NASHVILLE – It’s been a noteworthy season thus far for Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan, but not for the reasons he would prefer.
Things began on a disappointing note in Week 1 when Lewan, playing in his first game since reconstructive surgery for a torn ACL last October, struggled uncharacteristically against Arizona. He surrendered a pair of sacks to the Cardinals’ Chandler Jones, and an off-balance Lewan was also knocked to the ground by Cardinals safety Budda Baker during one play.
And then came another turnaround.
With Titans fans wondering whether their three-time Pro Bowler would miss an extended period, Lewan was back on the practice field Wednesday. There was no sleeve, no brace on the knee in question. He was moving well, no limp or apparent discomfort from the knee injury.
It continued that way throughout the week, as Lewan was listed as a full practice participant on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“I expect Taylor to be ready to go and perform and do his job (Sunday),” coach Mike Vrabel said.
Still, Vrabel was asked, isn’t it unusual for a player to go through two weeks of full practices – separated only by a missed game?
“He was unavailable for the game,” Vrabel said. “He became available, so he practiced.”
The Titans did not make Lewan available to media during the week. So, he has not been able – or willing – to address what happened.
One issue that commonly affects those who’ve undergone ACL surgery is a build-up of scar tissue, which can cause pain and impact the mobility of the knee joint. Vrabel was asked if he ever dealt with such an issue during his 14-year NFL career.
“No, I never had a knee surgery,” Vrabel said. “I guess a double hernia, probably some scar tissue there. (But) every injury carries its own issues as far as recovery and things you go through. We make decisions about injuries as far as guys making it worse. Can they protect themselves, and can they reasonably do their job? That is kind of how we track things.”
Lewan has now missed 18 of a possible 34 regular-season games for the Titans since the start of the 2019 season. He was suspended for the first four games of 2019 for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substitutes. He played in just the first five games of 2020 before the ACL tear on Oct. 18.
Left guard Rodger Saffold, who missed a number of games earlier in his career with neck, shoulder and knee injuries, said he can sympathize with what Lewan is going through on the road to full recovery.
“It’s tough -- it’s really tough, especially when you haven’t had a lot of injuries before,” Saffold said. “The best thing you can do is just try to support him as much as possible. The one thing I told him when he couldn’t go in the game (against Seattle), I was like, `Hey, listen, the only thing you can control right now is just listen to whatever these doctors and trainers say, and just try to get back on the field as soon as possible.’
“… You see him out here running on Wednesday, doing an entire practice,” Saffold said. “He didn’t have to do that. That’s on him. That just tells you about the quality of character on this team, and just how much he wants to play ball, and he wants to play well.”