[UPDATE 2:20 PM] - The Titans have ruled Jurrell Casey (shoulder) and Delanie Walker (ankle) out for Sunday’s game against the Panthers in addition to Ben Jones (concussion). Special teams ace Chris Milton is officially listed as questionable.
[UPDATE 1:45 PM] - Jamil Douglas will get the start at center over Hroniss Grasu.
The Titans held their final full practice leading up to their matchup against the Panthers on Sunday and we are starting to get some injury news. The biggest takeaways are on the offensive line, where Ben Jones will miss a start for the first time since he signed with the Titans in 2016.
Mike Vrabel says Ben Jones is out this week. https://t.co/unGIxbLsdn— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) November 1, 2019
Jones had the second longest starting streak among all NFL offensive linemen at 88 games behind Mitchell Schwartz’s 120 streak for the Chiefs. It’s unclear whether his replacement will be Jamil Douglas, who filled in for him against Tampa when he briefly left the game last week, or Hroniss Grasu, who was signed back to the 53-man roster earlier this week.
Douglas has been working as the team’s top interior backup since Nate Davis took over the starting job at right guard in Week 5, but he’s not a “true” center. He worked occasionally at center during preseason action, but primarily functioned as a guard. Grasu is strictly a center, but hasn’t had a snap of live action this season. I’ll be interested to see who gets the nod on Sunday.
The good news is that left guard Rodger Saffold has exited the concussion protocol and should be good to go against Carolina.
Vrabel says Rodger Saffold is out of concussion protocol. #Titans— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) November 1, 2019
Saffold has settled down in recent weeks after a disastrous start to his Titans career early in the season. Hopefully Saffold’s second half of the season mirrors Malcolm Butler’s fantastic close to 2018 and we can all look back on his start as nothing more than a guy pressing with a new contract to live up to. Either way, it’s a good thing to have him back next to Taylor Lewan.
The official injury report has not come out yet, but two other names to watch for the Titans are Delanie Walker and Jurrell Casey. Walker missed last week and barely played against the Chargers with an ankle injury and he has yet to practice this week. I would expect the Jonnu Smith Show to continue, which might not necessarily be a bad thing.
Casey injured his shoulder making the key 4th down stop against the Bucs towards the end of the game, and like Walker, he hasn’t practiced all week. In years past, missing Casey would have been a devastating blow to this team, but with Jeffery Simmons and DaQuan Jones both playing at a high level and Isaiah Mack and Austin Johnson available to provide depth, I think the Titans can still get high level play out of the interior defensive line group without Casey if he doesn’t go. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll absolutely be missed, but Simmons and Jones together is still a formidable duo.
The rest of the Titans appear to be trending towards playing, including Sharif Finch and Adoree’ Jackson, who were missing last week. Special teams ace Chris Milton might have a chance to return to action as well. We should get confirmation of statuses for all these guys in the next few hours and we will update here once we do.
The Panthers have officially ruled out tackle Greg Little and quarterback Cam Newton for this game. Kyle Allen will get his sixth straight start behind center. He’s averaging just 6.7 yards per attempt with 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions to this point. Allen has done a good job of not destroying his team, but he’s far more game manager than playmaker.
Carolina also has three players listed as questionable: EDGE Mario Addison (not injury related), WR Curtis Samuel (shoulder), and EDGE Christian Miller (ankle). Addison’s brother passed away and the team is leaving it up to him whether he plays or not on Sunday. He leads the Panthers in sacks with 6.5 on the season. Samuel is tied with Christian McCaffrey for the team lead in receiving yards behind D.J. Moore with 343 yards.