NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans center Ben Jones began a pregame ritual of walking barefoot on the field back when he was in high school.
He's not about to let some chilly temperatures in Kansas City on Sunday stop him.
"Heck yeah I'm doing it,'' Jones said with a smile. "I've done it for this long, so I can't stop now."
Jones will be tested when he strolls on the field at Arrowhead Stadium several hours before Sunday's Titans-Chiefs game. The early morning temperature is expected to dip to around zero, and the forecast calls for single digits in pregame, and at kickoff at noon.
That's far colder than anything Jones, who's from Brent, Alabama, has ever experienced in his bare feet before. Did I mention it's supposed to snow 3-to-5 inches on Saturday in Kansas City?
Jones, who joined the Titans as a free agent this offseason after playing previously with the Texans, began the routine with his brother in high school "to get a feel for the turf" and after enjoying success that night, it continued in college at the University of Georgia and into the NFL. He usually stays outside for 10-15 minutes in pregame before heading back into the locker room. He returns later in full uniform -- and cleats -- for warmups.
"It was snowing and in the 20s once in Cleveland,'' Jones recalled. "And my feet got cold that day."
Earlier this season, rookie Jack Conklin decided to join Jones on his barefoot strolls.
"And I just kept it going,'' said Conklin, who went to Michigan State. "I have been around a lot more cold than he has. If Ben can stick it out, I'll be fine. I'm on board."
Together, the two Titans have tested the turf – and dirt – in their bare feet in warm weather climates like Miami and San Diego, as well as climate controlled stadiums in Indianapolis and Detroit.
It was a little chilly in Chicago – 40 at kickoff – but Jones knows that won't be anything like what his toes will experience in Kansas City.
Conklin said on Thursday he's in. Tackle Taylor Lewan took part in some pregame strolls without footwear earlier this season, but when asked about it on Wednesday, he said those barefoot walks were "by accident" and said there's "no way" he's doing it this week.
"It was cold in Chicago, I'm not going to lie,'' Jones said. "The ground was really wet, so it was cold.
"It's going to be cold on Sunday, I know,'' Jones said. "I'm sure my feet will go numb. I'll just stick them in the hot tub when I go back in."
So, does he worry about frostbite?
"Nah,'' he said. "My hands don't get frostbit, so I'll be fine."