While the Tennessee Titans know the situation with Delanie Walker being out, they are still in determination mode with a couple of their other offensive stars.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota left the game after two consecutive interceptions following a low hit that caused him to lose feeling in his throwing arm. And on the first of those interceptions, left tackle Taylor Lewan was knocked out with a concussion, courtesy of a crack back block from the Dolphins' Andre Branch.
“He's still being evaluated. We're hopeful that we'll get a good report back on his arm, so we can move forward with having him as our quarterback. It's important that we have everybody that's healthy and available for these games,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.
Vrabel didn't sound as if the Titans would need to add another quarterback to the roster, but left open that possibility if they don't get good news on Mariota.
“I think that's what Jon (Robinson) and I are looking at,” Vrabel said. “Right now, we would say that - again, things are looking OK. But, if that situation arises, we'd have to have that conversation about getting another guy in here.”
As for Lewan, he is in the concussion protocol and must follow that process before he can be cleared to return to playing.
“Taylor (Lewan) is resting. He's obviously in the protocol. I'll be respectful of that process and make sure that everything is followed. He will not be out here. He will not do anything until he's ready,” Vrabel said. “Again, I take that very seriously having been in that situation, having kids who have been in that situation, having friends that have been in that situation. That has been told and given to Taylor by me, that he will not do anything until he is ready. The worst thing he can do is have any kind of pressure to try to get back. That's not going to help him.”
The hits that caused both injuries were somewhat controversial, and there were reports that Branch yelled, “body bag” after the hit on Lewan. That helped to prompt a mid-field melee right after the play.
“This game is a vicious game. It's played by different types of people. They’re not normal people. They're professional football players. Do I think it was dirty? Probably not. Do I think it was targeted at Taylor? I would say absolutely,” Vrabel said.
As for the hit on Mariota that was low by former Titan William Hayes, Vrabel said that in similar situations, he will now expect his defensive players to carry out the same thing on opposing quarterbacks, if that is going to be allowed on Mariota, who was in the shotgun and executing a run/pass option where he handed the ball to Derrick Henry.
“I asked him, are we going low? Jerome (Boger) said, 'Yes, if he's carrying out a fake,'” Vrabel said. “Just as long as that's the rule, then we just have to do business as business that's being done. For every quarterback that's carrying out a fake, we'll have to do it the same way. That's what I told Dean (Pees). If that's legal, then we have to do it the same exact way. We have to do business as business is being done.”
Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who replaced Mariota after the second interception, called the play by Hayes a “cheap hit” when defending Mariota's initial decision to stay in after the injury.
“The juices are flowing, the adrenaline is high, and you prepare so hard to play on Sunday, you don't want a cheap hit like that to knock you out,” Gabbert said.
When asked to clarify, Gabbert was careful with his words.
“Some guys play the game a certain way, and some guys don't. That's probably the hot topic in the media this morning. The rules are pretty gray, so I don't really know what they are. I mean Derrick Henry is at the line of scrimmage (with the ball), so read between the lines on that one,” Gabbert said.