Jack Conklin working to get back to old form

Terry McCormick

Jack Conklin was put in a difficult spot from the outset of the 2018 season.

Coming off an ACL injury he sustained in a playoff loss at New England in January, Conklin underwent surgery and missed all of the Tennessee Titans’ off-season work, training camp, preseason and the first three regular season games.

That in itself is enough of an obstacle, but Conklin is also in the process of learning a new zone blocking scheme that accompanies Matt LaFleur’s new offense.

“It takes a while, coming off a blown ACL, it takes time to get the confidence back in it. And then I’m getting used to the offense, it’s completely different. It’s an on-going process, and I’ve just got to keep grinding and getting better every week,” said Conklin, who was an All-Pro selection as a rookie in 2016.

Conklin’s play has been filled with inconsistency as has the rest of the Titans offensive line, which has allowed 42 sacks this year in 12 games. Conklin admits he has to play better, and adds that even though he might not be 100 percent back to his old self, that if he is on the field, he is expected to produce.

“I definitely can (play at the level I need to). I’ve got to play better. I haven’t played as well as I can, but I have an opportunity to keep getting better. And that’s what I’ve got to do,” Conklin said.

That same ideology can be applied across the offensive line, where Coach Mike Vrabel made a change last Sunday against the Jets, removing left guard Quinton Spain, inserting Corey Levin at center and moving starting center Ben Jones to guard.

“We haven’t played as well as we can and we haven’t played nearly as well as we did in the past, and we’ve got to get back to that. We’re fighting and we’ve got to play better,” Conklin said. “The offense rolls on us. If we’re playing well, then the offense can roll. We haven’t played to that level. I haven’t played to that level and I need to, if we’re going to get on that roll.”

As to what has been the biggest difference in going to a zone blocking scheme and away from the system the Titans ran the previous two years when they were more of a grinding run-first unit, Conklin said there is more running rather than just taking a couple of steps to reach the point of attack.

“Going from the gap scheme to the zone, it’s a lot more running. It’s less timed steps. It’s more running and getting on the guy, getting the back out on the edge and giving him holes to go where he wants,” Conklin said. “It’s less of a board drill type steps and more running. It is a big difference, but it’s something we’ve been drilling a lot, and we’re getting better and better.”