NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Titans will need big performances from some inexperienced cornerbacks when they face Buffalo on Monday Night Football.
Coach Mike Vrabel on Saturday ruled out Kristian Fulton, the team’s top cornerback, because of a hamstring injury. Running back Dontrell Hilliard (hamstring) and offensive lineman Jamarco Jones (elbow) were also ruled out. Wide receiver Kyle Philips (shoulder) is questionable.
Fulton’s injury will put even more responsibility on rookie Roger McCreary, the Titans’ 2022 second-round pick, who started and played 59 snaps in Tennessee’s season-opening game.
It will also likely boost the opportunities for Caleb Farley, the Titans’ first-round draft pick in 2021. Farley played 17 defensive snaps against the Giants, after playing just 60 defensive snaps as a rookie last year before suffering a torn ACL.
Other defensive backs that may see expanded roles include rookie Tre Avery, recently acquired Ugo Amadi (38 snaps in the season opener), Josh Kalu and Chris Jackson.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns in Buffalo’s season-opening win over the Los Angeles Rams. Stefon Diggs caught eight passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, while Gabriel Davis added four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.
“The biggest challenge for us will just be communicating,” McCreary said. “This is our first time playing with each other, so we don’t really have that chemistry yet. We’re still learning along the way. So I feel like this will be a big chance for us. I feel like we’re good. We just have to communicate.”
McCreary had a strong opening game against the Giants, as he allowed just one reception for five yards during his 28 coverage snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
“I thought he did a really good job, for the first game, going out there and competing,” Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen said. “I thought he went out there and challenged. Wasn’t at all scared. So I’m encouraged with him and hopefully it keeps progressing.”
Farley, like his teammates, will be playing Buffalo on Monday night for the second straight season. The Titans won the 2021 game, 34-3. But Farley tore his ACL in that contest and missed the rest of the year.
Almost a year later, he’s eager for a different personal outcome.
“Man, I feel great,” Farley said Saturday. “I think it’s funny how things work in the universe. So I’m excited for this opportunity.
“It’s a big challenge, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. I think they have elite receivers, an elite quarterback and they’ve been playing well together for a while now.”
The complete Titans-Bills injury report for Saturday:
Did not practice: CB Kristian Fulton (hamstring), RB Dontrell Hilliard (hamstring) and OL Jamarco Jones (elbow). Limited participation: OLB Ola Adeniyi (neck), wide receiver Kyle Philips (shoulder) and OL Dillon Radunz (neck). Full participation: G Nate Davis (knee), DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. (groin), C Ben Jones (not injury related) and T Taylor Lewan (knee).
Monday Status – Out: Fulton, Hilliard and Jones. Doubtful: none. Questionable: Philips.
Did not practice: DT Ed Oliver (ankle). Limited participation: WR Gabe Davis (ankle), WR Stefon Diggs (veteran rest) and DT Tim Settle (calf). Full participation: OL Tommy Doyle (foot), CB Dane Jackson (knee) and TE Quintin Morris (hamstring).
Monday Status – Out: Oliver. Doubtful: Settle. Questionable: Jackson and Davis.