Even though the Tennessee Titans will end their season in unfamiliar fashion on Sunday - missing the playoffs for only the second time in six years - players insist there is plenty to play for when the Lions visit the Coliseum for a noon (CT) kickoff.
The Tennessee Titans faced numerous key injuries during 2004, a major factor in their record, but players say they'll keep fighting like they have over the last several weeks, seeking a win to close out the season on a positive note.
"I'm proud of the effort this team gives," defensive lineman Kevin Carter said. "They don't give up and they just keep fighting. We have got to end this season on a win. Our fans here are wonderful and they stand by us no matter what. They deserve it more than anything."
With a 1-6 home record in 2004, the Tennessee Titans hope to give their fans something to cheer about on Sunday. They believe a victory would give fans hope going into the off-season.
"It means a lot to the guys and staff that will be here next year," safety Scott McGarrahan said. "Guys are going to go out there and play hard and do what they can to make plays. We are professionals and we will do what we can to win the ballgame."
The coaching staff is preparing for the final home game like they have every week, with full intensity and an expectation to win. All the while, they'll be evaluating each and every player on the Tennessee Titans as off-season changes likely loom.
"They are going to be expected to do the right things this week and throughout the ballgame," said head coach Jeff Fisher. "They get a long time to recover, so I expect a better performance out of this club before we move into this off-season."
Injuries have forced several Tennessee Titans to spend more time on the sidelines than in actual games in 2004. Some hope to get one last chance to prove a point before season's end.
"I haven't even played 50 percent of the season, so I have a lot of improvement that I have missed out on, a lot of plays that I have missed out on," said tight end Erron Kinney, who missed the early part of the season with a strained calf. "For me, it's very important to try and get out there and be productive, just so I have something to build on going into the off-season."
Because of all the injuries many rookies stepped in to play more than initially expected. All of the first year players on the Tennessee Titans want to finish strong to cap their rookie year.
"I haven't fallen into the rookie slump," tight end Ben Troupe said. "Especially with the injury situation, I try to be the energy guy when I go on the field and that is what I'm going to do this week."
Finally, some players may not be wearing a Tennessee Titans jersey next season and want to leave Nashville with a good game. In order to do that, they must focus on their season finale.
"I know I have one more game for sure here and after that whatever happens, happens," said cornerback Andre Dyson, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in March. "I'm not going to get caught up in what could happen, I'll worry about that when this game is over."
Regardless, each game provides another opportunity to prepare for what lies ahead.
"Everybody in this locker room has a bad taste in their mouth, but one thing that does is build character," Kinney said. "The character of the Tennessee Titans is being built. If we can continue to correct mistakes, we have a chance to be much better next year. There is a lot of room to improve each game and we have the opportunity to learn how to get better and we can go into next year a little better."