NASHVILLE – When the Titans drafted defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in the first round of April's NFL Draft, some wondered if he'd play at all in 2019.
Well, this week he'll practice with his teammates for the first time with hopes of playing in the near future, possibly as early as Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.
"I am excited to get out there and play football again," Simmons said on Monday. "I am ready. I feel ready, my body is feeling good, my knee is feeling good – that's the main thing. So right now I just want to get out there, see how comfortable I am with it and go from there."
Simmons, the 19th overall pick of the NFL Draft, suffered a torn ACL during a workout in February. After he was picked, the Titans said they'd let the big defensive lineman rehab with the team and chart his progress.
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. When the Titans feel Simmons is ready, they'll need to move him to the 53-man roster while making a corresponding move.
"We anticipate him practicing and we'll make a smart decision as always in the best interest of the player when it deals with injuries and his comfort level and when he might return," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Simmons.
Simmons said he's anxious to see how his knee responds, and he senses his teammates are looking forward to it as well.
"I can hear the excitement from all the guys," Simmons said. "They are happy that I am (going to be) on the field."
Simmons was a beast at Mississippi State, racking up 163 tackles, seven sacks, 32.5 tackles for a loss and four forced fumbles in three seasons. He began the offseason as a potential top-10 pick.
Simmons traveled with the team to Denver and watched the game from the sideline.
He credited his faith in God for helping him recover faster than many expected.
"This process has been more mental than anything," Simmons said. "The fire in me, knowing that I wanted to be out there, it was hard for me to just watch. Now that time is here I am just excited to get on the field and practice.
"I feel like we have one of the best defenses right now, and I feel like I can come in, whatever position that might be, and bring a little extra force to the defensive line and get more pressure on the quarterback."
New Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons is introduced to reporters in Nashville. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Tennessee Titans select Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in the first round (19th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. (Photos: AP, Mississippi State)