Benching Moss The Best Option

Head coach Mike Tice has been evasive about whether Randy Moss, with his strained hamstring, will play or not. Tice should be evasive for strategy reasons, but Tice should have his mind made up to sit Moss.

It would appear that Mike Tice is facing a tough decision Sunday — continue Randy Moss' consecutive game streak when he claims to be OK or be a head coach and make a decision that might be unpopular with fans.

Knowing that the Tennessee Titans are desperate and willing to throw out whatever gadget plays, fake punts, onside kicks and blitz packages needed to save their season, Tice has been understandably cagey about his plans for Moss Sunday. On Wednesday, he announced publicly — knowing it would get back to Titans coaches — that Moss would be a "game-time decision." Tice has said Moss is making progress, but he has yet to say whether he will play or not.

When introductions are made prior to the game, if the words "From Marshall University, No. 84 Randy Moss!" are shouted out over the PA system, it is likely to draw a deafening roar from the Metrodome crowd. But it is unlikely Moss will play an integral role in the game-planning for the Titans. Yet, if Tice asks Moss if he's good to go, he will get an affirmative.

The bigger question becomes, is it worth playing Moss if he can make a "more than minor" injury worse? We at VU say no. The Vikings are on the verge of something big and, if letting Moss sit for a week or two will assure that things will be better when they go on the road to play the Colts and Packers, so be it.

Only Tice, Moss and the medical staff know for sure, but unless there is a complete assurance that he is not at risk, the best move is likely to let his consecutive-games streak end — for the good of the team in the long term, not the short term.

It's time for Tice to be the last word on this situation. He's not a player anymore. He's a coach. Just as he lied to coaches when he was hurt, it's time for him to back away from his playing days and make a decision that is the best for the 53-man roster, not the franchise player.

As much as hurts to say it, force Randy to sit. Let him take a game off instead of a play off. You'll be better off in the long run.

SATURDAY NOTES
* While the Titans are 2-4 overall, they're 2-1 on the road — which will undoubtedly be a rallying point for the team. The fact that they're 0-3 at home is more of an issue with season ticket holders.
* Are the Vikes prepared to be without Moss? It sure looks like it. VU has been told Kelly Campbell has been taken off kick return duties. Why? He's the No. 3 wide receiver.
* E.J. Henderson has been upgraded to probable for Sunday's game, which means that Dontarrious Thomas will return to outside linebacker Sunday and may take the nickel middle linebacker spot.
* Chris Claiborne was downgraded to doubtful, but, as VU reported earlier this week, he may as well be listed as "out" because he's not going to play Sunday.
* Although he's listed as questionable, Titans RB Chris Brown will play Sunday. Brown has been questioned for his lack of toughness by the Tennessee media, but it should be noted that he has improved the team's offense by hitting the hole faster than Eddie George did for the last three years. It's hard to complain when your lead back is averaging more than 100 yards a game. George was tough — he's never missed a game — but he isn't missed on the field, just off the field in the locker room.

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