NASHVILLE – Jeffery Simmons proved to be worth the wait – and he's just getting started.
Simmons, a first-round pick by the Titans in the 2019 NFL Draft, was a disruptive force from the get-go on Sunday. The big defensive lineman recorded four tackles, two tackles for a loss – and a quarterback sack – in the team's 23-20 win over the Chargers.
"I told him when he first came out to just have fun - don't think about it, let loose and have fun with it," Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said of Simmons, who was just added to the 53-man roster on Saturday. "I told him to let it rip, and he did his thing today. He had a hell of a game."
Simmons was part of a Titans defense that saved the day at the end.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder was on the field for the big play – when linebacker Wesley Woodyard knocked the ball out of Chargers running back Melvin Gordon's hands at the goalline and into the arms of Casey, who was in the end zone.
Simmons was doing his job.
"Defend every inch of grass," Simmons said. "I came off the ball, and my job was to knock my man back and I feel I did that. When I saw Jurrell with it, everyone was going wild, saying "Fumble! Fumble!"
He was also doing his job when he zeroed in on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, and sacked him.
"Football is football, man," Simmons said. "I am just going to keep on keeping going. It was a great opportunity to get on the field and play my first game. It was good to get a sack, and it's even greater to get this win."
Simmons did a heck of a job all day, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said.
"I felt him," Vrabel said of Simmons. "I think there was some push. I mean, it looked like a big dude that was going forward, was excited about playing football. It's a long journey for him. He's a great kid, a better person than he is football player. And we think he is going to be a great football player."
Simmons, the 19th overall pick of the draft out of Mississippi State, practiced all week. The big defensive lineman, 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. In making the move on Saturday, the team officially activated him from Reserve NFI status.
The Titans were happy to have him out there with them.
"I told him: This game is just like college. You played in the SEC and you were dominant there so just go out there and be dominant today," Woodyard said of Simmons. "He's a physical presence out there."
Moving forward, Simmons is looking forward to doing even more.
"I have a lot of work to do," Simmons said. "There were a couple of plays where I felt like I was a little too high with my technique, but I am going to keep working hard to get better.
"Overall, I'm just happy to get this win. I am going to take to coaching and get better from there."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 7 of the 2019 season at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donald Page)