The Titans confirmed on Monday they will not have Delanie Walker for the rest of this season. They placed their most consistent pass-catcher on IR, and he won’t be returning in 2018, Terry McCormick of TitansOnline.com tweets.
Walker suffered extensive leg damage in Tennessee’s loss Sunday, being carted off the field because of a dislocated ankle. The injuries are even worse, it turns out, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting Monday (via Twitter) Walker suffered a broken ankle and has ligament damage.
Tennessee will promote tight end MyCole Pruitt from its practice squad to replace Walker on the active roster.
This is a brutal blow to a Titans team that’s counted on Walker for years. Despite Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce‘s brilliance, no NFL tight end’s caught more than Walker’s 360 passes since he signed with the Titans in 2013 (h/t Field Yates of ESPN.com, on Twitter). The former Central Missouri standout’s exceeded 800 yards in each of the past four seasons. He was expected to play a key role again for a Titans team transitioning to a new offense and one that doesn’t have a wide receiver as dependable as its tight end.
Walker signed a two-year, $17MM extension in July, but this injury may affect his status as a top-tier tight end. Walker will turn 35 before next season, which would be his 14th in the league. He authored a unique breakout during his age-29 season in 2013 and didn’t begin that 800-plus-yard receiving streak until he was 30. Walker had previously played at least 15 games in each of his five Titans seasons.
In the meantime, Jonnu Smith now steps into the Titans’ top tight end role. A 2017 third-rounder out of Florida International, Smith caught 18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. More will be expected of the 23-year-old target now.
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