Injuries, Covid-19 now cutting into time for Titans' fine-tuning

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Ryan Tannehill and Julio Jones timing. Pass rush synchronization. Offensive line cohesion.

These are among the areas where the Titans have not been getting the work they need because of missed time from injuries.

They are now within two practice weeks of their Sept. 12 season opener against Arizona and those matters are still on hold.

Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Tannehill is on the Covid-19 reserve list. So is one of those pass rushers, Harold Landry, who needs to get things organized with his edge partner, Bud Dupree, a player not all the way back from his ACL repair. And the full offensive line of Taylor Lewan, Rodger Saffold, Ben Jones, Nate Davis and the to-be-named right tackle – Kendall Lamm, Ty Sambrailo or, possibly, Dillion Radunz – has barely been together, if at all, because of injuries, rehab and rest.

“No,” Mike Vrabel said when I asked if time’s running out on some of these needed developments.

But without timetables for return on key pieces, yes, yes, it’s running out. They will make the most of it, plugging guys in when they are ready. It's not going to be the same as having had a lot of time to synch people up.

Tannehill said Tuesday that he and Jones “would make it work if we had a game today.”

And they’ll make it work on Sept. 12 presuming Jones is healthy enough to play. But will it work as well as it could have had the two had more practice time together? Probably not.

“It is nice to see him on the practice field moving around a little bit,” Tannehill said Tuesday. “Obviously, we have been waiting for it and we are excited to get him out here whenever he is ready.

“There is a lot of work to do still with him, we have talked through a lot of looks, and seen on tape other guys take the reps and talk through the space and the timing. Now it is just a matter of getting out here and doing it in person and make that connection.”

But now Tannehill is out until he gets two negative tests in 48 hours to return. If he doesn't get those he'll be out for 10 days, after which he'd be judged not contagious.

And Thursday, after warming up, Jones was only running independently of the team.

Harold Landry, Tennessee TitansLandry has been working on moves other than his speed dip in practice, as position coach Ryan Crow took that away from him to prompt him to develop more alternatives.

Still, on the side, Landry said he’s worked the speed move because he doesn’t want to lose it from not using it.

Dupree has discussed the importance of him and Landry learning each other so that their paths to the quarterback from opposite sides make sense in combination.

“I think we are working on that right now, but I think that will match up nicely,” Landry said Monday. “Once we get him out there, we will be able to build more and more.”

Dupree has done very little work with the full defense but may be about ready to do more. Now Landry is in the Covid protocol.

On the offensive line, Lewan and Saffold have done enough together to build on the private language they speak and understand as they work together. Lewan missed all but the first five games of 2020 because he tore his right ACL. Still, the line provided good pass protection and blocked for Derrick Henry’s 2,027-yard rushing season.

With the Pro-Bowl left tackle back, the Titans feel very good about four-fifths of their offensive line knowing each other well and a fifth plugging in.

That gelling, too, has not been on the preferred pace. The team has taken its time returning Lewan to work, Saffold has had time off, Jones got hurt and missed a long stretch he’s just returned from this week, Nate Davis has missed a lot of injury time and right tackle has been a mix-and-match spot.

“You have to build every day,” said Kendall Lamm, who’d just back from an elbow injury. “This game is hard. It’s very hard out here. Every day brings a new challenge. …injuries are definitely something, don’t get me wrong. But everybody is shuffling non-stop, in my opinion, it’s a beautiful thing because you get used to other, various people.

“It’s not like you’re just getting locked down with one person. If (Jordan) Roos comes in and I have to talk to him, if Nate comes in, if Dillon comes in, when Paul (Adams) was here, I can go down the line, I get to talk to them all. So that builds a nice bond.”

apple icon 144x144 precomposedThings will narrow soon. The current 80 plus seven on the covid-reserve list will ultimately be 53 and a 16-man practice squad.

If Lamm is the right tackle, he’ll need to be intimately familiar with Davis, who will be the right guard unless something goes wrong.

The sky is not falling.

But the Titans need Covid to clear up, rehabs to finish up and their front-line guys to be available so these final things – timing, synchronization, cohesion – can happen.

They can downplay the importance of those things and the fact that the clock is starting to tick.

If they haven’t had time to happen by Sept. 12, however, they will be factors against the Cardinals.

You are not authorised to post comments.

Comments powered by CComment