The Titans were on busy on Saturday with respect to roster decisions. Among the many moves made on Saturday was defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons and linebackers Jack Gibbens and Luke Gifford being placed on injured reserve.
Players moved to IR are required to miss at least four weeks. Since the Titans have been eliminated from postseason contention, the news confirms that trio will not see the field again in 2023. The loss of Simmons and Gibbens in particular will deal a signficant blow to Tennessee’s defense to close out the season. The Titans’ special teams unit will also be notably weaker without Gifford in the fold.
Simmons has already missed the past two games due to a knee injury. Head coach Mike Vrabel made it clear a multi-week absence would be on tap, so with the Titans out of contention it comes as little surprise that they will shut him down for the rest of the year. 2024 will mark his next action; it also represents the beginning of his four-year, $94MM extension signed this offseason.
The 26-year-old was one of many young defensive tackles who earned a substantial raise, and he maintained his status as an impact defender this season. Simmons racked up 44 tackles (including 10 for loss) along with 5.5 sacks in 2023. Especially with Teair Tart out of the picture, Tennessee’s D-line will look much different to close out the year.
Gibbens did enough last season to earn a signficant role in 2023. The former UDFA logged a 66% snap share on defense this season, starting 13 of his 14 appearances. Gibbens totaled 92 tackles (which ranked second on the team), proving his value as a key member of the Titans’ front seven. He is a pending exclusive rights free agent, and it will be interesting to see how the team handles his financial future given the impact he made this year.
Gifford joined Tennessee this offseason on a two-year, $4MM deal. As was the case during his Cowboys tenure, he was used almost exclusively on special teams in his debut Titans campaign. Gifford saw a career-high 83% snap share in the third phase, compared to just eight total defensive snaps. He could have seen a more diverse workload in Gibbens’ absence, but instead he will join safety Amani Hooker in being shelved for the final weeks of the season.
To fill the open roster spots, the Titans announced the signings of linebacker JoJo Domann, along with offensive linemen John Ojukwu and Andrew Rupcich. All three were on the team’s practice squad, and they will now have the opportunity to see game action as Tennessee’s injury list continues to grow.