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NASHVILLE – Much attention has been paid – and rightfully so – to the Tennessee Titans’ injury issues this season. Through 12 games, the Titans have had more starters (49) than any other NFL team and have set a league record with 85 different players used.

Overlooked are those who actually have been in uniform each week as Tennessee has gone 8-4, built a commanding lead in the AFC South and positioned themselves to battle for conference’s top seed in the playoffs.

There are seven who have started every game and six others who have made it on to the field each week. That is exactly one-quarter of the 53-man roster from Week 1 and – not surprisingly – fewer than any of the other 31 franchises.

With this week’s open date in the schedule, even those players now get a break. But their achievement, so to speak, should not go unrecognized.

So, here they are, the Tennessee Titans’ Dirty (Baker’s) Dozen:


Kevin Byard, FS: He is tied for third in the NFL with five interceptions and has generated some chatter as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. At the very least, he should earn his second Pro Bowl invitation. He is on pace to finish with at least 90 tackles for the fourth straight year and has a chance to lead the team in tackles for the second straight season.

Ben Jones, C: Always one of the Titans’ most durable players, he has been on the field for every offensive snap eight times and has played more than 80 percent of the snaps in all 12. He has missed one game in a career that started in 2012, so his inclusion on this list is no surprise.

Harold Landry, OLB: He is one of nine NFL players with at least 10 sacks this season and is well on his way to leading the team in that regard for the third consecutive season. He already has set career-highs for sacks, quarterback pressures (41) and tackles for loss (12). He has played every defensive snap in three games and 90 percent or more in four others.

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David Quessenberry, RT: A first-time starter at 31 years old, he seems to be determined to make the most of the opportunity. No one has played more snaps on offense (839 out of a possible 840) or more snaps overall (he has been on the field for 56 special teams plays). He is not an overpowering presence at the end of the line, but he has been there the whole way.

Rodger Saffold, LG: There have been several times this season when it seemed Saffold would join the ranks of those who missed a game or more. He has been on the injury report with a concussion as well as shoulder and back issues. Nonetheless, he has started every game. Three times in the first five weeks, he played fewer than 60 percent of the snaps, but he has been much more of a constant since.

Jeffery Simmons, DT: It has been a breakout year for the 2019 first-round draft pick. He leads all NFL defensive tackles with seven and a half sacks and 10 tackles for loss, is tied for first with four passes defensed, is second with 14 quarterback hits and fourth with 45 tackles. Overall, his numbers compare favorably to Aaron Donald, who has been the Defensive Player of the Year three times in the last four seasons.

Ryan Tannehill, QB: His third year as the Titans’ starter has been something of a mixed bag. He has directed three game-winning drives (only three quarterbacks have more) and is tied for second among all quarterbacks with five rushing touchdowns. However, his 13 interceptions already equal the second-highest total of his career, his passer rating of 86.1 is on pace to be his worst since 2013 and he has been sacked 31 times, seven more than all last season.


Denico Autry, DL: He has been a starter since Week 3 and has become the standout performer among this season’s free-agent additions. His numbers (19 tackles, five tackles, six tackles for loss, five passes defensed) don’t tell the full story of his contributions. His versatility has been invaluable, and his consistency has helped Landry and Simmons accomplish what they have thus far.

Morgan Cox, LS: A four-time Pro Bowler with Baltimore, he took over as long-snapper this season and no one has talked about him, which is always important at that position. He successfully has delivered the ball on punts and placekicks even as multiple players have filled those roles.

Nick Dzubnar, ILB: His primary job is on special teams, and for the second straight year he has been a standout in that regard. He currently is tied for the team lead with nine special teams tackles and has logged more time on kicks and punts (278 snaps) than anyone else on the roster. Injury issues have forced him into occasional action on defense, where he has played 32 snaps, already the second-highest total of his career.

Matthias Farley, S: Three different players have started at safety opposite Byard, and Farley is not one of them. He is second only to Dzubnar in special teams snaps with 270 and has made eight tackles on kicks, tied for his career-high. In 48 snaps on defense, he has made three tackles.

Elijah Molden, CB: He is the one member of this year’s draft class who has been consistently productive. He struggled early in the year and briefly fell down the depth chart (he only played on special teams in Week 4 against the New York Jets). Currently, though, he is tied for seventh on the team with 44 tackles and is the only Titans player other than Byard with at least one interception and one forced fumble.

MyCole Pruitt, TE: He is second among Titans tight ends in snaps plays and the numbers are not overwhelming, but he already has set career-highs with 11 receptions, 129 receiving yards and three touchdown catches. His touchdown catches tie him with A.J. Brown and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine for the team lead and are many as several other notable tight ends around the league have caught, among them are George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Jared Cook.