NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans tight end Delanie Walker can finally give a thumbs up when talking about returning to action.
Walker will make his preseason debut Friday night at Kansas City after missing the first two preseason games with an injured thumb. Walker needed 12 stitches to repair an injury earlier in camp.
He'll get a chance to play in a game with quarterback Marcus Mariota for the first time.
"You always want to get to the regular season, but it's good to practice and work the rust off, and I haven't gotten the opportunity to play with Marcus yet, so I am looking forward to that,'' Walker said. "Marcus is playing great.
"I'm looking forward to being out there with my teammates."
Walker, heading into his 10th NFL season, isn't quite 100 percent. He's been practicing with a small protective cast on the thumb area, and the device has forced him to catch the ball a little differently.
"You have to focus a little bit more on catching the ball -- that is the difficult part,'' said Walker, who had 63 catches for 890 yards and four touchdowns last season. "And I don't get to use my thumb as far as gripping the ball the way I want to, so it's a little difficult."
As for the pain, well, he's dealing with it.
"What is pain?,'' Walker said. "I think you kind of block it out when you are out there. I feel it a little bit, but it is not that serious."
If there's a silver lining to Walker missing the first two games, it's the fact that two younger tight ends – Chase Coffman and Phillip Supernaw – have gotten a chance to play more, and shine. Walker might also benefit from "fresh legs," too.
"Maybe on the back end a little bit that will help,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I know that we had talked about, coming into camp, making sure that we, for lack of a better term, had a pitch count on his reps in camp. This conveniently worked out that way. I think he's gotten enough work to stay engaged and he's worked through that. I think we feel very good about where he is right now."