Vrabel back inside Titans’ HQ, optimistic more joining soon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel returned to work Wednesday after a 10-day quarantine for COVID-19, and the Titans’ virus outbreak may be easing up over the next few days.

“I think we’re hopeful that this will be a positive next few days for us in that regard,” Vrabel said.

The Titans still have nine players currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including five starters: quarterback Ryan Tannehill, center Ben Jones, right guard Nate Davis, tight end Geoff Swaim and outside linebacker Harold Landry III.

Tennessee has some time with the season opener Sept. 12 against Arizona. With the Titans practicing Monday for a longer game week after a three-day mini-bye, Vrabel scrapped scheduled practices Wednesday and Thursday for his return. He chose to focus on meetings, conditioning work and weightlifting instead.

“The more I thought about it I think that this is going to be best for our football team and then be able to take a few days off this weekend, come back Monday and really focus in and have a great week,” Vrabel said. “But it’s a long week. And we have plenty of time.”

Vrabel said he feels as if the Titans have been getting a lot out of meetings and preparation.

“This is what I felt like was best for the football team,” he said.

General manager Jon Robinson said Vrabel was so happy to be back at the team’s headquarters he was smiling when he parked his truck Wednesday morning.

With so many other Titans nearing a return, that’s why the current 53-man roster will change so much in the coming days. Tennessee currently has seven wide receivers, 13 defensive backs and the nine offensive linemen grew to 10 Wednesday with the Titans claiming offensive lineman Corey Levin off waivers.

“We’re still looking at the roster as a whole and trying to decide numerically how many we need to keep at this position or that position in anticipation for how we’re going to attack the fall with respect to guys that are going to come off COVID here at some point,” Robinson said.

The Titans created a roster spot in waiving veteran Matt Barkley, leaving Logan Woodside as the winner of their battle to back up Tannehill. Robinson said they were signing Barkley to the practice squad. Whether the Titans keep him isolated from the rest of the team as a COVID-19 insurance policy remains to be decided.

Levin was a sixth-round draft pick out of Chattanooga in 2017 by Tennessee. He played 16 games with the Titans before stints with Denver and Chicago in 2019 and the Patriots in 2020. The New York Jets waived him Tuesday.

Robinson said Levin was in Nashville and not New York when he talked to him about joining the Titans again.

“I was like, ‘OK, well, just gas up the tank and drive over,” Robinson said.

NOTES: The Titans waived offensive lineman Cole Banwart on Tuesday, but placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday. Tennessee also signed 12 others to the practice squad: DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, S Jamal Carter, FB Tory Carter, OL Christian DiLauro, WR Dez Fitzpatrick, TE Miller Forristall, OL Derwin Gray, DL Woodrow Hamilton, LB Jan Johnson, DL Naquan Jones, WR Mason Kinsey and OL Jordan Roos.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker

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