Caleb Farley Passes Physical With Tennessee Titans

Caleb Farley Passes Physical With Tennessee Titans

Can the Titans Cash in With Farley as They Did With Simmons?

General manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel have shown they are willing to roll the dice and use first-round picks on injured players.
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NASHVILLE – For some NFL teams, Caleb Farley was not worth the risk. For the Tennessee Titans, he represented a chance to double-down.

The cornerback out of Virginia Tech became the Titans’ second-first-round pick in three years to slide down the draft board due to concerns about his medical history. Tennessee selected Farley No. 22 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft with no assurances that he would be available for the start of the season due to a pair of back surgeries a little more than a year apart, the second of which took place weeks before the draft. There also were questions about his durability due to a knee injury delayed the start of his college career by one year.

So, it was a notable moment Monday when Farley was removed from the team’s Non-Football Injury (NFI) list, added to the active roster and cleared to take part in practice with the rest of the squad. In short, he passed his physical.

No one was prepared to say that Farley would be in the starting lineup and capable of shutting down DeAndre Hopkins when the Titans host the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. Under coach Mike Vrabel and the current medical staff, the team has been unwilling to look too far into the future when it concerns a player’s health.

“It is just going to be working him back in and trying to make sure that he feels good and that the conditioning level is where it needs to be, to be able to compete and get him through practice,” Vrabel said Monday.

The selection of Farley, however, was all about the future and what he could contribute once he was healthy, even if that did happen until the 2022 season. And no one need look too far into the franchise’s past to find reason for optimism that Tennessee can reap the rewards that come with an undeniably gifted prospect who nonetheless is considered a medical risk.

In 2019, Tennessee selected Jeffery Simmons at No. 19 roughly two months after he had undergone reconstructive knee surgery (there also were concerns related to an off-the-field incident when he was in high school). It was clear that there was no chance the 6-foot-4, 305-pounder out of Mississippi State would play in the opener and serious doubts at all about whether he would see the field that fall.

Simmons ultimately spent the first six weeks of his rookie season on the NFI list, made his NFL debut in mid-October and was an undeniable factor in a game-saving goal-line stand to cap that game, a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at Nissan Stadium. Following a 2020 season in which he played 15 games and was arguably the Titans’ most consistent and best player on defense, many have identified him as a player who will be recognized as one of the best at his position this fall.

“When (Farley) got drafted here, I talked to him,” Simmons said. “I didn’t know his timeline. I just told him about my experience. That’s about all I could really do – you know, what I’ve been through, kind of the situation I was in – and give him some pointers on how he could control what he can control.”

His standing within the team and ever-growing notoriety across the league also serve as a daily dose of confidence for the Titans that they could do it again.

Farley was not exactly a standout performer in his first practice as a professional. He was pulled from the action having taken part in individual drills and briefly having gone against the offense early in the proceedings. He spent time picking the brain of veteran cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins.

What comes next is to be determined, but the hard part – the waiting – is now behind him.

“Everybody has a different plan, and some guys do a little bit more, some guys do less,” Vrabel said. “We will see how he feels and … what the follow up is with that. We will evaluate him again (Tuesday) morning and then just continue to progress as we move forward.”

The fact that Farley reached this point in his recovery at this juncture of the season only increases expectations for what he might be able to do as a rookie. The first preseason game is nearly two weeks away, it is still more than a month before the Cardinals come to town.

Barring any setbacks, there is now no reason to think he will have to wait nearly as long as Simmons did to make his NFL debut. Absent any disasters, there is also no reason to think that he doesn’t have what it takes to be an integral part of the defense – because now he has his health.

“I am excited to watch him play,” Vrabel said. “And this was a great step in hopefully a long career here to get him out on the practice field.”

A step a Titans’ first-round draft pick has now taken for the second time.

NASHVILLE – For some NFL teams, Caleb Farley was not worth the risk. For the Tennessee Titans, he represented a chance to double-down.

The cornerback out of Virginia Tech became the Titans’ second-first-round pick in three years to slide down the draft board due to concerns about his medical history. Tennessee selected Farley No. 22 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft with no assurances that he would be available for the start of the season due to a pair of back surgeries a little more than a year apart, the second of which took place weeks before the draft. There also were questions about his durability due to a knee injury delayed the start of his college career by one year.

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