Jordan Wilkins

Titans Claim DB Lonnie Johnson Jr.

The Titans claimed a player off waivers and acquired a player via trade today. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter), the Titans have claimed defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. off waivers from the Chiefs. Meanwhile, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com reports (on Twitter) that the Titans have acquired safety Tyree Gillespie from the Raiders.

The Chiefs traded a 2024 conditional seventh-round pick to acquire Johnson back in May, but they ended up dumping the defensive back yesterday (while also, presumably, retaining their draft pick). The former second-round pick had spent the first three seasons of his career in Houston, but he found himself in and out of the starting lineup. He started only 19 of his 44 games during his time with the Texans, collecting 172 tackles.

This past season, Johnson started seven of his 14 games while collecting 55 tackles and three interceptions. While he played mostly cornerback to begin his career, Pro Football Focus graded him as a safety in 2021…and they graded him as the worst player at the position. However, he did show some promise in his rush defense score.

Meanwhile, Gillespie was acquired from Las Vegas for a late-round conditional draft pick, according to Wilson (on Twitter). The safety was selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft but barely saw the field as a rookie. He ended up getting into 11 games, collecting eight tackles while primarily appearing on special teams.

The Titans weren’t finished making moves today. As they trimmed their roster down to the 85-man limit, the Titans waived receiver Josh Malone, running back Jordan Wilkins, defensive back Deante Burton, defensive lineman Haskell Garrett, offensive lineman Carson Green, and defensive back Elijah Benton.

Latest On Titans’ RB Competition

The Titans’ offense has undergone a number of changes this offseason, but the unit’s catalyst will once again be in place for the start of the upcoming season. Derrick Henry is poised to handle a heavy workload as always, but there is much to be sorted out regarding the rest of the position’s depth chart. 

In a breakdown of the unit heading into training camp, Jim Wyatt of the team’s website details the many moves Tennessee has made in recent months, including re-signing veterans Jordan Wilkins and Dontrell HilliardThe latter showed promise while filling in for Henry after his midseason injury last year. Hilliard registered the first five starts of his career late in 2021, and averaged an impressive 6.3 yards per carry. His success (albeit in a limited capacity) earned the former UDFA another deal with the Titans.

While Hilliard could be in line for the main backup role left open by the departure of D’Onta Foreman, he will be facing competition from several other backs for playing time. Outside of Wilkins and free agent addition Trenton Cannon, that could come most from Hassan Haskins. The fourth-rounder raised his draft stock with a stellar 2021 campaign at Michigan, in which he led the Big Ten in carries and total touchdowns, ranking second in the conference with 1,327 rushing yards. Given his status as a rookie, and the role he played in helping the Wolverines to the CFB playoffs, Haskins’ spot on the roster in some capacity is likely secure.

As a result, Wyatt notes, Hilliard, Wilkins and Cannon could find themselves competing over one spot on the 53-man roster. The presence of fullback Tory Carter and the fact that Henry, when healthy, will operate as a workhorse limits the path each has to a full-time spot. Given the question marks currently surrounding the Titans’ pass-catching corps, however, the way the RB depth chart shakes out in camp will be significant.

Titans Re-Sign CB Skrine, RB Wilkins

The Titans are bringing back two of their minor free agents who joined the team last season. According to Josh Alper of NBC Sports, the team has re-signed cornerback Buster Skrine and running back Jordan Wilkins.

After starting the season in San Francisco, Skrine was picked up by the Titans after being released. The Titans are Skrine’s fourth team since entering the league in 2011. In six games with the team, Skrine contributed 17 tackles and an interception.

Wilkins was a late-season addition to the Titans’ practice squad. Wilkins started his career in Indianapolis after being drafted in the fifth round out of Ole Miss. He served as the team’s primary back up running back, spelling Marlon Mack during his absences. Wilkins was released by the Colts in October last season and spent a month on the Jaguars’ practice squad before ultimately landing in Tennessee. He will have a chance to earn a spot on a depth chart that currently includes Derrick Henry and Trenton Cannon.

After signing tight end Austin Hooper and releasing wide receiver Julio Jones this week, Tennessee is clearly in the process of giving the roster some Spring cleaning. The Titans close out their week bringing back a rotation corner and a familiar face at running back to compete with Cannon for the back up position.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/8/22

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Latest On Titans’ Backfield Situation

Although a Derrick Henry return in Week 18 surfaced as a possibility weeks ago, the Titans will remain cautious with the two-time reigning rushing champion.

Tennessee will not activate Henry from IR on Saturday, keeping him shelved until the playoffs. The Titans designated Henry for return this week, giving them options moving forward. Henry’s ramp-up period can last up until before the AFC championship game, should the Titans’ season extend that far. But the team has long been preparing to have its top weapon ready to go before that point.

Henry has been out since suffering a Jones fracture in his foot in Week 8. The Titans initially struggled to pick up the pieces, and they moved on from Adrian Peterson fairly quickly. However, the AFC South champs have since seen D’Onta Foreman — also a midseason pickup following Henry’s injury — begin to establish himself as a starter. Foreman has notched three 100-yard games over his past five. Should Henry indeed return to action in the playoffs, Foreman would stand to be a key off-the-bench performer.

For now, however, the Titans are reshuffling their backfield. One of the early candidates to replace Henry, Jeremy McNichols, is no longer on the roster. The Titans waived the veteran backup Saturday and promoted Jordan Wilkins from their practice squad. A former Colts fifth-round pick, Wilkins caught on with the Titans after a midseason Indianapolis exit. He joins Dontrell Hilliard alongside Foreman on Tennessee’s active roster.

Wilkins topped 5.5 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons, playing behind Marlon Mack, and eclipsed 300 rushing yards in each of his first three. Now rostering the NFL’s rushing leader in Jonathan Taylor, the Colts dropped Wilkins this season. A former Buccaneers fifth-round pick who also spent time with the Colts, McNichols has been with the Titans for the past two seasons. He is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry this year, on 41 totes, and saw Foreman take over the backfield down the stretch.

The Titans also promoted defensive linemen Da’Shawn Hand and Kevin Strong on Saturday. The team has a chance to clinch home-field advantage for the first time since 2008 Sunday. A win over the Texans would secure Tennessee the AFC’s No. 1 seed. This would obviously be beneficial for both the Titans and Henry. The Chiefs would recapture the conference’s top slot with a win over the Broncos today and a subsequent Titans loss.

Titans Add RB Jordan Wilkins To Practice Squad

As the Titans continue to roll forward without Derrick Henry, the team has added another running back option. The team announced that they’ve signed running back Jordan Wilkins to the taxi squad.

Wilkins was a fifth-round pick by the Colts in 2018, and he saw time in 45 games (four starts) through his first three seasons in the NFL. The running back had at least 350 yards from scrimmage in each of his first three NFL seasons, including a 2020 campaign where he collected 413 yards and one touchdown on a career-high 96 touches. Wilkins saw time in each of Indy’s first four games this season, with the majority of his snaps coming on special teams. He was waived by the team back in October, and he’s since had a brief stint on the Jaguars practice squad.

The Titans have cycled through a number of options at running back since Henry suffered an injury in Week 8. D’Onta Foreman, Adrian Peterson, and Dontrell Hilliard have all started games for Tennessee, while fellow RB Jeremy McNichols has 43 touches of his own.

The Titans made a handful of additional practice squad moves today, including the signing of defensive back Rodney Clemons. The former SMU standout went undrafted during the 2020 draft, and he spent much of his rookie season on the Chiefs practice squad. To make room on the practice squad, the Titans released running back Rodney Smith and placed linebacker Jamal Carter on the practice squad injured list.

Jaguars Add WR John Brown To Practice Squad

The Jaguars have added two notable offensive players to their practice squad. The team signed wideout John Brown and running back Jordan Wilkins to the p-squad, the team announced. The organization also released running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. from the practice squad.

Brown spent the offseason with the Raiders but was part of the team’s final cuts. He later caught on with the Broncos and got into two games with the squad, although he was limited to only 12 offensive snaps. The 31-year-old had a 1,000-yard season as recently as 2019, so there’s a chance he still has something left in the tank. The Jaguars have been looking for some reinforcement at receiver since DJ Chark went down with an injury, and Brown will be the latest option they’ll take a look at.

Wilkins was a fifth-round pick by the Colts back in 2018, and he saw time in 45 games through his first three seasons in the NFL. He got 230 touches with Indy, collecting 1,184 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. The 27-year-old was cut by the Colts in late October.

Whyte was a seventh-round pick by the Bears in 2019, and he’s since spent time with the Steelers, Lions, Bills, and Jaguars. He saw time in six games with Pittsburgh, collecting 131 yards from scrimmage. He joined Jacksonville in early October.

Colts Activate DL Dayo Odeyingbo From NFI List, Waive RB Jordan Wilkins

Dayo Odeyingbo suffered a torn Achilles in January but still managed to become a second-round pick. The Colts rookie appears set to make his NFL debut less than eight months later.

The Colts activated Odeyingbo from their non-football injury list Saturday, introducing the prospect of its top two draft picks playing together on the defensive line early. A Vanderbilt product viewed as a player who can line up at both defensive end and D-tackle, Odeyingbo went down while training for the draft. Like Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in 2019, Odeyingbo is set to see rookie-year action after suffering a major injury during the winter.

Indianapolis selected defensive end Kwity Paye in the first round and followed that up by selecting Odeyingbo in Round 2. The team let Denico Autry defect to Tennessee in free agency and did not re-sign Justin Houston. The Paye-Odeyingbo pair represents the Colts’ hopeful replacements. Odeyingbo, who goes 6-foot-6 and 276 pounds, recorded 12 tackles for loss as a junior with the Commodores and added 5.5 sacks as a senior. Paye has yet to record a sack in four-plus games played this season but has recovered two fumbles.

Among the other roster moves the Colts made before this afternoon’s Week 8 deadline, the team cut running back Jordan Wilkins. A 2018 draftee, Wilkins has backed up Marlon Mack and then Jonathan Taylor for more than three seasons. But fellow 2018 pick Nyheim Hines‘ passing-down and special teams ability won out, moving Hines higher on the depth chart and leading to an extension. Wilkins still saw sporadic time in the backfield from 2018-20 and resides as an interesting waiver option.

Wilkins averaged 5.6 yards per carry as a rookie and 6.0 per tote in 2019, seeing increased time when Mack missed games with injuries. The former fifth-round pick was not as efficient last season (3.7 per carry on a career-high 84 handoffs) and has not received a carry this year. Still, with the Colts previously placing Mack on the trade block, this Wilkins cut is an interesting decision.

The Colts promoted running back Deon Jackson and safety Josh Jones to their active roster and activated linebacker Jordan Glasgow from IR. Indianapolis also waived defensive tackle Khalil Davis.

Colts Sign First-Round Pick Quenton Nelson

The Colts have officially signed the bulk of their draft class. On Friday, the team announced deals with the following picks: 

The Colts wound up with an oversized draft class of eleven players, but they have only two rookies left to sign. Once second round linebacker Darius Leonard and second round guard Braden Smith put pen to paper, they’ll be done.

Nelson was widely regarded as one of the best overall talents in this year’s draft, but the early run on quarterbacks helped guide him to the Colts at No. 6. Frankly, that worked out great for the Colts as they desperately need to protect quarterback Andrew Luck this season. The QB fever allowed Chris Ballard to land this year’s top rated offensive lineman in the draft while adding two 2018 second-round picks and a 2019 second-round choice from the Jets as he moved down from No. 3 to No. 6. It’s too early to grade any team’s draft, but everyone can agree that the Colts did well for themselves in terms of value.

Nelson, a 6’5″, 235-pound lineman, boasts tremendous power and the ability to act as a double team blocker. Many feel that Nelson is one of the best bets to succeed out of this year’s top 10.

He’s so unique because he’s big, but he’s not fat. He’s one of the best run blockers I’ve ever evaluated, but he’s not a liability in pass protection like Mike Iupati is,” one NFC team personnel executive told NFL.com before the draft. “He’s also an alpha who can bring and ass-kicking mindset into your position room.”

Draft Notes: Panthers, Penny, Impact Rooks

With their first-round pick, the Panthers ended up selecting Maryland wideout D.J. Moore. However, General Manager Marty Hurney told SiriusXM’s Bruce Murray and Brady Quinn that his team was considering several players with the pick, including Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley.

“Basically what we did, coming into the draft, we had a group of about five guys that we would be very happy with at 24 and we got our pick and three of those guys were there and it was a hard decision between Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore,” Hurney said. “I think that the difference to us is, and we think they’re both excellent wide receivers, is just D.J. Moore gives us a little different skill set than we had.”

Let’s check out some more draft notes from around the league…

  • Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller touched on a number of topics during his post-draft review. Notably, the reporter noted that the most surprising first-round selection was San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, who was taken by the Seahawks with the 27th pick. Miller notes that opposing teams didn’t value Penny as highly, and the reporter said the highest team grade (outside of Seattle) rated the running back as a second-rounder.
  • Miller reports that several players failed drug tests, causing them to fall in the draft or go undrafted. This grouping included cornerback Holton Hill, offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, and wideout Antonio Callaway.
  • ESPN’s Mel Kiper looked at several late-round rookies who could immediately make an impact with their new squad. Offensively, Kiper pointed to Patriots wideout Braxton Berrios, Colts running backs Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, and Steelers “Swiss Army knife” Jaylen Samuels. Defensively, Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, Eagles pass rusher Josh Sweat, Rams linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo led Kiper’s list.