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Front Page - Friday, October 15, 2021

Let’s not talk about injuries

Titans’ secrecy leads to suspicion of mishandling

Last week, there was some refreshing candor from the Tennessee Titans camp.

It came from outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who spoke to reporters for the first time since being sidelined by a knee injury.

Dupree, who tore his ACL in December when he was still a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was honest when he said that he came back too soon from the injury and has since had to idle himself to get fully healthy.

In the never-talk-about-injuries world of Mike Vrabel and the Titans, it was unusual to hear such honesty. It probably ruffled a few feathers, as well.

“Moving forward, I’ve got to just make sure I’m smart and prepared for everything. With me, it’s more so my mind being ahead of my body, and you’ve got to let this thing heal,” Dupree said in assessing his situation.

“I rushed it and let my pride get in the way. I should have waited a little longer, but I was just so eager to get out on the field with a new team and a new city and new fans and just trying to make my place with the players, and I bit myself in the butt. You’ve got to put your pride down and put your pride to the side and realize it was my choice to go on the field. It was my mistake.

“I’ve got to be as smart as I can, because it’s a long season, and I need to be on the field when it counts.”

The injuries issue is nothing new for the Titans. It often seems easier to get information out of China or North Korea than to find out about a Titans player’s injury. That approach and mindset, of course, comes from the New England Patriots, where both Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson cut their NFL teeth.

Vrabel was asked about Dupree’s injuries Friday. His response:

“You guys had an opportunity – I am not going to speak for Bud. I know he touched on the things he wanted to talk on yesterday. I have a great deal of respect for Bud, we communicate. I am not going to try and speak for him and what he was going through or how he handled it,” Vrabel answered.

Wide receiver Marcus Johnson made his return Sunday against the Jaguars after start the season on injured reserve with an “undisclosed” injury. It was a hamstring injury, Johnson said after the game.

And speaking of hamstrings, Julio Jones has now missed two games with a hamstring issue. It was against the Colts that Jones remained in uniform, but did not play the fourth quarter.

After the game, reporters wondered if Jones was injured or benched because of an issue with his blocking. Vrabel was somewhat vague, but finally did clear up the matter to say it was indeed an injury.

League rules require that the Titans declare players who are limited or missing from practice and what their injuries are. It also requires them to disclose players who are hurt in-game and their chances to return. Beyond that, don’t expect too much more.

But the injury situation can be a double-edged sword. In 2019, Titans kicker Ryan Succop began the year on injured reserve due to an offseason knee injury that did not heal and required another procedure. He returned after eight weeks, but it was easy to tell by his play that he was not fully recovered.

He hit just one of six field goals, and many of his kickoffs fell short of the end zone. He was finally put back on IR and released after the season. One league source claimed the Titans rushed Succop back before he was fully healthy.

Succop then signed with Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl last year. The Titans haven’t had a reliable kicker since.

Last week, the Titans had 23 players on their injury report.

But let’s not talk about that.

Terry McCormick publishes TitanInsider.com and appears 2-4 p.m. weekdays on the George Plaster Show on WNSR-AM 560/95.9 FM.