NASHVILLE – Jeffery Simmons is certain to play a bigger role for the Tennessee Titans this fall.
The best way to prepare, he figures, is to get smaller.
The fact that he is healthy this offseason has allowed the defensive lineman out of Mississippi State to work on his entire body as opposed to this time a year ago, when his focus was on recovery from reconstructive knee surgery. The 2019 first-round draft pick wants to play his second season 15-20 pounds lighter than he did his first.
“Coming off the injury I was up in my weight,” he said in a video conference Wednesday. “I don’t feel like I was comfortable at that weight. I’ve been working extremely hard to get my weight down, and it’s been a great process.
“I’m making a lot of progress with getting my weight down, and I’m going to continue to work at that and maintain where I’m at right now. I’m just working my tail off this offseason. Whenever the time comes when we do report, I’ll be ready.”
The Titans listed Simmons at 305 pounds on their 2019 roster. That was five pounds heavier than his final college season and – apparently – it was wishful thinking. The truth is that number is his goal for 2020.
Adjustments to his diet and training regimen under the direction of the team’s training staff has him well on his way more than three months before the start of the regular season.
“I played right at 320 [last season],” he conceded. “Right now, my weight is fluctuating so I’m like 309, 310 every now and then. My goal is to be under 300 or right at 300, 305. Whenever the time comes, especially for this season I know I’ll be at my goal weight.”
The rehabilitation from the injury, which he sustained during pre-draft training, may have added pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame, but it also cost Simmons time on the field. The 19th overall pick in 2019 was on the non-football injury list for all of training camp, the preseason and the first six weeks of the regular season. He finally made his debut in mid-October and played nine of the final 10 games as well as all three playoff contests.
Even with limited opportunity, he finished third among the team’s defensive linemen with 40 tackles. He also had two sacks.
In March, the Titans shed Jurrell Casey, their best defensive lineman for the past several years, when they traded him to Denver. The move created a huge opportunity for Simmons, who will slide into Casey’s spot in the lineup and try to fill the sizable shoes left by the five-time Pro Bowler.
“I don’t feel like it’s going to be a big leap coming from me,” Simmons said. “I think a lot of guys – especially guys that we’ve got coming in this year – I feel like everyone is going to play a big part of this season here coming up.
“Me personally, I don’t feel any pressure for me. Just be myself and continue to do what I do.”
Except that he will be lighter.