We’ve recently thanked Jevon Kearse for the memories and wondered if we would be wishing happy trails to Kyle Vanden Bosch. Drexel discussed whether a free agent or rookie will be the replacement for Nick Harper. As Tom noted in his positional analysis of the centers, elder statesman Kevin Mawae is another Titan not expected to return for another season. Punter Craig Hentrich has just announced his retirement.
This team will be a lot younger in March. Consider it as attrition or as thinning the herd.
Adding to the youth movement will be the expected departure of veteran linebacker Keith Bulluck. I’ll look at what that means for the position group in my positional analysis of the outside linebackers but for the time being I wanted this article to focus on KB.
Before KBull blew out his knee, there was reason to believe he would be considered for retention. The man had slowed down a bit but he could still play. Could he have played another year? Yes, though not at the same level as he did previously. Two more years? Possibly.
There are some cold, hard facts in play here, none of which favors Bulluck. He’s about to become 33 years old and has an injury which normally takes two years to recover from.
ACL injuries are a tricky thing. Some players, such as David Givens, never recover. In his case, it was one of the worst knee injuries ever. Besides tearing his ACL, he also tore another ligament, though I don’t recall offhand if it was a MCL or PCL. With his luck, it was probably the MCL. Givens also broke his kneecap so it’s no wonder his attempted recovery was so difficult and ultimately unsuccessful.
On the other hand, Brandon Jones did the unexpected by picking up right where he left off the previous year. Quick, one-year recoveries like his are rare. We should also note that Jones was only 23 years old at the time.
Peter Sirmon’s ACL injury seems to be more typical. He never regained his quickness or mobility and as most Titans fans remember, his first season after the injury was not a good one. Sirmon was painfully, agonizingly slow. He was so slow it hurt just to watch him.
Remember the play in St. Louis when he recovered the lateral and was caught from behind 10 seconds and 20 yards later? (It took the Rams that long to catch him because they all thought the ball was dead.) Sirmon was a good player at one time but became so slow he had to be moved inside to Mike for his final season.
Is Bulluck’s injury similar to Sirmon’s? The Titans haven’t disclosed the nature or extent of KB’s injury so it’s impossible to predict if he’s able to play again and if so, how soon and how well.
A ten-year veteran, Bulluck has been the heart and soul of the Titans defense and has been its unquestioned leader since the great salary cap purge of 2005, when Samari Rolle and Kevin Carter left. Bulluck played seven straight seasons without missing a start and led the team in tackles six times in those seven years.
As much as I like Bulluck, I recognize the need to move on. Keith Bulluck may soon be gone but he will never be forgotten. I’d like to see the Titans put his likeness on the stadium along with Eddie, Bruce and Frank and put his name in the Ring of Honor with some of the all-time Titans and Oilers greats.
Most people have their favorite memories of players and there are two plays I’ll always remember KB for. First was his pick-six against the Cowboys on Christmas. The other was his scoop and score against the Colts after Tank Williams blind-sided Peyton Manning.
The game he’ll probably be best remembered for is his Monday night three-pick performance against the Saints. Just call him Mr. Monday Night Football.
What are your favorite memories of Keith?