NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Wide receiver Robert Woods ran over to the sideline to grab a yellow jersey he quickly pulled over his new Titans’ No. 2 jersey.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time he’s forgotten the jersey signaling his new Tennessee teammates to avoid contact during team and passing drills. He’s also not the only one wearing the no-contact jersey this offseason working back from injuries.
Cornerback Caleb Farley, Woods, wide receiver Racey McMath and cornerback Kristian Fulton all wore the yellow jerseys Tuesday. For Farley, Tennessee’s first-round draft pick last year is just happy to be on the field again no matter what he has to wear after being one of 26 to land on injured reserve last season.
“It feels amazing,” Farley said Tuesday. “It’s truly a blessing, and I’m grateful every day I wake up.”
The yellow jerseys help the Titans get players still rehabilitating from injuries on the field safely.
Coach Mike Vrabel has made clear that the training staff monitor players closely with each having a different plan in their recovery. Teammates know the yellow jerseys mean to avoid contact with someone working back from an injury to make sure those players are able to step up their rehab work on the field.
Tennessee benefited greatly in 2021 from the NFL allowing teams to recall an unlimited number of players from injured reserve, bringing 15 off injured reserve with Derrick Henry the last on Jan. 21. NFL teams will only be able to bring eight players off injured reserve this upcoming season.
That puts a premium on getting, and staying, as healthy as possible.
Farley was limited to three games as a rookie. First he fought through a shoulder injury, then Farley tore his left ACL on Oct. 18 in the first start of his career. He wound up among 26 players placed on injured reserve in 2021 by the Titans, who finished the season using an NFL-record 91 players for a non-strike year.
Woods is a veteran going into his 10th season. But he tore his left ACL on Nov. 12 and is in Nashville after the Rams traded him to the Titans in March. Being on the field, even wearing the yellow jersey at times, allows him to become familiar with a new offense and new teammates while working on his recovery.
The veteran receiver is expected to be the Titans’ top wide receiver this season. Farley, the No. 22 selection overall last year, has a chance to earn the starting cornerback spot opposite Fulton. They’re helping push each other through rehab and talk a lot.
“Being able to just pick each other’s brains of why I do a certain release or what he prefers as a corner in press,” Woods said recently. “What’s the range, but like really just being able to get reps, being on the side and being off the field. But it goes hand in hand. I’m learning from him. He learned from me.”
Farley was considered possibly the top cornerback prospect in 2021 until a second back surgery in March dropped him to No. 22 where the Titans drafted him. That is not an issue anymore. Farley said he had forgotten all about his back issue until asked about it Tuesday.
The cornerback has no timetable for when he’s fully cleared by the Titans, trusting the training staff and coaches to make the right decision. When he is back on the field, Farley’s goals remain unchanged.
“I want to win. I want to dominate,” he said. “That’s my mentality.”
NOTES: Receivers coach Rob Moore said rookie Treylon Burks, the 18th pick overall in April’s draft, has asthma. Burks, who was unavailable Tuesday and not at the final organized team activity open to reporters, was seen using an inhaler during rookie minicamp in May. Vrabel said the Titans had a long medical history on Burks, someone they visited with before the draft.
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