This week in Titans: injuries deflate defense, Willis' confidence, AFC honors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A tough blow for the Titans defense, safety Amani Hooker has been ruled out for Sunday with a shoulder injury.

And both Jeffery Simmons and Bud Dupree are listed are game time decisions after not practicing Friday. Simmons with an ankle injury and Dupree with an illness. The defense is going to have to play a big role against the Kansas City Chiefs which has one of the best offenses in the league.

How do you limit Patrick Mahomes when your defense itself is limited?

“We got to have a plan together and hopefully our guys can go out and execute,” said Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen. “And we got to we got to be able to execute with technique fundamentals, do all the little things, because if you get caught like it’s a big play, they’re going to make you pay for it. So we got to make sure we’re on our game, play in and play out.”

Ryan Tannehill was listed as questionable following a limited practice Friday. He stressed to the media this week that if he was not healthy enough to lead the Titans’ offense effectively, he would not play Sunday night.

That of course means another possible start for rookie Malik Willis, who went 6 of 10 for 55 yards and an interception in the Titans win over the Texans. His teammates and coaches understood that that was Willis’ first NFL start and mental hurdles that comes with that.

“All of us can get caught up in the stresses of the job and sometimes in the stresses of the moment,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said. “And one of the things that makes Malik such a special player is his ability to lift those around him and to play with joy. And his passion is contagious, you know? And I think that that’s something that’s going to serve him extremely well going forward in his career. And I just try to remind him he’s out there playing the game for a living, so it’s it’s going to be exciting to watch his development.”

Two players in the two-toned blue are AFC Players of the Month. Derrick Henry, of course, who comes at no surprise after his 200-yard performance versus the Texans and punter Ryan Stonehouse, who comes at no surprise to Derrick Henry.

“I know he’s going to be on there you know, he bumps the ball so well,” Henry said to the media Thursday. “No question. So I mean, there was no shock to me.”

“Being undrafted, I didn’t really have many options, especially since there wasn’t many positions like really open,” said Stonehouse. “But the Titans gave me an opportunity. I had a good relationship with with Craig [Aukerman] and with Chase [Blackburn]. And it was just it was a great fit for me to just feel like, hey, this is a place I feel like I can, you know, have an opportunity to compete.”

Stonehouse told WKRN he found out about the honor on social media Thursday morning. He averaged 51.7 yards per punt on his 20 punts last month. Special Teams Coordinator Craig Aukerman is pushing him to be better this month.

“He’s doing a great job for us,” Aukerman said. “I’m really proud of him the way he goes and prepares each and every week, but we’re telling him it’s what he does in November too. What is he going to do to improve? And and I know he will and we’re excited for him.”

Stonehouse said the Titans are a team that has really bought in into sharing success.

The Titans take on the Chiefs in Sunday Night Football, kick off is set for 7:20 p.m. CST.