Titans to be Conservative with Injured Julio

Coach Mike Vrabel says the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver's on-field work will be limited until the start of the regular season.
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NASHVILLE – Mike Vrabel said everyone should expect the Julio Jones watch to be a regular feature of what remains of Tennessee Titans training camp.

That was the fourth-year head coach’s way of saying that folks probably should not expect to see much of the Pro Bowl wide receiver between now and the start of the regular season.

Jones did not take part in Wednesday’s workout and was not on the field for the session, which made it two days in a row that he was sidelined by an injury. Trainers took Jones from the field during Monday’s workout after he was apparently hurt on a pass thrown his way during red zone work.

The Titans have not said exactly what is Jones’ injury but have suggested that no one thinks it is serious.

“We’re going to be – probably – cautious with Julio,” Vrabel said. “So, the Julio watch will continue. We’ll have a plan for him, but I would anticipate we would be all on the same page by the time the season started.”

Injuries limited Jones to just nine games played for the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. It was the first time since 2013 (his third year) that he was on the field for fewer than 14.

At 32 years old, he is a veteran of 135 NFL contests and ranks among the top 20 all-time in receiving yards and the top 30 all-time in receptions.

In recent years, preseason games have not been a big part of Jones’ preparation for the regular season. The last time he appeared in one of those contests was 2017, and that year he took part in just one of four for the Falcons. The last time he caught a pass in a preseason game was 2016 when he played in three of the four tune-up contests and had two receptions for 37 yards. His last preseason touchdown reception was in 2015.

Having acquired Jones in a trade with Atlanta in June, the Titans had limited his work through the first few days of camp as they did with other notable veterans such as running back Derrick Henry and tackle Taylor Lewan.

Until he was hit, Jones did more Monday, the fifth time players were on the field, than he did in any of the previous four practices. For example, it was his first participation in 11-on-11 drills.

Vrabel stressed that Jones won’t be put on ice until the regular season. The idea is simply to make sure that he is ready to go for Week 1, when Tennessee hosts the Arizona Cardinals.

“You’re going to see him out there at times,” Vrabel said. “You’re going to see him on the other field [rehabbing at times]. He’s played a lot of games. So, that’s kind of where we’re going to be each and every day and I won’t have to address it every day.”

The Titans’ preseason opener is Aug. 13 at Atlanta, and it seems certain now that Jones will not play in that game. The following week, they will have two days of joint practices against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and how much – if at all – Jones takes part in those will be of great interest to many.