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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Johnson: Loss of Bulluck hurts Titans

Thursday, December 24, 2009

(Photo)
Titan linebacker Keith Bulluck may have played his last game with Tennessee.
(T-G File Photo by Gary Johnson)
As the Tennessee Titans prepare for a huge game with the San Diego Chargers on Christmas night, a familiar face will be out of the lineup.

Linebacker Keith Bulluck will be lifting the Titans from the sidelines instead of the playing surface at LP Field.

Bulluck suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third quarter last Sunday against the Dolphins. He'll soon have surgery to repair a torn left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), followed by several months of rehab.

"Keith is one of the cornerstones of our defense," Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said. "He has been for so many years. I don't need to speak about the consecutive starts and the production. He's gone from the AFC Defensive Player of the Week to out for the remainder of the season. So, it's a blow but we'll plug people in and we'll go on."

The 10-year veteran's streak of 127 consecutive games played will come to an end and there's a great possibility that he's played his last game in a Titan uniform.

Bulluck becomes a free agent after this season and the Titans have a long track record of not re-signing veteran players -- Eddie George, Derrick Mason and Steve McNair and Albert Haynesworth, to name a few.

Bulluck has been my favorite Titan from the start. He plays the game like it should be played and never takes a down off.

His value to the team is much greater than the impressive stats he piles up every year on defense. He's a team leader both on and off the field and he isn't shy for good quotes either.

A first round pick out of Syracuse in 2000, he's the third-leading tackler in franchise history with 1,265 stops. His 19 interceptions are second in franchise history and he's also recorded 18 sacks.

Bulluck is the Titans' leading tackler this season with 118 to go along with three interceptions.

There's no doubt that he'll be missed the final two regular season games and the playoffs, if the Titans are that fortunate. If Tennessee doesn't re-sign him, he'll be missed for years to come.

Fisher has stated that he would like to see Bulluck retire as a Titan.

Bulluck tweeted on his Twitter account that "I ain't go'n out like this. My spirits r gr8."

It just remains to be seen if he returns to the Titans.

-- Gary Johnson is a Times-Gazette sports writer. He can be reached at gjohnson@t-g.com.

Gary Johnson
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