NASHVILLE – Rodger Saffold has started at left guard in 12 of the Tennessee Titans’ 13 games this season.
He has not finished that many.
Sunday’s 31-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars was the latest in which the 11th-year veteran had to come off the field and did not reenter the contest. It’s not clear whether or not he was able to play anymore because at the time he was hurt – just under three minutes to play in the third quarter – the Titans had a 21-point lead and firm control of the proceedings.
Ultimately, he sat out the final 21 offensive snaps while rookie Aaron Brewer got a little more in-game experience.
That made it the third time in the last five games he was on the field for fewer than 70 percent of the offense’s plays and the fifth time in his last six appearances he missed some snaps. He missed the Nov. 22 victory over Baltimore completely because of an ankle injury that forced him to spend the entire fourth quarter of a loss to Indianapolis on the sideline.
By comparison, Saffold played every snap in five of the season’s first six contests.
“You’re really injured when you can’t do your job effectively, and it’s going to be detrimental to the team,” he said recently.
It is a distinction he has had to weigh often in recent weeks. A shoulder injury knocked him out of the Nov. 8 victory over Chicago. Four days later he was in the starting lineup for the Thursday night matchup with the Colts but sustained a left ankle injury when tight end Jonnu Smith accidentally rolled into his legs.
Last week, Saffold was still on the injury report due to the latter ailment. He was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice but a full participant in the final two sessions in preparation for the Jaguars.
“Rodger’s played a lot of football in his career, and I think he’s dealt with some of these things late in the season, like a lot of offensive linemen,” coach Mike Vrabel said Monday. “But to be able to have the durability to do that and play through some of that has been, probably, part of his success – a big part of his success.
“So, we’ll just try to get him going this week and see how he feels.”
The 32-year-old, who started his career with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, has played at least 15 games in six of his 10 seasons, including each of the last four. In 2019, Saffold’s first with the Titans he appeared in all 16 regular season and the three postseason contests. He played every snap in 15 of those 19 games.
He will need to start the three remaining contests in order to get to 15 this year. Not that he is terribly worried if he does not.
“The group is so cohesive and tight inside the O-line room that it doesn’t matter who you plug in,” he said. “You’re going to get some good play out of our guys.”