Wycheck finds he fits in fine with Titans

Ex-Terp cut by Redskins enjoying Tennessee's run

Super Bowl XXXIV

AFC notebook

January 26, 2000|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Four years ago, Frank Wycheck was worried that his NFL career might be over.

The former Maryland tight end was switched to fullback by the Washington Redskins, wasn't comfortable in that spot and was cut.

"I was playing a different position. It just wasn't me. It wasn't my style of play. I need to be around the ball," he said.

Of the ill-timed switch to fullback, he said, "I wasn't a Moose," referring to Daryl Johnston's nickname.

He was fortunate that Houston immediately gave him a shot to restart his career.

"For a stretch there, I didn't think I'd ever have a job [in pro football]. It's a reality check when you get cut. It refocuses everything in your life. Every time I start feeling sorry for myself, I'll think back to that day. It'll make me work that much harder. It's just a dream come true to go from that point here. It's just an unbelievable feeling. I never thought it would happen," he said., He likes the team the Titans have.

"We don't have a lot of flashy guys on this team, just a real good hard-working group, a real unselfish team. That's who we are. This is all new to us. Everyone is enjoying themselves," he said.

Although he's been a dependable receiver, he wasn't in the spotlight until he threw the lateral pass that beat the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card playoff game.

"It was just one of those plays where everyone had confidence. When we got in the huddle, we had confidence that play was going to work. We practiced it all year long," he said.

That resulted in Wycheck's getting one of the podium spots at the Georgia Dome on media day.

"This isn't me," he said. "I belong up in the stands or something. It's fun just to contribute to a team like this. It's been a long time for me. I've gone through a lot of ups and downs and to finally come to this point, it has been truly unbelievable," he said.

The injury factor

Injuries are rarely a factor in the pre-game Super Bowl hype. That's because teams hit with a lot of injuries rarely get to the Super Bowl. But the Titans have a few injury problems.

To start with, Anthony Dorsett will play free safety in place of Marcus Robertson, who's out with a broken ankle.

Then there's quarterback Steve McNair, who is wearing a boot on the turf toe that's been bothering him for weeks.

"I feel good," he said. "It's the same thing as last week in that I'm going to try to rest it as many days as I can. Hopefully, it feels better each day and every day. But right now I'm just resting it."

And wide receiver Yancey Thigpen will be listed as doubtful with a hairline fracture of his right foot. Coach Jeff Fisher said he desperately wants to play, but it's unlikely he'll be able to go.

Thigpen said: "They're listing me as doubtful, but there's a shot. It's very sore today, but that's nothing we didn't expect. There's hope. I'm not counting myself out."

Fisher said the team has set up a training room at the hotel. "The big question is Steve. He actually feels pretty good," he said.

Like father

When Dorsett starts in place of Robertson, he'll be part of the third father-son combination to reach the Super Bowl.

His father, Tony Dorsett, played in the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys in his first two years in the NFL at the end of the 1977 and 1978 seasons.

The other two are quarterbacks Bob Griese of Miami and his son Brian of the Dolphins and defensive tackle Frank Cornish of Miami and his son, center Frank Cornish of the Cowboys.

Veteran advice

Thigpen and Neil O'Donnell played in the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Cowboys at the end of the 1995 season.

On his advice for his teammates, Thigpen said: "More than anything, I tell them this is a heavyweight fight. I told the guys, `Be ready to respond.' There's going to be some heavy blows and you've got to respond. When you're hit, you can't back into the corner. You've got to come out fighting."

It also helps if the quarterback doesn't throw interceptions. O'Donnell's two second-half interceptions cost the Steelers the game.

Thigpen said he'd like another week to heal, but if he were healthy, he'd be happy to play the game without the two-week delay.

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