Originally posted on Fox Sports Tennessee  |  Last updated 11/10/11
When last seen at LP Field after Sunday's loss to Cincinnati, WR Nate Washington could barely walk and said his hip had gone numb on him late in the game. By Wednesday, Washington was feeling much better, even though he did not practice. The likely plan is for Washington to rest for a couple of days and perhaps practicing on Friday with the receiver likely playing Sunday against the Panthers. "It feels a lot better. I don't know when Coach Munchak is going to allow me to practice again. I'm not too worried about it. My main job is to come in and do the work and get healthy," Washington said. There appears to be no chance for the time being that Jake Locker will be in action under center as rookies like last week's opposing QB Andy Dalton and this week's opponent Cam Newton are. Matt Hasselbeck will continue as the Titans starter, and has played well for the most part this season. The plan of Locker sitting, watching and learning is still on-going, and will continue barring injury to Hasselbeck or the Titans falling completely out of contention in the second half of the season. "This is the situation he got drafted into. If we didn't get Matt, he could be doing what (other rookie quarterbacks) are doing," coach Mike Munchak said. "But he is a professional, and he is handling it and learning from Matt. He'll have plenty of opportunities to prove what he can do." WR Lavelle Hawkins is not on the injury report, despite being in plenty of pain after an open dislocation of the index finger on his right hand. Hawkins still has stitches on the finger, and admits there is obvious pain, but will play through it, especially with Nate Washington already hobbled. "It's as good as it's going to get, but this is the NFL, so you're never going to be healthy once the season starts," Hawkins said. RB Chris Johnson, who has struggled this season with 366 yards through eight games, said he considered his contract demands on a different level than the 43 million (21 million guaranteed) Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams signed. Johnson eventually signed a 53 million extension with 30 million in guarantees. "I always felt like we were in a different category than he was, because throughout his whole career, he's pretty much shared time with another back," Johnson said, referring to the Panthers' tandem of Williams and Jonathan Stewart. BY THE NUMBERS 3 -- Number of times the Titans and Panthers have faced each other despite being in neighboring states of Tennessee and North Carolina. QUOTE TO NOTE "Any time you get paid a big contract or hold out or anything like that, when you get back, they're going to expect a lot out of you. That's just something that comes along with the contract and kind of being the face of the team. Everything comes along with it -- even fans booing you and things like that. It comes along with the territory, and it's a situation where you can't let it get to you." -- RB Chris Johnson on the heightened expectations with his new contract and production. STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL The Titans didn't have any interest in bringing back their former star DT Albert Haynesworth. But when Haynesworth was claimed by Tampa Bay, it meant the Titans will see him in three weeks when the Buccaneers visit LP Field. The lack of a consistent pass rush has hurt the Titans this season, but Haynesworth had too much baggage and the Titans believe in their young defensive tackles Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug and Zach Clayton. PLAYER NOTES FB Ahmard Hall's back stiffened up on him a little bit late last week and in the second half of Sunday's game against Cincinnati, giving rookie Jamie Harper a few snaps at fullback. K Rob Bironas drew some chuckles for his brief tussle with Bengals CB Nate Clements last week. Bironas joked that he had been "working out." RB Javon Ringer, a week after having 60 yards on 14 carries, was back to the understudy role behind Chris Johnson with four carries for 11 yards. S Chris Hope has finally been cleared to practice with his injured forearm, but might not start right away. S Jordan Babineaux, who has filled in for injured S Chris Hope, is probably going to continue to start at least this week for the Titans at strong safety. INJURY IMPACT S Chris Hope returned to practice for the first time since breaking his forearm on Oct 2 at Cleveland. Hope may only be a situational player for the time being due to stamina issues of being out five weeks. QB Matt Hasselbeck sat out Wednesday to rest a sore knee and to rest his sore thumb. He should practice Thursday and will play Sunday. LB Barrett Ruud has only missed one game in his NFL career but missed practice on Wednesday with a groin injury. DE Dave Ball most likely won't play this week due to a concussion sustained against Cincinnati. WR Nate Washington did not practice Wednesday and may miss another day of practice with a hip injury. TE Jared Cook was out Wednesday with a bruised knee, but should practice later in the week. FB Ahmard Hall continues to be bothered by the flair-up of back spasms, but should be able to play Sunday. GAME PLAN Rule No. 1 for the Titans defense is to keep rookie sensation Cam Newton in check. Newton has quickly shown himself capable as an NFL quarterback, and the Titans need to be careful with the way they attack him because of his running ability. That means a normal pass rush might have to be abandoned in favor of a spy for Newton. MATCHUPS TO WATCH Panthers WR Steve Smith vs. Titans CB Jason McCourty -- McCourty struggled a little bit with Bengals rookie A.J. Green and the Panthers would be wise to test him with Smith to see if he has bounced back or not. Titans LT Michael Roos vs. Panthers DE Charles Johnson -- Johnson is one of the players the Panthers locked up with a long-term deal, and he will present a nice challenge for Roos, who has done a good job protecting Matt Hasselbeck's blind side.
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