The Tennessee Titans have been one of few NFL teams that have played it safe with the game’s most important position this season.
For the better part of the first half of the schedule, the Titans quarantined practice squad quarterback Trevor Siemian, who New Orleans Saints recently signed to the active roster. If the coronavirus hit the Titans’ quarterback room, he would have been called upon to play without the possibility that he could be sidelined by contact tracing .
Now, the quarantined quarterback is third-year quarterback DeShone Kizer.
“I was happy for (Siemian) but I was sad to see him go because he was such a good guy,” quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara said Tuesday. “The relationship that he and I built was kind of unique because it was so much of what we are doing right now [Zoom meetings]. Kind of working around the fringes of what we are doing and keeping him up to speed not only with what the plan was each week, but logistically.
“... On a personal note, it was bittersweet. Other than that, you just reset as a professional. What’s next? That’s what you have to do. DeShone is here now. It’s essentially the same type of thing here with DeShone.”
Signed to the practice squad days after Siemian’s departure, the Titans are working to get the third-year veteran up to speed. Tennessee has some degree of familiarity with Kizer as he first tried out for the team in mid-August along with Siemian.
O’Hara said the Titans have a mental and physical plan for Kizer. Head coach Mike Vrabel said on Monday that Kizer would most likely “Zoom meet and then get a workout in after practice after guys go back in.”
“It’s a combination of some on field work and a lot of Zoom work,” O’Hara said. “... There’s a little bit of familiarity that he has with the system based on his past, that’s helped a little bit, but he has a lot of ground to make up. So far it’s been good. We’ll continue to work with him.”
The 24-year-old has spent time with the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers and on the Las Vegas Raiders’ practice squad this season.
Cleveland selected the Notre Dame product in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft. Cleveland went 0-16 that season, and Kizer started 15 of those games.
As a rookie, he completed just over 50 percent of his passes (255-476) for 2,894 yards and 11 touchdowns. He led the league with 22 interceptions. Additionally, he ran 77 times for 419 yards and five touchdowns.
The Browns traded the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder to the Packers in March of 2018. In three appearances off of the bench with Green Bay, Kizer completed 20 of his 24 passes for 187 yards. He did not record a touchdown and threw two interceptions.
For his career, he has a 58.9 passer rating and has thrown more than twice as many interceptions (24) as touchdown passes.
Kizer spent training camp and the first month of this season with the Raiders. He served as the protected quarterback once (Week 2) but was released shortly after on Sept. 30.
“His skill set is there,” O’Hara said. “He’s got arm talent, very good size. He’s mobile. So far, his retention level has been good.
“We’ll continue to work with him and try to have him understand what we’re trying to accomplish here.”