The wait is finally over for Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin, who will make his 2018 season debut just over nine months after suffering a torn ACL in a playoff loss at New England.
For Conklin, being able to step back onto a football field with his teammates Sunday when the Titans host the Philadelphia Eagles, has him excited.
“I’m really pumped. It’s hard to sit there and see your teammates out there and not be able to help. I’m excited to be back and help this team make a difference,” said Conklin, who spent all of training camp on the PUP list and was inactive for the first thre games of the year
Conklin was a full participant throughout the week of practice and is confident that the injury is past him. He said the way the Titans tested him in practices leading up to his return has him convinced he is 100 percent healthy and read to return to a full workload.
“I’ve been in practice and they sent everything at me. They weren’t going to put me out there unless I was ready to roll. I feel confident,” he said.
The 2016 All-Pro said he feels faster and stronger than ever, losing 10 pounds in the process of his return.
“I honestly feel better than I’ve ever felt playing. I’m running around and I feel faster. I’m honestly a lot stronger than I’ve ever been playing. I’m excited to see all the hard work pay off and help the team,” Conklin said.
While Conklin is returning to the lineup, his top backup, Dennis Kelly, remains out with a mysterious illness that he does not yet know the diagnosis.
Kelly, in his first media session since contracting the illness in week two, said he is awaiting more tests results to find what the ailment is.
“Literally we don’t know anything. That’s kind of the mystery is what exactly happened. I just kind of have to wait it out and see what the people who have seen it, see what they think,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he lost some weight when the illness first hit. He was hospitalized for a few days initially, and has not practiced since the illness.
“I feel pretty good. The last couple of days I’ve started to really feel much better. Without knowing what it is, we’re trying to make sure we’re being careful with everything. We want to maintain where I’m at and not push too hard and have a setback,” Kelly said. “I’m trying to get it weight) back up. I lost a little bit (of weight) when the initial illness hit, but I’m getting back to normal”
In addition to Kelly, running back David Fluellen remains out this week with a groin injury. Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert will see an independent physician to see if he can be cleared from concussion protocol. He did not practice this week after suffering a hit from the Jaguars’ Malik Jackson last week. He is questionable for Sunday’s game.
Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was cleared from the concussion protocol and will play Sunday against the Eagles.
ROSTER MOVE: The Titans filled receiver Rishard Matthews’ roster spot with defensive lineman Darius Kilgo. Also, defensive end Jurrell Casey was out of Friday’s practice to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.