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Titans LB Sirmon aiming to return after bye

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Nov. 10, 2005) -- Peter Sirmon still has his sense of humor.

The Tennessee linebacker missed the entire 2004 season after tearing his left ACL and came into this season healthy and recovered. Then he sprained his right knee, followed by a teammate accidentally kicking his right ankle.

The combination has left him banged up and sitting out two of the past three games. Asked Wednesday about which legs had been hurt, Sirmon was able to smile and dance a gimpy little jig back and forth on both legs.

"It's something that goes up and down with me. Hopefully, this little bit of time will get it behind us," Sirmon said.

The linebacker might be the one who benefits most from this week's bye for the Titans (2-7). Sirmon has tried playing through the injuries most of the season only to be held out of their 20-10 loss Oct. 23 at Arizona. He dressed as an emergency option but did not play last week in a 20-14 loss at Cleveland.

Sirmon has been working out this week under the watchful eye of trainers, and both he and coach Jeff Fisher think the rest might help him put the two injuries behind him.

"Hopefully soon. We just have to wait and see how the rest, how that helps," Sirmon said.

The Titans could use the veteran linebacker back on the field and healthy. The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Sirmon became their starter at left outside linebacker in 2002 and had three interceptions, followed by a career-high 141 tackles in 2003 that ranked second only to linebacker Keith Bulluck.

He's the linebacker the Titans prefer to have on the field with Bulluck in passing situations when they play two linebackers. Middle linebacker Brad Kassell has had to help fill that void when Sirmon has been forced off the field.

Fisher said having Sirmon on the field helps the Titans line up correctly with a settling effect on the defense.

"He'll trigger things. He'll offer subtle reminders across the board. Those kind of things are very, very important," Fisher said. "When a guy's 99 percent sure of what to do and it's reaffirmed, then he can play. Those are the kind of things Pete does for us."

He still ranks sixth on defense with 32 total tackles and has a sack and a fumble recovery.

"It looks as if things will be behind him once we get on the practice field next week," Fisher said optimistically.

That would put Sirmon on track to play Nov. 20 against Jacksonville.

But he's not been the only defensive player hurting. Linebacker Rocky Boiman has been slowed by a sore calf, defensive end Antwan Odom has an injured knee and cornerback Andre Woolfolk has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.

Boiman and Woolfolk were with Sirmon running and stretching on a side field Wednesday.

The Titans rank 20th in the NFL on defense, allowing 323.6 yards per game. But they are 25th in points allowed per game at 25.6 per game.

"Anything will help the defense now," Bulluck said. "We need all the guys that we can get, especially the guys with experience. We get Pete back, get Rocky back, we'll be all right."

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