Haynesworth, Vanden Bosch to miss final regular-season games

Updated: December 16, 2008, 11:27 AM ET
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If the Tennessee Titans are going to pressure Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning in their last two regular-season games, they're going to have to do it without their two top defensive linemen.

Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch are out until the playoffs, coach Jeff Fisher said at his Monday news conference.

Haynesworth suffered an MCL sprain of his left knee when his leg was pinned and rolled on late in Sunday's loss in Houston.

Vanden Bosch didn't play Sunday and missed three games and the bulk of two others earlier this season with a groin injury. He's having surgery to repair muscle that Fisher said was injured last week against the Cleveland Browns.

The Titans have already secured a first-round bye in the playoffs and Fisher said he expects both linemen, Pro Bowlers last season, to be ready for that divisional-round game on Jan. 10 or 11.

"I look at this as good news," Fisher said. "We'll have them both back, expected to have them both back for the playoffs. ... There's no doubt in our mind that he'll be back."

Fisher said Haynesworth's injury is oftentimes a 10-day to two-week recovery, "so there is no doubt in our mind that he'll be back." Vanden Bosch's specialist shared similar optimism, Fisher said.

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"We're going to get them ready to play in the playoffs," Fisher said.

Tennessee hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and then finishes the regular season in Indianapolis. The Titans have a one-game lead atop the AFC over the Steelers and with a win can lock up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage for the AFC Championship Game if they advance to it.

Haynesworth's injury means the Titans are down to two healthy defensive tackles in Tony Brown and Jason Jones and will need to add depth. Kevin Vickerson has two games remaining on a four-game suspension for a violation of the league's policy against steroids and performance enhancers.

The Titans have tackle Amon Gordon and end Charles Bennett on their practice squad. End Dave Ball can also help out with snaps at tackle.

"They were in the Pro Bowl last year. They're good players," Fisher said of Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch. "But we have played some games where we've been without them, and we've been OK."

Paul Kuharsky covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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