The Tennessee Titans delivered some excellent news on Monday afternoon. Wide receiver A.J. Brown has been designated to return from injured reserve, opening up a likely possibility that he’ll play against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday.
The Titans badly need Brown back in their lineup. They can’t keep counting on the likes of Cody Hollister, Nick Westbrook and Chester Rogers as their top three receivers, especially with Derrick Henry still on the mend. Julio Jones is once again OUT with a hamstring injury (stop me if you’ve heard that before). Brown would provide a massive jolt of energy into Tennessee’s lackluster passing game upon his return. Brown has dealt with various injuries of his own throughout 2021. He’s appeared in 10 games for the Titans this season, registering 46 receptions for 615 yards and three touchdowns. We can’t stress how badly Tennessee needs him back on the field.
As noted in Jim Wyatt’s tweet, Tennessee also designated Chris Jackson to return. Jackson has been on IR since November 23 with a foot injury. Jackson has played in nine games, including three starts, this season. Jackson has tallied 31 tackles, two quarterback pressures, one tackle for loss and four passes defensed in 2021. He was playing some excellent football before going down with his injury.
As per the rules, the designation opens up a 21-day window for Brown and Jackson to practice with the team, and they will not count against the team’s 53-man roster until being officially activated from Injured Reserve. Brown suffered a chest injury in the team’s November 21st loss to the Houston Texans. Brown was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter, and has since missed the last three games. The new IR rules require players to miss a minimum of three games. Both Brown and Jackson have fulfilled that obligation.
The move doesn’t guarantee that Brown and/or Jackson will be active this Thursday, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction for both players. All signs point to Brown playing. It’s a similar path Bud Dupree took last week before playing against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Additionally, the Titans placed defensive back Elijah Molden on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list.
It almost certainly rules Molden OUT of Thursday’s game given the nature of a short week. Assuming Jackson is healthy enough to return, he would be expected to replace Molden as the team’s starting nickel corner. Jackson began his career as a slot cornerback, and has flashed some inside/outside versatility. We currently expect Greg Mabin and Buster Skrine to dominate snaps on the boundary opposite Kristian Fulton, with Jackson taking up Molden’s role. Jackson’s impending return would be well-timed given Molden’s stint on the Covid list.
Stay tuned to MCM for all updates and analysis.