NASHVILLE – The last time Titans fans saw punter Ryan Stonehouse he was being helped off the field at Nissan Stadium with a season-ending injury.
The next few days were rough.
"You feel sorry for yourself for a day," Stonehouse said on Monday. "Because your whole life has changed from doing one thing to totally doing something opposite. I think you maybe sit in it for two days. The first day you are confused. What do I do now? When do I get surgery? What does the (recovery) process look like? The next day, it sets in: Well, my season is over, and this sucks."
It didn't take Stonehouse long, however, to turn the page, and find optimism.
In his first public comments since injuring his left knee in the team's December 3 game against the Colts, Stonehouse said he had surgery on his non-punting leg on December 15. Stonehouse declined to reveal the specifics of the injury.
And while he's on crutches, and in a giant knee brace now, he hopes to begin walking without the crutches later this week. He's been rehabbing the knee every day since he returned to Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park after the procedure.
"I feel great," Stonehouse said. "I literally feel like I could not feel better, after surgery. Right now, all I care about is rehab, and getting back. And you just have to attack it."
In 2024, Stonehouse plans to be back, and better than ever.
"There's nothing I want more than to not just be back, but be back better than I was this year," Stonehouse said. "And I'm confident I can do that."
But even Stonehouse knows that won't be easy after he became the first player in history to lead the NFL in gross punting average in each of his first two NFL seasons.
Before landing on Injured Reserve to finish the 2023 season, Stonehouse averaged 53.06 yards per punt. His 53 attempts (2,812 yards) qualified him for the single-season charts, and as a result, he finished with the top two numbers of all-time in his first two NFL seasons. Stonehouse posted a 53.1 average in 2022.
Stonehouse welcomes the challenge.
"The cool thing about what I went through this year is I feel like I know exactly what I need to do to be better than I was this year," Stonehouse said. "Like, I need to improve on plus-50s, and that sort of stuff. I feel like I know exactly what I need to do, and if I can just get back to where I was, I don't have any worry. I know what it takes. And, I enjoy the process of improvement."