NASHVILLE – Titans coach Mike Vrabel held a press conference on Friday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team’s 19-15 preseason win over the Bears.
The Titans will face the Cleveland Browns on September 8 in the regular season opener. But first, the team must trim its roster to 53 players.
Here’s a look at some of the hot topics:
Jeffery Simmons Progress
When the Titans drafted defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons with the 19th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the team knew it would have to be patient.
Simmons was recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in February. He began training camp on the team’s Non-Football Injury List.
As the Titans trim their roster to 53 players, they’ll also have to make a decision on Simmons, who will either be placed Reserve/NFI or on the team’s 53-man roster.
If Simmons ends up on the Reserve list, he wouldn’t be allowed to practice with the team the first six weeks of the season, and his work would be limited to conditioning. If the Titans kept Simmons on the 53-man roster, he’d be eligible to practice – and perhaps play – sooner than expected.
“I would say that his progression and his recovery has been really, really good,” Vrabel said of Simmons. “I don’t want to rule anything out right now, but I would say that (his recovery) is far, far more along than what the average player would be. He’s further along.”
The Titans must trim their roster to 53 players by Saturday at 3 p.m. CT, and the process has already started.
Vrabel said the Titans began notifying players on Friday morning of their fate.
“It is an emotional time for those guys that competed a lot of weeks and a lot of months there for us,” Vrabel said.
Vrabel said GM Jon Robinson handles the process, and he sits in on the meetings “to represent the coaching staff the best that I can.”
Kevin Pamphile appears to be the guy at right guard for the Titans, although Vrabel wouldn’t 100 percent commit to that on Friday.
“I think we are probably kind of settled in,” Vrabel said. “But that’s always something that could be looked at over the weekend. … As it stood today, (Pamphile) is where we were, but we’ve practiced some different rotations. We’ve done that in the past couple of days and we’ll do that here next week, knowing the lineup you start with probably won’t be the one you end up with in the season.”
Pamphile started the first three preseason games for the Titans.
“There’s versatility there,” Vrabel said of Pamphile. “He’s good in pass protection. … We have made any decisions that are final (though) before we all go and run with that. We are always going to be making sure we are doing what’s best for the team and that’s where we left the last preseason game. A lot of things can change.”
The Titans acquired former Packers linebacker Reggie Gilbert in a trade on Thursday, and Vrabel indicated things looked positive when asked if Gilbert had passed his physical.
“As of this morning,” Vrabel said. “He’s seen out doctors, but before I commit to anything I want to make sure that everyone is comfortable. I had a chance to meet him, talk to him. He is excited to be here, and … we’ll get him going as soon as we can.”
In 2018, Gilbert (6-3, 261) played in all 16 games for the first time in his career and recorded 44 tackles (36 solo), six tackles for a loss, 2½ sacks, a fumble recovery, four quarterback hits, 15 QB pressures (No. 2 on the team) and two passes defensed while adding two tackles on special teams.
“He’s an edge guy with some length,” Vrabel said of Gilbert. “Those defensive ends on college that transfer to outside linebacker has kind of been our model.”
Vrabel said the Titans “are probably as healthy as we’ve been” since the start of training camp.
Vrabel was asked about the status of linebacker Harold Landry and guard Nate Davis, who’ve been sidelined with injuries. Vrabel said he expected both players to be available for on-field work on Friday.
Defensive back Joshua Kalu, who missed Thursday’s game, is still being evaluated, Vrabel said.