NASHVILLE – Jeremy McNichols no longer is the Tennessee Titans’ first choice for a change-of-pace/pass-receiving running back.
That is not to say that anyone has seen the last of him.
The Titans signed McNichols to their practice squad Tuesday, three days after they released him from the active roster. With Derrick Henry on his way back from injured reserve, franchise officials settled on Dontrell Hilliard for the role that McNichols had filled for most of the past two seasons.
“I have a lot of respect for (McNichols) and what he has done,” coach Mike Vrabel said Monday. “It is nothing against Jeremy. Sometimes you just have to make decisions on special teams and the gameplan each and every week. Things can change next week, but that is what we had to do at the end of the week and not to mention injuries that happened at other positions.”
McNichols’ return to the practice squad means he could be in uniform for Tennessee’s next game, which will be in the divisional round of the playoffs.
After all, running back Jordan Wilkins was a gameday addition to the active roster from the practice squad Sunday at Houston and made his Titans debut in the 28-25 victory over the Texans. Wilkins was moved from the practice squad to the Reserve—COVID-19 list on Tuesday.
McNichols caught 28 passes – tops among the team’s running backs and seventh overall – for 240 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 156 rushing yards on 41 carries in 14 games. He has played 30 games for Tennessee over the past two seasons.
Dontrell Hilliard, rushed for 350 yards and two touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 87 yards in eight appearances since he was signed – first as a member of the practice squad – in late October.
“(Hilliard) has taken advantage of every opportunity,” Vrabel said. “… There are a lot of things that go into making decisions to get to 53 guys on the active roster. How many guys you can elevate? If you have to sign a guy, has he used multiple elevations?
“Every week is different, and [general manager] Jon [Robinson] and I will discuss those things as we move forward.”
Other moves: Even as they prepare for their playoff opener, the Titans also began to look to next season. They signed outside linebacker Kobe Jones and defensive back Chris Williamson to futures contracts, which means they will join the roster at the completion of the current season.
Williamson was a seventh-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 2020, who also has spent time with Atlanta. He appeared in five games for the Falcons this season.
Jones was an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2021 who spent time with Atlanta and Miami.