NASHVILLE – Darius Jennings might not have been on the team. He was still one of the guys, though.
“I know the guys in the locker room,” he said. “[They’re] friends outside the building. So, I’m always going to root for my guys.
“I was definitely glad to see the team take off and have some success.”
Jennings was back on the practice field with the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, nearly two months after they released him.
They won four of their first five games without him, a streak that thrust them back into the AFC playoff chase, and now they need the fifth-year receiver/returner to help them see it through to the finish. He is likely to be in uniform Sunday at Houston, where Tennessee can clinch the second AFC wild card with a victory over the Texans.
Tennessee re-signed Jennings on Monday because Kalif Raymond, who effectively took his spot as the primary kickoff return man and backup wide receiver, was one of two players in the concussion protocol with injuries sustained in Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints.
“We’ve always had a lot of confidence in Darius,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “There’s different personnel things that we have to work through. So, we’re excited to get DJ back and I know that if – and when – called upon, he’ll be prepared and play with great effort and probably take advantage of his opportunities.”
In seven games before his release, Jennings averaged 21.0 yards on seven kickoff returns. He also caught two passes for 17 yards.
He split his time as a free agent between Nashville and his hometown of Baltimore and made sure he was physically ready when his next opportunity came, which was nothing new. He made his NFL debut in 2015 with Cleveland and then did not play another regular season game until 2018 with the Titans.
Along the way he has been released nine times by four different teams.
“Once you know what you have to do for your body, it’s easy,” he said. “You can do that wherever. … The mindset don’t change, you know what I’m saying? Stay ready. Be ready. Workout.
“I had a few other workouts [and] visits but I’ve always been prepared.”
And he was always one of the guys … even when he wasn’t a part of the roster.
“Just watching the guys, watching the team go … it’s been fun to watch as a spectator,” he said. “Just being back around these guys, it’s definitely a good feeling.”