Tennessee Titans starting left tackle Jaelyn Duncan was injured midway through Sunday’s defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. Duncan was replaced by Andre Dillard, who lost his starting job earlier this season. Regardless of Duncan’s health, the Titans should prepare rookie offensive tackle John Ojukwu to receive the start against the Houston Texans in Week 17.
Duncan was injured after playing 34 offensive snaps, which accounted for approximately 53.1% of all Titans offensive plays. He was replaced by the aforementioned Dillard, who played the other 46.9% of available offensive snaps. Duncan struggled mightily before his exit.
Pro Football Focus credited Duncan with allowing four pressures, one sack, two quarterback hits, and one hurry. The sixth-round rookie blocker out of Maryland earned a season-low pass blocking grade of 20.7 in limited action. It represented a continuation of struggles for Duncan, who’s now allowed 26 pressures in his last 3.5 games.
Dillard actually came in and performed admirably. Dillard pitched a shutout, not allowing a single pressure or hurry via 30 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus’ charting. But Dillard’s struggles have been well documented, and the out-of-contention Titans have little to gain by reinserting Dillard, who they’ll likely release in the offseason, into their starting lineup.
Ojukwu is a rookie undrafted free agent who was signed to Tennessee’s active 53-man roster last week. Ojukwu is an excellent athlete that earned praise from Mike Vrabel throughout the early portion of training camp. Ojukwu unfortunately suffered an injury that prevented him from competing for an initial 53-man roster spot, but has since been developing nicely on the practice squad. He’s impressed the staff enough to receive a late-season call up.
John Ojukwu was my favorite #Titans UDFA signing. Now on the 53-man roster, I'd love to see Ojukwu play some OT for the Titans down the stretch here.— Justin M (@JustinM_NFL) December 24, 2023
(@MathBomb) https://t.co/YACigONukc pic.twitter.com/HyWclRa7El
Ojukwu actually played 18 snaps against the Seahawks as an eligible sixth offensive linemen. The Titans were understandably unwilling to insert Ojukwu into the game unexpectedly in a starting role, but did trust him enough to execute assignments as an extra blocker. With a week to prepare for the Texans following an injury and lackluster showing by Duncan, Vrabel and offensive line coach Jason Houghtaling should give serious consideration to evaluating meaningful snaps for Ojukwu before the season reaches its conclusion.