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Titans' injuries might put Nickey in starting role

NASVHILLE, Tenn. (July 5, 2005) -- Tennessee Titans safety Donnie Nickey says he is getting ready for the opener just as if he were going to be the starter.

With Tank Williams still recovering from surgery, Nickey is practicing with the first team and getting ready in case Williams can't start Sept. 11 at Pittsburgh.

"I am focusing like I am going to be the starter," Nickey said. "I am looking at things like, 'Tank is not going to be ready, so it's going to be me.' That way I have no surprises. So the surprise to me is I am not starting week one."

Williams still is recovering from left ACL surgery in November, and he hasn't practiced with the team in organized workouts this offseason. He's a question mark for the start of the season.

Nickey, who was waived at the beginning of last season, started six games at the end of the year and keeps working out with the regulars.

"I have no reservations about putting Donnie out there," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "Donnie benefited substantially from his play last year. Not only did he play a starting role, he also played on special teams when Tank went down. ... He is lining up, he is communicating with everybody, and he knows what to do."

The Titans are a bit unsettled at safety.

Not only did Nickey replace Williams on the field last year, but Lamont Thompson also relieved veteran Lance Schulters at free safety when Schulters went down with an early-season injury in 2004. Schulters was released a few weeks ago, assuring Thompson of the starting spot at free safety.

Williams said there is "definitely a shot" he could be back for the Pittsburgh game.

"That's what I am shooting for. I am shooting for the first game," he said. "Now what happens, my knee is going to be the judge of that."

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