“Help Wanted” signs have become a more frequent sight as businesses face the challenge of keeping enough people available and on hand.
The Tennessee Titans can probably relate.
For the second season in a row, the Titans are having issues with injuries and have brought in reinforcements left and right just to keep a full roster for game days.
It has been getting so bad that perhaps the Titans need to keep a stash of “Hello, My Name Is...” stickers inside Saint Thomas Sports Park to acclimate everyone about who is in and who is out on a week-to-week basis.
Last year, the Titans ran through an NFL record 91 players, and somehow even with all the injuries, they managed to go 12-5.
This season, the bad luck with injuries has started all over again, forcing general manager Jon Robinson to have agents on speed dial and head coach Mike Vrabel and his staff to give crash courses to newcomers on a weekly basis.
In Sunday’s win over Indianapolis, two new players introduced themselves to their defensive teammates, as defensive lineman Mario Edwards and linebacker Joe Schobert made their Titans debuts. Also, safety Andrew Adams was in the starting lineup for the first time. But he had a whole week last week to learn his role before stepping in for starter Amani Hooker, who missed Sunday’s game in the concussion protocol. And defensive back Terrance Mitchell, who made his Titans debut last week against the Raiders? He’s an old hand by now with two games under his belt.
With all the new faces in the lineup, there are bound to be some bumps in the road in terms of communications and breakdowns. But despite the issues of breaking in newcomers, the Titans have survived and managed to even their record at 2-2 along the way.
“I embrace it honestly. It’s another opportunity. It’s nothing new to me. I’ve played seven years,” says Adams, who joined the Titans two weeks ago from the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad. “I just love playing football and I just want to help the team win as much as I can. So whenever they call my number, I’m going to be ready and perform to the standard that is expected.” Adams was credited with five tackles in Sunday’s win.
Schobert, who was signed to the practice squad after linebacker Zach Cunningham went down against Las Vegas with an elbow injury, was elevated for Sunday’s game and made a big contribution. A week after being at home in Colorado, Schobert forced a Jonathan Taylor fumble that cornerback Kristian Fulton recovered to stop a Colts drive.
Schobert, who has played for Cleveland, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh in his six-year career, says he was just waiting for any type of opportunity to come along.
“Any opportunity for me to get in somewhere and help a team out, I was going to try and take it and be able to help,” he says. “It was a weird offseason. I was just kind of sitting and waiting for the phone to ring for an opportunity to get back in a building.”
Schobert adds he noticed when he arrived at the Titans complex the culture of success that is expected, something that probably plays a role in the team’s ability to weather the storms.
“There’s confidence about the building. Everybody carries themselves a certain way. This coaching staff and players have been in a successful situation, and they know how to carry themselves and conduct themselves,” he says.
While Schobert, Adams, Edwards and other latecomers may be new to the Titans, chances are they could soon have company. The Titans had more injuries on Sunday, as outside linebacker Bud Dupree reinjured his hip and rookie receiver Treylon Burks was on crutches and in a walking boot with a foot injury.
If more reinforcements are needed, Vrabel says the Titans are ready to do whatever they have to do.
“I don’t have anything to compare it to except for last year, I guess,” Vrabel says. “You know, we’ll get on the phone, and I know we’ve got some guys on the practice squad that are itching to play and might get an opportunity.”