Air McNair Grounded

The Bears chances for a third consecutive victory could hinge on whether or not Steve McNair is able to suit up Sunday.

The debate has less and less intensity or mystery. McNair is still hurting with his bruised sternum, and where there was once little doubt he would play anyway, the presumption now is that he will sit Sunday when the Titans host Chicago.

McNair has really only seemed himself in one of the Titans' eight games this season as ankle and sternum problems have hindered him, as have the options in the Titans passing game, who struggle to break free deep and are unreliable with drops and bad routes.

As he has virtually ever year, McNair was in Nashville during the team's bye week break so as to receive treatment.

On Monday, Jeff Fisher was encouraging when he said the Titans expected McNair to practice with the team two days later.

But on Wednesday, McNair was limited to some throwing before full team periods began.

"Steve was better," Fisher said. "He is sore still. He is nowhere close to playing right now, but he ran around a little bit. He threw, he threw some one-on-one and threw some seven-on-seven. So, it is encouraging."

After that practice, McNair's tone suggested he won't be playing this week.

"It's not any better than it was last week," McNair said. "... The key thing (is) knowing I can't take a hit. Certain movements I do right now still hurts and it is still sore. Right now I am just trying to fight through the pain."

He's even reduced his stretching regimen because of the soreness.

Come decision-time, he said he will have a lot to consider.

"If I don't have any pain movement-wise as far as throwing running and breathing, I just have to take a chance (and play), but knowing that if I take the right hit it is going to set me back a few weeks," McNair said. "(The Bears) are very physical and I have been watching film the last two days and they are going to blitz and they are going to come at you. If I am not right physically and mentally, Billy can handle it. I want to see how well I can progress through Sunday."

Tennessee has been far less reluctant this season to rest McNair and go with Billy Volek, who played well enough to win in a loss at San Diego (39-58 for 278 yards and two TDs), terribly in relief of McNair in Minnesota (three picks, no TDs) and fine in a Halloween win over Cincinnati.

He'll take the bulk of the practice work as long as McNair can't.

Meanwhile, McNair is itching to feel well enough to get back to work.

"I am very anxious, especially the first half of the season we've had and personally the way I started out the season not playing as well as I was hoping to," McNair said. "I am very anxious to get back out there and get back on track and get this team on a roll again."

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