NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans are testing football's cliché of next man up in a major way.
Three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan is out for the season with a torn ACL, and his replacement just went on injured reserve. The Titans have two more three-time Pro Bowlers on injured reserve in punter Brett Kern and linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, and cornerback Adoree' Jackson, an expected starter, has yet to play this season.
Offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, Tennessee's first-round draft pick, finally suited up for a game last weekend but has yet to play after two stints on the COVID-19 reserve list since the start of training camp.
Others may see only adversity, but coach Mike Vrabel talks about opportunity. The Titans have plenty of those available with 10 players on injured reserve as they prepare for their second showdown with the Indianapolis Colts within three weeks on Sunday. Both teams are 7-3 and sit atop the AFC South Division standings, although the Colts won the season's first meeting, 34-17 on Nov. 12 in Nashville.
"Some guys, that's the definition of a pro," Vrabel said. "They make the hard look easy. Everybody that's healthy and available that's practicing on the active roster or the practice squad knows their job is to be ready to play in a football game. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't. But that's their job."
And now linebacker Jayon Brown, Tennessee's leading tackler, is the latest Titan on injured reserve.
"You just hate to see it, especially someone like Jayon who comes in and works his tail off and does everything the right way," defensive lineman DaQuan Jones said Wednesday. "At the same time, it's the next man mentality, and whoever we put back there ... we're all confident they're going to get the job done."
Veteran offensive lineman David Quessenberry replaced Ty Sambrailo last weekend when Lewan's replacement got hurt late in the Titans' 30-24 overtime win over the host Baltimore Ravens. He's expected to get the first shot at left tackle.
He might be starting next to Aaron Brewer, who made his first NFL start when he filled in for injured left guard Rodger Saffold at Baltimore — where center Ben Jones played despite not practicing all week because of an injured knee. Brewer and Quessenberry had key blocks on Derrick Henry's winning 29-yard touchdown run.
"I just had to go out there and do my job," Henry said.
Outside linebacker Derick Roberson and safety Amani Hooker also made their first NFL starts. Hooker came up with six tackles and his team-best third interception of the season.
The Titans used veteran Will Compton to replace Brown. Other options include Daren Bates, Nick Dzubnar and David Long, who's been on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Tennessee is close to getting some players back thanks to the NFL allowing players to return after missing three games on injured reserve this season, a provision made amid the pandemic.
Jackson was activated Nov. 11 to the three-week window to practice for a return. The Titans and are confident enough Kern will be available Sunday that they waived punters Trevor Daniel and Ryan Allen, who was on the practice squad. Cornerbacks Tye Smith and Kristian Fulton — Tennessee's second-round pick out of LSU in April — also were moved to the practice window for possible activation off injured reserve.
Said special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman: "Obviously, when you get a really good football player a chance to be back at any point in time, it makes you feel good."
The Titans planned to take Thanksgiving off, having worked Tuesday instead this week.