The Tennessee Titans missed the veteran presence of Wesley Woodyard last week in Buffalo, as the inside linebacker did not make the trip due to a shoulder injury.
Woodyard’s absence opened up more playing time for rookie first-round pick Rashaan Evans, who had some issues in the role, especially with tackling and taking the correct angles.
When Woodyard got back onto the practice field on Wednesday – albeit in a limited role – it was a welcome sight for Titans coach Mike Vrabel and the defense, which counts on Woodyard’s stability in the middle of the defense. Woodyard not only has been a vastly productive player for the Titans, especially in the past two years, but also is the defensive captain and has the communication device in his helmet.
“Well, he’s a veteran leader. When you don’t have those guys out here, you lose some of that leadership that guys who have played in tough games, in close games, fourth-quarter games on the road—you lose that,” Vrabel said.
Woodyard said he stayed at home this past weekend and watch the Titans' loss with his family. He is eager to be able to get back on the field and contribute.
“We’ve got a good trainer. Todd (Toriscelli) is one of the best in the business. I’m taking my time, getting healthy every day,” Woodyard said before Wednesday’s practice. “I’m doing whatever I need to do to help the team.”
Vrabel said Wednesday that he would never use injuries as an excuse for a loss, but it was easy to read between the lines to see exactly how much Woodyard’s presence on the field was missed in a loss to the Bills.
“I’m hopeful and never stand up here, I don’t want to say never, and use any excuses for injuries and that’s just really where we don’t want to go. So, we’ll get him back when we can get him back, and we can’t wait to get him back, but we have to get the guys ready to play who will be there and hopefully we see where he’s at,” Vrabel said.
Vrabel indicated that Woodyard looked better the more practice went along on Wednesday, even though he was limited in practice.
“He’s starting to look like he’s loosen up as practice went along, which is always a good thing. You try to get out there and see what you can do. The better you feel, the more you do. Then we’ll evaluate him after practice and then take a look at him (today).”