Today was the day for Titans rookies, quarterbacks, and injured players to report to training camp and with that comes the first official injury designations of the 2019 season. The team announced today that defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, tight end Jonnu Smith, and kicker Ryan Succop would be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. First round pick Jeffery Simmons was placed on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list as expected as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in February.
Smith and Casey are both reportedly still recovering from the knee injuries that ended their 2018 seasons. Both injuries were reported as MCL sprains at the time they occurred, but with most sites reporting the high end of MCL recovery in the eight week range, seeing Casey and Smith on the PUP with those injuries eight months later is a bit of a surprise to me. It’s possible that the reported diagnosis was inaccurate or incomplete or this could just be the team being extra cautious with a couple players who are going to be expected to play large roles in 2019. I don’t think there is any cause for panic here, but it’s something to keep an eye on if it starts dragging into preseason.
Succop’s injury is more of a mystery. He was not on the injury report at the end of last season, but he has been sitting out OTAs and minicamp with a mystery injury. The team is not required to provide any additional details when putting players on the PUP so I wouldn’t expect to find out any time soon unless Mike Vrabel offers it up (unlikely) or an enterprising reporter susses it out. Austin Barnard will handle the kicking duties while Succop is out of practice.
Simmons getting put on the NFI list is no surprise. It is functionally the same as the PUP, but because the injury occurred before he was in the NFL, it gets recorded as a “non-football injury”. Simmons will almost certainly start the season on the regular season PUP list as well which would guarantee that he misses at least the first six games of the season. The Titans will not commit to a return timeline for Simmons, but I would expect the likely window for his debut to be between Week 8 and Week 12 if his recovery goes according to plan.
While we are on the topic of preseason versus regular season PUP, let’s outline what the differences between them are. This preseason PUP (and NFI) list — the lists that players were added to today — simply designates that the player is entering camp with an injury and they cannot practice until they are medically cleared and removed from the PUP list, but they can attend meetings and work out. Players can be removed from PUP or NFI at any point.
If a player finishes the preseason still on the PUP list, they can then be transferred to the regular season PUP list which means that the player cannot practice or play in games for the first six games of the season. After six weeks, the team has five weeks to activate the player off the PUP or they have to transfer them to Injured Reserve (IR). Players on the regular season PUP do not count against the team’s 53-man roster total.
The good news of the day is that Delanie Walker, Jack Conklin, Logan Ryan, and Adoree’ Jackson were all NOT listed on the PUP list which means they’ll be ready to go for the team’s first practice on Friday in some capacity.
That’s good news for all of those guys, but I think it’s especially good news for Jack Conklin. I would argue that he needs this training camp more than any other veteran player on the roster. Between missing all of OTAs, training camp, and preseason last year and a big chunk of OTAs this year, Conklin has had minimal practice reps in this offense and minimal live reps under offensive line coach Keith Carter. With a new right guard sliding in next to him, it’s absolutely critical that Conklin start to get a feel for the blocking scheme and build chemistry with his new neighbor. It’s very good news that he will get a chance to do just that starting on Friday.