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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Titans hope bye helped heal up key players for stretch run

Mon Nov 18 6:52pm ET
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Delanie Walker, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Corey Davis

Tennessee Titans tight end Anthony Firkser (86) and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (19) celebrate with wide receiver Adam Humphries, on the ground, after Humphries scored the winning touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans won 35-32. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)


Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel runs off the field after an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans won 35-32. (AP Photo/James Kenney)


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Titans believe their bye with the much-needed time off helped then heal for the final six games on the schedule.

How much remains to be seen. Coach Mike Vrabel didn't tip his hand Monday except to say he expected two of four Titans to test themselves when they practiced. But Tennessee doesn't have to share an injury report until Wednesday.

Tight end Delanie Walker and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey both think they're feeling good enough that there's a chance each might play Sunday when the Titans (5-5) host Jacksonville. Casey has missed the past two games with an injured shoulder, while Walker hasn't played since five snaps Oct. 20 against the Chargers.

''Been gone way too long,'' Casey said. ''Never in my life would I have I have thought I'd miss this many games in my career. But Lord got things up His sleeve. Just ready to get back out there.''

Walker talked to reporters while wearing a brace on his left knee to help him avoid aggravating the right ankle that has kept him out of the past two games. That's the same ankle he broke in the 2018 season opener. Walker said he wouldn't be wearing the brace in a game, and he likes how he's feeling right now. The test will be how he feels after practicing.

''Just by the things I've been doing, it feels good, so I think it's going in the right direction,'' Walker said. ''Again, I'm a tough guy, and I feel like at this point it's where I'm able to play. But again we just have to see.''

The Titans also played without linebacker Jayon Brown (groin) and wide receiver Corey Davis (hip) in their 35-32 win over Kansas City before their bye.

Tennessee is back at work with the AFC South bunched up, just a game out of first behind Indianapolis (6-4) and Houston (6-4) but just ahead of Jacksonville (4-6). Four of the final six outings are inside the division, including a trip to Indianapolis on Dec. 1. The Titans are playing the Texans twice in the final three weeks.

Vrabel calls it a great opportunity that's no different than the Kentucky Derby when a hole opens up for a horse to take advantage.

''Or in this case, the team will take advantage of the opportunity,'' Vrabel said. ''So, all we can focus on right now is Jacksonville. We didn't play the game how we wanted to play it last time down there, so we'll have to do a much better job this week of preparing to continue to give ourselves opportunities.''

The Titans lost 20-7 in Jacksonville on Sept. 19 as part of a 2-4 start that led to the benching of Marcus Mariota. They went into the bye having won three of four with Ryan Tannehill, and Vrabel said the coaches spent a lot of time with the players last week looking at where they can improve in areas ranging from fundamentals and penalties to third downs.

Now it's back to work after a bye week that came late in the season.

''Everybody's a little bit refreshed, and that's what we needed,'' Walker said.

Player Notes
O.J. Howard Mar 29 10:23pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard's 'eyes should light up' at the opportunity to play with QB Tom Brady, according to head coach Bruce Arians. 'You have a quarterback who throws to the tight end, go earn it and get balls thrown to you,' Arians said.

Fantasy Spin: Despite playing four more games than he did in 2018, Howard finished with fewer yards and just one touchdown last year. The drop in production wasn't a surprise given the fact that Arians' system typically isn't kind to tight ends, but the arrival of Brady could change that in a big way. Howard is definitely worth grabbing as a TE1, and there is a chance he finishes as a top-five fantasy option at the position.

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Ronald Jones II Mar 29 9:53pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Jones rebounded in 2019 after a dreadful rookie campaign, tallying 1,031 yards from scrimmage and catching 31 passes. He should still handle most of the work on early downs, but if Jones isn't on the field in passing situations, it is going to limit his ceiling, especially with Tom Brady now under center. He's best viewed as a flex option for the time being.

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Blake Bell Mar 29 9:23pm ET

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Josh Allen Mar 29 7:13pm ET

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Baker Mayfield Mar 29 7:03pm ET

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Kirk Cousins Mar 29 7:03pm ET

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Lamar Jackson Mar 29 6:33pm ET

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Patrick Mahomes Mar 29 6:33pm ET

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Ryan Fitzpatrick Mar 29 6:33pm ET

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Dalvin Cook Mar 29 5:43pm ET

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Courtland Sutton Mar 29 5:43pm ET

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Julian Edelman Mar 29 5:23pm ET

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Le'Veon Bell Mar 29 5:23pm ET

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Leonard Fournette Mar 29 5:13pm ET

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Raheem Mostert Mar 29 4:53pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RBs Raheem Mostert (3.5) and Matt Breida (3.3) ranked first and second, respectively, in the league among running backs in average yards before contact per attempt last season.

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Aaron Rodgers Mar 29 4:43pm ET

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Tom Brady Mar 29 4:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady was charged with 116 'bad throws' in 2019, six fewer than league leader Jameis Winston - his predecessor in Tampa Bay.

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Jimmy Garoppolo Mar 29 4:33pm ET

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Dak Prescott Mar 29 4:23pm ET

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott was on the wrong end of an NFL-high 36 drops last season.

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