just two games during the 2015-2018 seasons, then was out all but five game in 2020 – the year Derrick Henry rushed for a franchise-record 2,027 rushing yards – with a torn ACL. He missed three games in 2021.

Without Lewan in the lineup, it won’t be easy for the Titans to continue to be the type of team they want to be, running the football consistently and setting up chances in the passing game by protecting Ryan Tannehill.

But somehow Sunday against the Raiders, the Titans put the ugly result in Buffalo behind them, and the patchwork offensive line – one that is now the new normal going forward – held up relatively well.

There were still plays in which Derrick Henry was swallowed at or behind the line of scrimmage, but the line still blocked well enough for Henry to run for 85 yards. They also protected Tannehill, giving up only one sack.

Who knows if the rest of the season will work out as well for the Titans, who already had questions along the offensive front well before Lewan went down.

But for now, fourth-year player Dennis Daley, who arrived from Carolina in the offseason, steps in to try and fill Lewan’s shoes while the rest of the line is still settling in with new starters Aaron Brewer at left guard and rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere at right tackle.

“We need everybody. Every injury is a loss but it’s also an opportunity for somebody else. I’m sure Dennis had some plays he would like back but he competed. I know we’ll continue to work with him and get him into our program,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel says.

“Next man up” has been a Titans mantra ever since last season when the club ran through an NFL-record 91 players on its way to being the AFC’s top playoff seed. This year, through three games, Tennessee has already stashed 10 players on injured reserve since final roster cuts Aug. 30.

Center Ben Jones says losing Lewan is again a tough blow, but one for which the Titans will take a familiar track: cope and adapt.

“It’s how this line’s been built. Every year we’ve had multiple guys go down,” Jones says. “Taylor (Lewan) is a fighter. We never want to see something like that happen to one of our guys. He’s one of our brothers. But it’s always this mentality, ‘the next guy up,’ in this league. That’s how guys get opportunities and you’ve got to take advantage of those.”

While Lewan might not be on the field physically, Petit-Frere says the veteran tackle was still doing his part on the sideline and was out there in spirit, sort of as an extra set of eyes for him and Daley.

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