NASHVILLE – Even the seemingly inexhaustible Harold Landry benefits from a breather every now and then.
The Tennessee Titans’ outside linebacker is scheduled to start his 49th straight game Sunday at Pittsburgh, an iron man streak that currently ranks 10th among all active players on defense. The only game Landry has ever missed, in fact, was the first of his NFL career in 2018. He’s played in 60 straight since then.
Despite the heavy snap load Landry has played over all those games, it appears he’s refreshed and reenergized as the Titans prepare for the stretch run of the regular season and a likely postseason berth.
Landry recorded two full practices this week, on Thursday and Friday, the first time that’s happened since Week 7. In fact, when Landry produced a full practice last Friday – prior to the Jacksonville game -- it was his very first since Week 7.
The 2018 second-round draft pick had been limited ever since Week 8 due to a hamstring injury, but Tennessee’s open date – which occurred after 12 games – has Landry looking and feeling healthier.
“Just speaking individually, I felt like the bye definitely helped me out a lot,” Landry said. “It allowed me to rest. Like I told you all, the NFL is a long season. I felt like we had a late bye. (But) I think that bye definitely helped me get my legs back and help me going forward for the remainder of the season.”
The fact that the hamstring strain appears to be settling down may mean an uptick in Landry’s already impressive numbers.
In the first seven games of the season, before Landry started appearing regularly on the injury report, he totaled 7.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss and 13 quarterback hits. In the last six games, the production in those categories has slipped a bit, as Landry posted 3.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits during that stretch.
Overall, it’s still been a career year for Landry, who could be on the way to the Pro Bowl in the final season of his contract. He’s topped his previous season bests with 11 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 20 quarterback hits – with four games still remaining.
Here’s a note, courtesy of CBS Sports, that sums up Landry’s all-round contribution this season: He’s one of just three NFL players – along with the Rams’ Aaron Donald and Cowboys rookie Micah Parsons – with at least 10 sacks and at least 60 tackles this season.
“I pride myself on being versatile, being able to move around and do different things,” Landry said. “I just feel like those numbers speak to that.”
Just how important has Landry been for the Titans in all facets of the game? Per Pro Football Focus, Landry has been on the field for 771 snaps – 417 as a pass rusher, 245 against the run and 109 in pass coverage.
“There are a lot of reasons why he has played as much as he has,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “One is he is conditioned and prepared for it. Two, there have been some moving parts. There haven’t been a whole lot of guys at that position available. (But) I don’t think you can take anything away.
“All the credit to Harold and his preparation and his continued growth of understanding where to be. He has been a bunch of different places. He has dropped, he has covered, he has been at the line of scrimmage, and he handles all that and studies. He is a very good professional.”
And Landry may now be playing with a little more spring in his step as well.