It’s not a good time to be a Tennessee Titans wide receiver.
First, star wideout A.J. Brown missed most of the Titans 25-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday with a hamstring injury. He was later ruled week-to-week and its expected he’ll miss a game or two.
Then on Wednesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Julio Jones has been receiving treatment for a leg injury and his status for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets was “up in the air.”
Now, the position group that was considered too deep in training camp will have to rely on players like Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Chester Rogers, Racey McMath and potentially Marcus Johnson, who was designated to return from injured reserve on Wednesday, opening a 21-day window for the Tennessee to add him to the active roster.
“Not sure who’s going to end up trotting out there on Sunday, but I’m confident in whoever it is,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “I’ve had a ton of reps and confidence in those guys.
“…[Johnson] came into camp and just consistently got better as camp went on and continued to make plays. He showed up in critical points in camp and there were days when we were low on numbers at receiver, and he was out here practicing his tail off getting better and making plays. He’s a guy I had a ton of reps with and have confidence in.”
With back-to-back games against the Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars the next two weeks, the Titans could hold Brown out as a precaution in hopes to bring him back for a Monday Night Football clash with the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 18.
No. 3 receiver Josh Reynolds, who’s only played 11 offensive snaps through the first three games of the season, could potentially make a return this week. He’s been limited through camp and into the regular season with a lingering Achilles injury.
“Josh continues to work,” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said. “There’s a lot of guys there, and those decisions are always difficult trying to figure out where you’re going to need guys, who you’re going to need based on special teams and other positions. So, Josh continues to work hard, and we’ll see where everything is at the end of the week.”
The good news for Tennessee is there are options.
Rogers figures to have a larger role moving forward, at least for the next week. The 27-year-old was targeted 11 times in the first two weeks, registering six receptions for 84 yards, but his production tapered off against Indianapolis. He did record a touchdown grab but only had one other catch after that.
With Jones on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Colts, Westbrook-Ikhine was Tannehill’s go-to receiver. He finished with four receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown, and he played on 78 percent of the Titans offensive snaps. For comparison, he only played 38 and 18 percent in Weeks 1 and 2, receptively.
“[Westbrook-Ikhine] is a guy I have a lot of confidence in,” Tannehill said. “He’s been consistent. Going back to last year, he does the dirty work for us. He gets in and blocks, he’s physical, he’s tough and plays a lot of different positions. I think the last game he played all three receiver positions. He’s a versatile guy who’s got size, got strength and made some big plays for us in training camp.”
If Jones and Brown are both out, Westbrook-Ihkine is presumably the favorite to be Tennessee’s No. 1 wideout with some combination of Rogers, McMath, Cam Batson and potentially Johnson, who remains a question mark. Vrabel hinted it could be possible for him to play on Sunday, but he didn’t confirm either way what his status would be.
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