Finally, McNair has all hands on deck

Injured receiving unit at full strength as Pickens, Thigpen return

Titans notebook

January 04, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair will have, for a rare time this season, his full arsenal healthy for Sunday's divisional playoff game against the Ravens.

Receivers Carl Pickens and Yancey Thigpen have both missed time with an assortment of injuries. Pickens, who signed as a free agent shortly before training camp after parting with the Cincinnati Bengals, has played in just eight games this season; Thigpen has played in 11.

Neither Pickens nor Thigpen are on the injury report and both are expected to contribute Sunday. They were the preseason starters before injuries vaulted Derrick Mason and Chris Sanders in the lineup. That duo has started the last 12 games and will start Sunday.

"It is good because we are going to need everybody this weekend," McNair said. "With Yancey healthy and Carl having a great day of practice [yesterday], things are looking up for us. Going into the playoffs, especially against a good defense like this, it's always good to have all your weapons healthy. We have them, and now we just have to go out there and stay focused and make plays."

It has been an especially frustrating year for Pickens, who was supposed to bring another dimension to the Titans' offense with his big-play ability.

Instead, he caught 10 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns while playing in just half of the games because of a hamstring injury. McNair said he has noticed a re-charged Pickens, who will be playing in the first postseason game of his nine-year career.

"His frame of mind has changed," McNair said. "Now, Carl is the first one in line in individuals trying to get the ball because ... having not been in the playoffs. Carl will probably be a big difference in this ballgame."

Injury update

McNair returned to practice yesterday after sitting out Tuesday with a sore ankle. "Steve did most of the work and threw well today," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.

Linebacker Randall Godfrey strained his groin during practice and did not return. Guard Bruce Matthews (toe) and safety Marcus Robertson (leg) did not practice and are questionable for Sunday's game. Matthews has not missed a game since Nov. 1, 1987, against the Cowboys.

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