Titans draw favorable matchup to snap 2-game skid
The Tennessee Titans return from their bye week to face AFC South rival Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.
The Titans (8-4) have dropped two in a row but maintain a two-game lead in the loss column over second-place Indianapolis. Tennessee, which will play at home for three of its final five regular-season games, owns the tiebreaker advantage against the Colts by virtue of two head-to-head victories.
“We’re just getting started,” Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said Wednesday. “That’s how this thing goes, it’s how you play in December and January, and after Thanksgiving. Hopefully, we’re ready to go.”
The Titans beat the Jaguars 37-19 in the season’s first meeting at Jacksonville on Oct. 10, when Derrick Henry ran for three scores. Unfortunately for Tennessee, Henry will be sidelined for a fifth straight game due to a foot injury. There’s no telling when, or if, the star running back will return this season.
Henry is one of 18 Titans on injured reserve, with one other player on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Tennessee has used a league-high 86 players this season.
Receiver Julio Jones returns after missing the past three games with a hamstring injury that has limited him to six games this season. Safety Dane Cruikshank (knee) and receiver Racey McMath (quadriceps) also returned to practice this week from injured reserve.
“I’m excited to get Julio back,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “We’ll have to build on things we’ve done in the past. It’s been a while since we’ve thrown and caught together.”
Cornerback Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins (ankle) was among five Tennessee players who did not practice Wednesday. Tight end Tommy Hudson and defensive lineman Teair Tart also did not practice due to ankle issues.
The ground game should be a Titans strength on both sides of the ball. Tennessee ranks fifth (140.8) in the league in rushing and has allowed only 97.8 rushing yards per game (sixth).
The Jaguars have averaged 110.6 rushing yards (17th).
Jacksonville (2-10) suffered a fourth straight defeat with last week’s 37-7 loss at the Los Angeles Rams.
Rookie Trevor Lawrence has thrown more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (nine). He’s completing 58 percent for 2,514 yards, 21st in the league.
“Keep getting better,” Lawrence said Wednesday after being asked what his focus would be during the season’s final weeks. “I really just want to go play free, be me, go make plays.”
Jacksonville is ranked 25th (312.3) in total offense and 26th in passing (201.8).
Defensively, the Jaguars are ranked 23rd (365.1) overall, 21st (116.8) against the run and 19th (248.3) against the pass.
Linebacker Myles Jack (knee), center Brandon Linder (back) and rush end Josh Allen (shoulder) were among seven Jacksonville players who did not practice Wednesday.
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin, who returns this week after being sidelined with a concussion, said he hopes to help his worn-down team regain some fun and optimism.
“You got to make the best of the situation, and I think people are fading away from that,” Griffin said. “It’s OK man, we’re going through something but we’re going through it together.”
–Field Level Media