Once the Julio Jones trade was made official, imaginations ran wild with the numerous possibilities for Jones in the Titans’ explosive offense.
Of course when you add arguably one of the best wide receivers of a generation, you’re bound to dabble in the potential numbers he could end the season with, especially when that same offense possesses both A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry.
I mean it’s hard to resist doing so, right?
You have a two time reigning rushing champ that’s shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. A young, physical specimen of a wide receiver that’s due to unlock another facet of his already dominant game and ascend to the top of the league at his position. And, now you add one of the best receivers to ever play while he’s still capable of carrying an elite level of play at the age of 32?
You understand the hype right?
However, despite the hype and excitement around the league’s newest high profile offensive trio, the bunch have yet to grace the field throughout camp and in the two preseason games the Titans have played so far at the same time.
Why is that?
Well, Jones simply hasn’t been able to practice a great deal so far.
The seven time Pro Bowler and two time first team All Pro selection has barely practiced since he became a Titan this past June. He participated in OTAs and minicamp, showing just a tiny glimpse of the game changing talent that’s expected to benefit this offense this coming fall.
But once training camp rolled around, Jones began to stack missed practice days on top of each other, leaving many to wonder what the deal was with the team’s newest offensive toy.
We heard the word maintenance being thrown around, but without a concrete answer, we can also be left wondering if the injury Jones is dealing is more severe than we thought? There just hasn’t been any clarity on why Jones hasn’t been able to practice and build rapport with his new quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Head coach Mike Vrabel has been mum about the entire situation, staying true to his ultra tight lipped policy about discussing his players and the possible injuries they’re dealing with.
Is it concerning that Jones hasn’t been able to practice? Maybe, maybe not.
If you’re familiar with Jones’ practice habits over the last few seasons, you’d easily dismiss any concern regarding him missing on field work. He was given a vast amount of maintenance days, just so his body could ultimately stay fresh throughout the week in preparation for game day.
His production on the field warranted that plan too, so in retrospect there’s no reason to worry right?
I’d agree if he was still in Atlanta as a Falcon. But since he’s here in Tennessee, things are obviously a little different.
There’s no worries about Jones and his ability to soak up the contents of the playbook during his absence on the field. Any player can hit the books and study during a time like this, that’s if you have the dedication and willingness to work hard for the sake of the team.
However, the on field communication necessary for success between quarterbacks and receivers can’t be fully be taught by simply sitting on a sideline and talking through things. On field work has to happen at some point, and practice reps need to happen time and time again in order to get things right.
Things like timing, how a quarterback’s ball look in real time, where a receiver likes a ball while running a certain route or play, all important things that translate to on field success.
That’s why Jones missing valuable time on the practice field becomes more worrying as the offseason goes on.
The things like timing and such need to be ironed out before week one of the regular season begins. Failing to do so can result in your star quarterback and receiver not being in sync, which would then lead to slow starts and drive killing miscommunications between two key members of your offense.
Now I could be entirely wrong about this. Tannehill and Jones could be developing a legit rapport during the time spent away from each other on the practice field and that mysterious third field, which in part would kill any sort of concern for their chemistry shown on the field.
As each day passes, continuing our slow march towards week one of the regular season, Jones’ practice time and habits will be closely monitored to gauge what level of participation he’s able to have.
He was able to practice in some capacity yesterday, so that’s a start.
However, if that level continues to be like any of the last few weeks, and can’t be ramped up soon, then maybe it’ll be time to talk about what sort of repercussions could come as a result.