2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Backup QB turned starter takes over for Titans

By TERESA M. WALKER - AP Sports Writer
    2013-10-02 19:17

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Ryan Fitzpatrick likes how he looks with a bushy beard, it makes him feel comfortable.

Now, about to make his first start in Tennessee with Jake Locker sidelined with a sprained hip, Fitzpatrick is a little upset with himself for shaving his face clean a month ago. His current beard isn't nearly as impressive, and Fitzpatrick needs any edge he can get.

``It's never easy I think to step in from a backup role to the starter kind of mid-stream I guess,'' Fitzpatrick said Wednesday. ``I got to go in there and make these three days very productive. ... Being 3-1 with our defense playing great, I think with the confidence just in general that our team is playing with, this is a fun situation to step into.''

The Titans signed Fitzpatrick to a two-year contract in March wanting the veteran in his ninth season to mentor and back up Jake Locker. Now Locker is out a few weeks with a sprained right hip and knee, it's time for Fitzpatrick to step in and try to keep Tennessee's momentum going until Locker returns.

Fitzpatrick said his role now is different than a week ago. He spent plenty of time talking with receivers during practice Wednesday in what he called side conversations. He also threw to them during defensive drills with some extra work after practice

``With Jake now being injured, I've got to go out and let them know what I expect,'' Fitzpatrick said. ``If you're not on the same page, that's what leads to some of the miscommunication and things that can't happen.''

Titans coach Mike Munchak said it's an adjustment for everybody with Fitzpatrick.

``He's been through it before,'' Munchak said. ``He's been in the league a long time, so we're hoping he can make this adjustment rather quickly because we need that on Sunday.''

The Titans have plenty of confidence in Fitzpatrick because they saw how he nearly beat them last year in Buffalo where he started 32 games over the previous two seasons. Fitzpatrick had 80 touchdowns and 64 interceptions in 55 games with the Bills. He also set Bills records for the longest completion with a 98-yard TD pass and longest TD rushing by a quarterback with a 31-yarder both in 2009.

The Bills cut Fitzpatrick in March to escape the six-year, $59 million deal he signed in October 2011. The Titans scooped him up as a cheaper alternative to back up Locker.

Now Fitzpatrick makes his first start Sunday against Kansas City (4-0). Chiefs coach Andy Reid has seen plenty of Fitzpatrick from his time coaching in Philadelphia where he said the quarterback got after his Eagles pretty good.

``So I'm well aware of him, and have a ton of respect for him, and our team here knows him,'' Reid said. ``They played against him in the past. Everyone knows how capable he is and we'll prepare ourselves to play a heck of a quarterback and a heck of an offense.''

Fitzpatrick is 4-1 against the Chiefs. Munchak has said they likely will not call run plays like they did for Locker, who is averaging 6.5 yards a carry this season. Fitzpatrick said he's never been a real speedster himself.

``Usually I'm running out of fear because those guys are big,'' Fitzpatrick said.

Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson isn't buying that talk. He called the Harvard graduate a smart quarterback who improvises with his legs just like all the other running quarterbacks.

``He's been in the league for a while,'' Johnson said. ``He knows when you make a mistake, he can capitalize off it. This isn't a regular, backup-type quarterback game for us. He can still run all their plays.''

Notes: Locker spoke to reporters Wednesday, walking very stiff and with a neoprene sleeve covering his right leg. He said the injury was pain like he'd never felt before and with the hip joint so big he thought about all the worst possibilities. Locker shared no timetable for his return, saying only that he will be working hard to get back as soon as possible. ... Munchak said the Titans will promote Rusty Smith off the practice squad to back up Fitzpatrick at quarterback. ... WR Kenny Britt returned to practice. RB Shonn Greene (right knee) and DT Sammie Hill (right ankle) worked inside with trainers. DE Ropati Pitoitua (shoulder) did not practice. RT David Stewart (right leg) got the day off.

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AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Alameda Ta'amuDec 21 07:42p

The Arizona Cardinals have declared DL Alameda Ta'amu, OG Anthony Steen, WR Brittan Golden, SS Chris D. Clemons, QB Drew Stanton, OG Jonathan Cooper, DL Kareem Martin inactive for Week 16.

Chris MatthewsDec 21 07:32p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared WR Chris Matthews, DL Demarcus Dobbs, WR Kevin Norwood, C Max Unger, OT Russell Okung, TE Tony Moeaki, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 16.

Ahmad DixonDec 21 11:52a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared SS Ahmad Dixon, LB Anthony Barr, OT Carter Bykowski, OG Charlie Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Shaun Prater, FB Zach Line inactive for Week 16.

Devier PoseyDec 21 11:52a

The Houston Texans have declared WR DeVier Posey, TE Garrett Graham, LB Jason Ankrah, S Josh Aubrey, LB Mike Mohamed, QB Tom Savage, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo inactive for Week 16.

A.J. KleinDec 21 11:52a

The Carolina Panthers have declared LB A.J. Klein, OG Amini Silatolu, CB Carrington Byndom, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, DL Kyle Love, SS Robert Lester inactive for Week 16.

Charles GodfreyDec 21 11:52a

The Atlanta Falcons have declared CB Charles Godfrey, LB James Anderson, OG Jon Asamoah, CB Ricardo Allen, QB Sean Renfree, DL Stansly Maponga, LB Tyler Starr inactive for Week 16.

Jamarca SanfordDec 21 11:52a

The New Orleans Saints have declared SS Jamarca Sanford, DL Lawrence Virgil, LB Moise Fokou, WR Seantavius Jones, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, OT Terron Armstead, RB Travaris Cadet inactive for Week 16.

Justin BrownDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Clifton GeathersDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Carl BradfordDec 21 11:42a

The Green Bay Packers have declared DL Bruce Gaston, LB Carl Bradford, CB Davon House, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis, TE Justin Perillo, QB Scott Tolzien inactive for Week 16.

Chris McCainDec 21 11:42a

The Miami Dolphins have declared LB Chris McCain, OT Dallas Thomas, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Don Jones, WR Matt Hazel, OG Nate Garner, WR Rishard Matthews inactive for Week 16.

Arthur BrownDec 21 11:42a

The Baltimore Ravens have declared LB Arthur Brown, DL Casey Walker, CB Chris Greenwood, C Gino Gradkowski, WR Michael Campanaro, OG Ryan Jensen, DL Terrence Cody inactive for Week 16.

Aaron MurrayDec 21 11:42a

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Aaron Murray, RB Charcandrick West, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, CB Marcus Cooper, DL Nick X. Williams inactive for Week 16.

Gary BarnidgeDec 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared OT Andrew McDonald, TE Gary Barnidge, RB Glenn Winston, CB Joe Haden, DB K'Waun Williams, WR Rodney Smith, OT Vinston Painter inactive for Week 16.

Chris ConteDec 21 11:42a

The Chicago Bears have declared FS Chris Conte, QB David Fales, OG Kyle Long, PK Robbie Gould, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott, DL Will Sutton inactive for Week 16.

Dakota DozierDec 21 11:33a

The New York Jets have declared OL Dakota Dozier, SS Jaiquawn Jarrett, QB Matt Simms, FS Rontez Miles, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 16.

Alfonzo DennardDec 21 11:33a

The New England Patriots have declared CB Alfonzo Dennard, OG Dan Connolly, RB James White, OT Jordan Devey, WR Julian Edelman, CB Kyle Arrington, RB LeGarrette Blount inactive for Week 16.

Anthony CollinsDec 21 11:32a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have declared OT Anthony Collins, FB Evan Rodriguez, CB Isaiah Frey, DL Lawrence Sidbury, RB Mike James, WR Robert Herron, WR Solomon Patton inactive for Week 16.

Kelvin BenjaminDec 21 11:22a

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Joe HadenDec 21 11:22a

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Julio JonesDec 21 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is active Sunday, Dec. 21.

Jay CutlerDec 21 10:22a

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T Y HiltonDec 21 10:22a

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DeMarco MurrayDec 21 10:12a

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Zach ErtzDec 20 07:42p

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Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 20 06:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) will be a game-time decision Sunday, Dec. 21, after not practicing all week.

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New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 16. Edelman didn't receive final clearance from the concussion protocol to play Sunday, Dec. 21.

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