NASHVILLE – Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the team is hoping to get a “spark” with a new starting quarterback.
Well, it looks like the team has already found one this week in the practice field debut of first-round pick Jeffery Simmons.
Just the mention of the rookie defensive lineman’s name drew smiles from a pair of veterans on Thursday.
“I wasn’t out there yesterday when he first came out, but I was peeking through the windows and checked him out a little bit,” a smiling Casey said of Simmons. “He’s looking good so far. … Just to have a guy like that out there with us, with my guy DaQuan (Jones), to have another guy like that in the rotation, imagine how our game could be even better.
“To have a guy come in and party beside us, we can’t wait to see it happen.”
Simmons, the 19th overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, practiced for the first time on Wednesday, and he was out on the practice field again on Thursday, too.
Veteran linebacker Cameron Wake razzed Simmons as he headed out the door, his jersey pulled up to expose this midsection.
“Little baby Jeff,” Wake yelled in the direction of Simmons. “Tell him to pull his shirt down, though. Start there – that’s step one.
“We’re going to see what he can do now. We’ve been seeing him around the locker room, he has his belly out. I want to see what he can do when he gets on the field. It will be interesting to see.”
Simmons, who suffered a torn ACL during a workout in February, spent the first six weeks of the season rehabbing the injury. It's dominated his life as a Titan since being drafted.
Simmons began the season on the team’s Non-Football Injury list. NFI rules allow players to begin practicing with the team after Week 6. When the Titans feel Simmons is ready, they’ll need to move him to the 53-man roster while making a corresponding move.
There’s a chance that could happen later in the week, which would allow him to play as early as this Sunday. There's also the possibility the team could wait a little longer to give Simmons more time.
Simmons, outfitted with a dark visor on his facemask, has looked good in drills, according to his teammates and head coach.
Simmons said he feels good as well.
“I am out there moving around – I feel great,” Simmons said. “I’m not thinking about the injury, so that made me just go. Overall, I feel really good.”
Vrabel said Simmons is heading in the right direction.
A decision on his status for Sunday will come later in the week.
“I think that (Wednesday) was good,” Vrabel said. “I think it was a big step, the next step for him having been out just to get around some bodies, some other players. I think that regardless of his productivity, or however you look at practice, I just think that it was good that he was able to get out there and move around. I think he’ll be kind of on the same path today, we’ll see where that goes. I think he’s excited about continuing to see if he can work his way back into helping us sometime here in the near future.”