NASHVILLE – Titans rookie defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons has signed, but at this time, he's not ready to deliver.
So what's the plan for the team's first-round pick as the rest of his teammates go through OTAs in May and June, a minicamp, and training camp?
A lot of recovery, rehab, and learning.
"I want him to do what everybody else does: Come in here to work, be on time, be focused, be accountable," Titans coach Mike Vrabel said of Simmons this week. "(He needs to) attack his rehab, attack the meetings, and attack the weight room until he can start do more."
Simmons signed his rookie contract this week, but he isn't able to take part in OTAs as he recovers from the ACL injury he suffered in February.
Simmons won't be ready for the start of the 2019 season, and there's no guarantee he'll play at all this fall. He's still early in his rehabilitation of the knee, and every player heals differently.
In the NFL, every player also gets injured, Vrabel reminds.
How they handle themselves when they're injured is key.
"I try to always tell the player that the injury rate in professional football — or even college football — is 100 percent, that they're guaranteed to somehow get injured from the start of their career to the end of their career," Vrabel said. "And it's not necessarily the injury. It's how you deal with it and how you stay engaged with your teammates while they're practicing and you're treating. And it's how you stay up on the playbook and to be ready when your get the opportunity."
When he's healthy, Simmons should be a force for the Titans.
At Mississippi State, Simmons racked up 163 tackles, seven sacks, 32.5 tackles for a loss and four forced fumbles in three seasons at Mississippi State. He began the offseason as a potential top-10 pick.
Now the 6-foot-4, 301-pound defensive lineman will learn, wait, and recover.
"He can't do much on the field but he's doing a lot of rehab and he's lifting and he's engaged in the meetings," Vrabel said of Simmons. "Whenever he's ready, we'll get him out there. We just have to make sure that mentally and physically that he's ready to go."