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Titans have injury problems on defense


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By Paul Kuharsky

ESPN.com

(Archive)

Updated: December 15, 2008, 5:18 PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Tennessee Titans are going to pressure Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning in their last two regular-season games, they're going to have to do it without their two top defensive linemen.

Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch are out until the playoffs, coach Jeff Fisher said at his Monday press conference.

Haynesworth suffered a MCL sprain of his left knee when his leg was pinned and rolled on late in Sunday's loss in Houston.

Vanden Bosch didn't play Sunday and missed three games and the bulk of two others earlier this season with a groin injury. He's having surgery to repair muscle that Fisher said was injured last week against the Cleveland Browns.

The Titans have already secured a first-round bye in the playoffs and Fisher said he expects both linemen, Pro Bowlers last season, to be ready for that divisional-round game on Jan. 10 or 11.

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Watch highlights from the Houston Texans' 13-12 win over the Tennessee Titans.

"I look at this as good news, we're expected to have them both back for the playoffs," Fisher said.

Fisher said Haynesworth's injury is oftentimes a 10-day to two-week recovery, "so there is no doubt in our mind that he'll be back." Vanden Bosch's specialist shared similar optimism, Fisher said.

Tennessee hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and then finishes the regular season in Indianapolis. The Titans have a one-game lead atop the AFC over the Steelers and with a win can lock up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for the AFC Championship Game if they advance to it.

Haynesworth's injury means the Titans are down to two healthy defensive tackles in Tony Brown and Jason Jones and will need to add depth. Kevin Vickerson has two games remaining on a four-game suspension for a violation of the league's policy against steroid and performance enhancers.

The Titans have tackle Amon Gordon and end Charles Bennett on their practice squad. End Dave Ball can also help out with snaps at tackle.

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