NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** It was an emotional return to the field on Saturday night for Titans linebacker Kevin Dodd.
Dodd, a second-round pick by the team in last year's draft, had been envisioning what playing again might feel like ever since he had a second procedure to repair a foot injury. During the past year he's questioned himself, while others doubted him.
When he walked on the field at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., before the team's game against the Jets, he got his answers.
"It's just football," Dodd said after the game. "But after coming out for warmups, it did feel a little emotional just to be back out there. It felt really special. When I first came out to warm up and get a feel of the stadium and the turf, I felt a little emotional. There were a lot of doubts in the offseason whether I would be where I am today."
Dodd played in 37 snaps, and he performed well.
The former Clemson star was around the football, and moved without any issues. He was credited with just one tackle, but he impacted a number of plays in the team's 7-3 loss to the Jets.
"It feels good to be back out there with my guys and not practicing and going up against someone else other than (teammate) Jack Conklin," Dodd said with a smile. "But it felt really good."
"We're still in camp, and I felt like we're still in camp. But by the time (the season) gets here, I'll be ready."
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said the team wanted to give Dodd a lot of playing time. Dodd played in just nine games last season, and he ended the year on Injured Reserve. He had a second surgery at the end of last year, which kept him out of the team's OTAs and minicamp during the offseason.
But he was back on the field for the start of training camp, and he was back on the field for the preseason opener.
"I'm sure it was (good for him)," Mularkey said. "Plus, his conditioning, he got a late start on conditioning. It's good to have the number of reps that he had. Nothing but good for him tonight to have all that experience and see where he's at conditioning wise."
The Tennessee Titans take on the New York Jets in the preseason opener for both teams on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 at MetLife Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones Photography, AP)