NASHVILLE – Kalif Raymond wasn't knocked out.
But when the Titans receiver gathered himself on the field after absorbing a big hit in the team's December 22 game against the Saints, he knew something wasn't right.
"I wasn't completely unconscious, but I knew after I got hit, I wasn't getting up any time soon," Raymond said on Wednesday. "My head, I was in some pain a little bit."
Raymond, who has missed the past two games because of a concussion, has officially been cleared from concussion protocol, coach Mike Vrabel said on Wednesday. He spoke to reporters for the first time on Wednesday since being sidelined with the head injury.
Raymond was injured after absorbing a bit hit from Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the contest. Raymond lost the football, and the Saints picked it up and returned it a long way, setting up a touchdown late in the game. Gardner-Johnson wasn't flagged, but he was fined $28,075 by the NFL for unnecessary roughness.
Mike Pereira, a former VP of officiating in the NFL who is now with FOX, has since indicated the play should been called an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver.
The 5-foot-8, 182-pound Raymond, who had never suffered a concussion before the hit against the Saints, on Wednesday said he has no hard feelings about the hit. He complimented how the team's trainers and coaches handled the situation.
"To be honest with you, to me, it's a part of the game," Raymond said of the hit. "Obviously you don't want that to happen, but the only thing I was worried about after was to make sure I could get back as early as I can.
"(The hit) just happened in the game, but I was able to move past it and able to get healthy so I could get back."
The speedy receiver is just glad to be back, and he's hoping to be in a position to help the Titans in the return game and at receiver in the team's divisional round playoff game against the Ravens on Saturday night in Baltimore. Raymond handled punts before the injury, and he also has nine catches for 170 yards and a touchdown on the season. He had a 40-yard touchdown catch in the team's win at Indianapolis on December 1.
Rashard Davis has handled punts the past two games for the Titans.
"It was tough to miss because you want to be out there with your guys," Raymond said. "But I tried to do everything I could do to support them and show them love.
"But I am excited to play football again. I'm excited to go fight with those guys."
The Tennessee Titans practice on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donald Page)