The first official injury reports for this Sunday’s Titans-Jaguars game were released today along with some comments from Mike Vrabel and Marcus Mariota after practice. Here is the good news and bad news.
Taylor Lewan returned to practice today as a limited participant, meaning he has reached at least Step 4 of the 5-Step return to play protocol for concussions. The final step is for him to be evaluated and cleared by team doctors and an independent neurological consultant and that could happen at any point now. There seems to be optimism that the Titans will have their two-time Pro Bowl left tackle on the field in Jacksonville.
The Titans might even get his counterpart on the right side Jack Conklin back this week. He was a limited participant today as well and Vrabel commented on his radio show Tuesday night that Conklin “could be available in some capacity” against the Jaguars. The counts as the most encouraging update yet on his excellent right tackle.
Getting Lewan and Conklin back for this game would be huge. The Titans will need all hands on deck on the road against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The big question, however, remains the health of Marcus Mariota. He practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday, splitting reps with Blaine Gabbert as he did at the end of last week. Unlike late last week, Mariota did throw during the portion of practice open to the media while sporting a special glove that had the middle and index finger cut out on his throwing hand to help with his grip. Reports seem to indicate that his throws were better than last week, but still struggled with throws further down field.
#Titans QB Marcus Mariota (elbow) during open portion of practice. Did not appear to be limited, but still hit/miss on throws beyond 10-15 yards — which had been the concern. pic.twitter.com/kyJ9jj5voO— Travis Haney (@travhaney) September 19, 2018
Mariota said that the trainers had compared the injury to his nerve to a guitar string being strummed and that the tingling in his ring and pinky fingers would subside as the nerve “settled down”. It remains to be seen if he can get to a point where the team feels comfortable with him as the starter by Sunday, but it does at least sound like he’s headed in the right direction.
The Titans could also be getting closer to getting safety Kendrick Lewis back from a foot injury as he was a limited participant for the first time since the injury occurred during the second preseason game. Lewis figures to be good veteran depth and a potential special teams contributor when he does return to the lineup.
One other bit of good news is the omission of Corey Davis from the injury report. He had been limited during the week with a “hamstring” for the last couple weeks, but must have been a full participant today. That could be related to the fact that the Titans only threw 22 passes on Sunday, including one that was a jet sweep to Taywan Taylor and one that came on special teams, but it could also mean that the hamstring business is finally behind us.
Don’t freak out, but Derrick Henry appeared on the injury report with a back injury today and was listed as a limited participant, though reports indicate that Henry seemed to be moving around just fine during the open part of practice. Similar to Corey Davis, this could simply be workload related after Henry was worked heavily against Houston and really had to grind for some tough yards. I wouldn’t panic about this though, I still expect to see No. 22 running over Jalen Ramsey on Sunday.
Dennis Kelly did not practice as he remains out with an illness that had him in the hospital late last week. He is home now, but there is a chance that he won’t be available for a second straight week. That could be an issue if Conklin isn’t ready either. I would assume that Kevin Pamphile would get the call at right tackle if that situation came to pass, but Tyler Marz performed admirably there last week while Pamphile was at left tackle so he could be an option as well.
Luke Stocker remains on the injury report as he was limited with a calf injury. He was limited during practice last week as well and then turned in an excellent performance against the Texans so I wouldn’t worry too much about this one.
Finally, David Fluellen did not practice with a groin injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for a few weeks. The Titans promoted Dalyn Dawkins from the practice squad to serve as their 3rd back in the meantime.
Jacksonville had four players miss practice with injuries and three limited participants:
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (core muscle) - did not practice
C Brandon Linder (knee) - did not practice
RB Brandon Wilds (illness) - did not practice
RB T.J. Yeldon (ankle) - did not practice
RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) - limited participant
RG A.J. Cann (triceps) - limited participant
RT Jermey Parnell (knee) - limited participant
Seferian-Jenkins, Parnell, and Linder all played with their injuries last week against New England so I would expect them all to be available again this week unless a setback occurs during the week (though Seferian-Jenkins did not get a “did not practice” designation last week so that’s new).
Fournette didn’t go last Sunday after sitting out of practice all week. His limited participation on Wednesday makes me think it’s pretty likely that he returns to the lineup this week. That would return Yeldon to a backup role, but it sounds like he may not be available anyway. Third down back Corey Grant would theoretically be the next man up if both can’t go, but my guess is we see a mix of Fournette and Grant for this game.
Cann being added to the report worsens the Jaguars offensive line injury woes. They lost starting left tackle Cam Robinson for the season with an ACL tear suffered on Sunday and now have 3 of their other 4 OL starters appearing on the injury report. My guess is that these guys all play, but if they’re less than 100% they may struggle with a Titans pass rush that just ate the Texans line for lunch last week.