NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin on Injured Reserve earlier this week, ending his 2018 season.
It opened the door for veteran Dennis Kelly to replace him in the starting lineup, starting with Sunday's game against the Giants.
The opportunity is nothing new for Kelly, who has been a valuable player for the Titans since arriving via a trade with the Eagles in 2016. Kelly started against the Dolphins in place of Conklin in Week One, and he also started against the Patriots. He's played in 40 games – with nine starts – since 2016 in Tennessee.
"I just have to prepare like I always do," Kelly said on Thursday. "I take a lot of pride (in stepping in) – that is my job, and that is my role on the team right now. I'd be disappointed in myself if I wasn't able to. … I've started before and I've also come off the bench. I've had to play in a bunch of situations so I've kind of been thrown everything."
Kelly said he's good from a health standpoint after being sidelined for a stretch earlier in the season.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the Titans are fortunate to have a veteran in Kelly, who's in his seventh NFL season. Kelly was back at practice on Thursday after missing on Wednesday for personal reasons.
"Dennis has played a lot of football here," Vrabel said. "He's played some good football for us. We're glad to have him back, got him some work and we'll keep progressing with him towards the game."
Titans offensive line coach Keith Carter raved about Kelly this week.
"To me, Dennis is the ultimate pro," Carter said. "He is ready at all times, and he has a calm, collective demeanor. I remember the Dallas game, when Jack got the concussion, and I look at (Dennis) and he just winks at me. He's ready to roll."
Taywan Taylor's Impact
Titans receiver Taywan Taylor has made a big impact in the team's past two games after being sidelined three games with a foot injury.
Taylor had three catches for 104 yards in a win over the Jets, and followed it up with a six-catch, 59-yard performance against the Jaguars.
Taylor said the extra time since the team's December 6 game against the Jaguars has helped him recover further from his injury, and he's ready for the stretch run.
"I just want to make sure I am ready when my number is called, and get myself ready every week," Taylor said. "The extra days has everybody feeling good, and now we just have to build on things and stay on track."
Receiver Tajae Sharpe (ankle), linebacker Brian Orakpo (elbow), and running back David Fluellen (knee), tight end Cole Wick (shoulder) and safety Joshua Kalu (hamstring) did not practice on Thursday for the Titans.
Safety Dane Cruikshank (knee) and tackle Taylor Lewan (shoulder) were full participants after practicing on a limited basis on Wednesday.
The Tennessee Titans take the field for practice on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)