The Titans front office and coaching staff are extremely tight-lipped about injuries, and specifically, recovery timetables, so don’t expect to hear anything anytime soon from the Titans about when or if Jeffery Simmons might be able to make his two-tone debut. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t make an educated guess based on some similar recent injuries.
Before we get to that, a quick disclaimer. All injuries and all bodies are different. Adrian Peterson returning nine months after a torn ACL and looking like he was never injured is not normal. Some guys take longer to come back than others and some guys struggle when they do return until they get about 18-24 months removed from the original injury. That’s part of why the Titans don’t talk about these timelines. They don’t want to put a firm timeline on a process that needs to be patient. As frustrating as that can be for fans, it’s the right way to handle things. Rushing guys back from injury is bad business, especially when you’re talking about a guy that you invested a first round pick in. Everything from this point forward will be projection so don’t take this as a firm timeline. This is just an educated guess as to when we could realistically have a chance to see him take the field.
With that out of the way let’s look at what we know. We know that Simmons tore his ACL on the weekend of February 9-10 during training for the combine. He’s already had surgery and should be a couple months into his rehab by now. Simmons shared his post-surgery MRI results with teams and received positive reviews so it seems that things are going well in his recovery to this point.
Mississippi State DT Jeffery Simmons, who gave teams a look at his ACL via MRI for the first time at Combine rechecks, was slated to head to the #Dolphins and then the #AZCardinals after his trip to Indy, source said. The reviews of his knee were positive.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 11, 2019
The best comp for Titans fans will be Jack Conklin. His ACL injury occurred on January 13th, 2018 and he returned to play on September 30th, 2018. If Simmons follows a similar timetable, the Titans might be able to realistically get him on the field sometime around Week 8 against the Buccaneers. However, the team could also decide to wait until after their Week 11 bye to play him in Week 12 against the Jaguars.
Looking at other recent ACL injuries, we saw Carson Wentz return in Week 3 of the 2018 season after tearing his ACL in December of 2017. Football Outsiders has done some pretty comprehensive studies of returns from these types of injuries and Simmons’ age should be help him. He’s just 21 years old and younger players tend to recover quicker and more completely from ACLs (and other injuries for that matter).
If the Titans bring Simmons back somewhere between Week 8 and Week 12, a schedule quirk could really play to their favor. The Titans play four of their six divisional games in the final six games of the season which means they could be adding a top five talent to their team right as they head into a crucial stretch of the season.
The other positive for a possible Simmons return is that, unlike Jack Conklin, Simmons plays a position where he can be eased back in. Tennessee could get him a few snaps in the defensive line rotation without immediately throwing him in as a full time starter.
So yes, we are going to have to wait to see him take the field, but there is a chance that he could still make an impact in 2019. If the Titans are still in contention for the division after their Week 11 bye, Simmons could become a central figure in the AFC South race.