Taylor Lewan

Titans Activate T Taylor Lewan

Taylor Lewan is back on the Titans’ 53-man roster. The team activated its left tackle starter on Friday, placing running back David Fluellen on IR in a corresponding move.

Tennessee’s sixth-year cornerstone blocker failed a PED test, causing him to miss his first games since the 2015 season. Going into this year, the former first-round pick had not missed more than one game in a season since his 2014 rookie year.

The Titans gave Lewan a five-year, $80MM extension in 2018. Because the Raiders moved Trent Brown back to right tackle, Lewan’s deal still tops the left tackle market. He has made the past three Pro Bowls and operates as a central piece of the Titans’ run-based offense. Dennis Kelly filled in for Lewan during the season’s first quarter.

Seeing Titans action for a third straight season, Fluellen has been limited by a knee injury. He played in Tennessee’s first and fourth games this season. While Fluellen could come back in December, his status as Tennessee’s third-string back may not make him a priority IR-return candidate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Reach 53-Man Limit

The Titans reached the 53-man limit on Saturday, mostly via cuts. They did, however, free up one roster spot by trading Taywan Taylor to the Browns.

Among the more notable cuts – quarterback Logan Woodside, running back Jeremy McNichols, and offensive lineman Corey Levin.

Here’s the complete rundown of the Titans’ Saturday slashing:

Waived/released:

OL Hroniss Grasu
OL Austin Pasztor
TE Ryan Hewitt
DB Kenneth Durden
DB D’Andre Payne
DB JoJo Tillery
DB Michael Jordan
DB Kareem Orr
DB LaDarius Wiley
DL Chris Nelson
DL Braxton Hoyett
DL Frank Herron
DL Amani Bledsoe
LB Derick Roberson
LB Ukeme Eligwe
LB Quart’e Sapp
LB LaTroy Lewis
LB Eric Cotton
OL A.T. Hall
OL Aaron Stinnie
OL Corey Levin
OL Tyler Marz
P Austin Barnard
QB Logan Woodside
RB Akeem Hunt
RB Jeremy McNichols
RB Alex Barnes
TE Parker Hesse
WR DeAngelo Yancey
WR Anthony Ratliff-Williams
WR Papi White
WR Cody Hollister
WR Tanner McEvoy

Reserve/NFI:
DL Jeffery Simmons

Suspended:
LT Taylor Lewan

Titans’ Taylor Lewan Loses Appeal

Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan has officially been suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, according to a team announcement. Lewan was first hit with the ban late last month and the official denial of his appeal means that he will be out for the first four games of the season. 

Lewan vehemently denied the use of PEDs and even said that he took a polygraph test to prove his innocence. Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t enough to sway those in charge.

It’s a really horrible situation to feel like this, and to walk into the locker room and tell those guys you’re not going to be with them for four games – it breaks my heart,” Lewan said last month. “It’s tough, man. But I’ve been very candid with [GM] Jon (Robinson) and [head coach] (Mike) Vrabel and [owner] Amy (Adams Strunk) and told them right away. I don’t want the legacy, or whatever I have done in the last five years, to be tarnished because of this, because of something like this, that was a complete accident that I’m going to try and make up for.”

According to the league, Lewan popped positive for ostarine, which is used to combat muscle wasting. Lewan, meanwhile, says he didn’t “knowingly” take anything to skirt the rules.

Lewan will be eligible to play for the first time in 2019 on October 6 vs. the Bills.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Texans, Titans, Lewan, Panthers

While it’s still unclear exactly how the Texans will configure their offensive line in 2019, the front five does appear to be rounding into form. At recent practices, Matt Kalil has been taking first-team reps at left tackle while rookie first-round pick Tytus Howard plays left guard, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Zach Fulton is filling in at center for the injured Nick Martin, but once Martin returns, Fulton will continue to battle second-rounder Max Scharping for time at right guard, and the veteran holds the edge in that battle, per Wilson. Seantrel Henderson, who hasn’t started more than one game in a season since 2015, is the top man at right tackle. Houston’s offensive line was one of the NFL’s worst in 2018, ranking 27th in adjusted line yards and dead last in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • After suffering a fractured and dislocated ankle last September, Titans tight end Delanie Walker is working his way back to full strength. Walker expects to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, and in excellent news, he’s likely to play in Tennessee’s second preseason contest, tweets Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. The 35-year-old posted at least 60 receptions and 800 yards in each season from 2014-17, and he’s likely to be a featured part of the Titans offense once again in 2019. Signed to a two-year, $17MM extension last summer, Walker is under contract through 2020.
  • Panthers defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. was cited on Wednesday for speeding, possession of marijuana, and possession of paraphernalia, reports Blaine Tolison of WSOC (Twitter link). In a statement, the Panthers said they are aware of the incident and are working to gather information (Twitter link via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic). Cos has appeared in 18 games for Carolina over the past two years, playing roughly 200 snaps in each season. In his latest roster projection, David Newton of ESPN.com left Cox off the Panthers’ 53-man squad.
  • Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan will formally appeal his four-game suspension on August 22, per Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (Twitter link). Lewan was dealt a ban after violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, but he’s been adamant in his claims that he didn’t purposefully ingest a banned substance, and even took a polygraph test. However, as recent failed appeals by Golden Tate and Robert Quinn have shown, the NFL’s drug policy is extremely unforgiving.

AFC South Notes: Henry, Lewan, Jags, Texans

Mystery still surrounds the extent of Titans running back Derrick Henry‘s leg injury, but as of now, there is no official timetable for when to expect the bruising back to return to the field, Titans online’s Jim Wyatt tweets.

The big back has missed a few days of training camp with the injury and was seen in a walking boot. Many do not expect the injury to be a serious one, but it does have an ominous feel to it after the team announced him as day-to-day on Saturday.

After taking over down the stretch in 2018, the former Alabama running back was expected to enter 2019 as the unquestioned workhorse. We will see if those plans are affected by the latest injury, but Tennessee has the likes of Dion Lewis waiting in the wings.

Here’s more from around the AFC South:

  • Titans offensive lineman Taylor Lewan‘s four-game suspension will cost him $3.4MM in base salary, Paul Kuharsky writes. In addition to the base salary, the Titans also be able recoup part of his signing bonus. Lewan was suspension earlier this week for violated the league’s PED policy.
  • Since Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue has held out of camp for four days, he’s currently facing a fine of $160,000, ESPN’s Michael DiRocco tweets. That brings his total fine to $248,650 due to him missing mandatory minicamp. The fourth-year defensive end is expected to report back to the team in early August as he looks for a long-term deal.
  • Texans head coach Bill O’Brien confirmed Lamar Miller is the team’s lead back but the other spots behind him are wide open, ESPN’s Sarah Barshop tweets. Behind Miller, Houston boasts a large collection of unproven backs looking to make an impact, led by D’Onta Foreman.

Titans LT Taylor Lewan Suspended 4 Games

The Titans just got dealt a big blow as training camps across the league open. Starting left tackle Taylor Lewan announced on Twitter that he’ll be suspended for the first four games of the season.

In a video explaining what happened, Lewan said he unknowingly took a substance banned by the league. Lewan forcefully denied taking it on purpose, and said he even took a polygraph test to prove it, the results of which he’ll be publishing shortly. Either way, it’s a huge loss for Tennessee.

Lewan has been a rock for them, starting at least 15 games in each of the past four seasons. Lewan filled in for six games as a rookie due to injuries, then took over the full-time starting job in his second year. He originally entered the league as the 11th overall pick back in 2014 and has blossomed into one of the league’s better tackles since, making the Pro Bowl in each of the past three seasons.

The Michigan product signed a five-year extension last summer that made him the highest paid offensive lineman in league history. The Titans open up the season with the Browns, Colts, Jaguars, and Falcons. While Lewan already announced the news himself, there is apparently a sliver of hope. Lewan’s ‘A’ sample tested positive, but his ‘B’ sample hasn’t come back from the lab yet, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). If the ‘B’ result comes back clean, Lewan could potentially be spared.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Davis, Vea, Pats, Lamp, Colts

Prior to Vontae Davis‘ now-infamous halftime retirement, the 10-year NFL veteran cornerback told Bills defensive backs coach John Butler, “I’m done” while he was in uniform late in the first half. This one-sided conversation, per Davis (via The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth), occurred in the final minute of the half. Lafayette Pitts replaced Davis in the game and ended up having to play a larger role after halftime once Davis did not return for the second half.

I didn’t expect them to understand,” Davis said, via Foxworth, of his teammates’ reaction to his abrupt NFL exit. “That moment was shocking to me as well. … My intention was not to hurt my teammates. In that moment, my intuition was telling me I don’t belong on that field anymore.”

The Bills received a roster exemption after the 30-year-old defender’s retirement, and they placed Davis on the reserve/left squad list, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. While Davis sounds about as far away from a player who’d attempt a comeback, his placement on this list would not allow it — with the Bills or another team — this season.

Shifting back to some active NFLers, here’s what’s new going into Week 3:

  • Jack Conklin‘s 2018 debut is unlikely to take place Sunday, Titans insider Paul Kuharsky tweets. In the final part of his recovery process from a torn ACL sustained in January, Conklin appears likelier to suit up in Week 4 against the Eagles than Sunday against the Jaguars. The Titans didn’t have Conklin nor Taylor Lewan in Week 2, but Tennessee’s left tackle has been cleared to return from a concussion he sustained in the season opener. Swing tackle Dennis Kelly, however, remains out. An illness forced Kelly to be hospitalized before last weekend’s game.
  • Another AFC South tackle won’t play Sunday, but Anthony Castonzo‘s second hamstring setback in as many months has not caused the Colts to consider placing him on IR. Indianapolis’ left tackle remains week-to-week in his recovery, Frank Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer, on Twitter). Were Castonzo to land on IR, he would not be able to return for eight weeks.
  • Three Patriots deemed unlikely to play will, in fact, sit out New England’s Week 3 game in Detroit. The Patriots announced Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe are out against the Lions. The team did not declare Marcus Cannon or Josh Gordon out. Cannon returned to practice this week and made progress, pointing to the right tackle’s return.
  • Vita Vea‘s calf strain will delay his debut for another week. The Buccaneers‘ first-round pick is out for Monday night’s Steelers game, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Vea did practice on Saturday, doing so for the first time in a month, so the defensive tackle’s NFL debut appears imminent.
  • The Chargers continue to bring Forrest Lamp along slowly. The 2017 second-round pick has not yet debuted, and Anthony Lynn said (via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times) Lamp isn’t ready for action yet. “It’s just that Forrest was an athletic guard,” Lynn said. “He moved a lot and we pulled him in space. He doesn’t feel that speed yet. He feels like he’s a step behind.” Lamp tore an ACL a few days into his rookie training camp and underwent an arthroscopic procedure in May. The Bolts are already down Joe Barksdale for another week. They’ve been playing guard-tackle Michael Schofield in Lamp’s spot, and Sam Tevi started in Barksdale’s right tackle position last week in Buffalo.

AFC Injury Notes: Titans, Ben, Berry, Bolts

Marcus Mariota experienced difficulty gripping the ball after suffering a Week 1 elbow injury, but he could well return for the Titans this week. However, he doesn’t appear to be at full strength. Blaine Gabbert stands to see time as well as an apparent result. Mike Vrabel said he expects to use both of his quarterbacks against the Texans, via Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com (on Twitter). Mariota hasn’t made much progress since his injury in Tennessee’s opener and was still experiencing tingling in his throwing arm as of Wednesday, per Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com, making this an interesting situation for a Titans team with playoff aspirations. If Mariota fails to progress by Sunday, it wouldn’t be hard to envision the Titans sitting him. Gabbert filled in for an injury-ransacked Cardinals team last season, making five starts (including a 12-7 win over the Titans). He completed 11 of 22 passes in a loss to the Dolphins last week.

Here’s the latest on the AFC injury front heading into Week 2:

  • A higher-profile AFC passer does look to be in better shape going into Week 2. Ben Roethlisberger practiced fully on Friday, Mike Tomlin said (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter, on Twitter), pointing him toward being available in Sunday’s Steelers-Chiefs tilt. An elbow malady caused Big Ben to miss practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Joshua Dobbs would start against Kansas City if Pittsburgh’s franchise passer can’t go.
  • When Mariota and/or Gabbert take snaps Sunday, they’ll do so with second-string tackles. Jack Conklin won’t be ready to debut, and Taylor Lewan is out as well after suffering a concussion, McCormick notes.
  • Eric Berry‘s ninth NFL season remains on hold while he battles a heel ailment. The All-Pro Chiefs safety did not practice on Friday and is doubtful to suit up in western Pennsylvania on Sunday, per Andy Reid (via Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star, on Twitter). Berry’s battled this heel trouble, on the opposite foot of the torn Achilles he suffered in September 2017, for over a month.
  • As expected, Joey Bosa is out for the Chargers-Bills game Sunday. Right tackle Joe Barksdale won’t suit up, either, ESPN’s Eric Williams tweets. A knee injury’s affecting Barksdale. Sam Tevi is likely to start for the Bolts at right tackle. Second-year defensive end Isaac Rochell replaced Bosa as a starting defensive end last week.

Delanie Walker Expected To Miss Rest Of Season

Delanie Walker was carted off the field during the Titans’ loss to the Dolphins today, and it sounds like the tight end is set to miss the season. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that Walker suffered a dislocated ankle and an “associated fracture.” The reporter says the player’s “season is almost certainly over.”

A season-ending injury would certainly be a tough blow for the Titans, who were set to depend on Walker’s offensive production. The 34-year-old had been named to three straight Pro Bowls, and he finished the 2017 campaign with 74 receptions for 807 yards and three scores. The tight end had hauled in four receptions for 52 yards before suffering the injury.

If Walker indeed misses the entire season, the Titans will likely turn to 2017 third-round Jonnu Smith as a starter. The Titans are also rostering Luke Stocker and Anthony Firkser.

Walker wasn’t the only Titans player to suffer an injury on Sunday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota briefly returned to the contest after suffering an injury in the third quarter, but he ended up sitting out the remainder of the game. The injury was being described as an elbow/shoulder injury, and coach Mike Vrabel said the signal-caller would be reevaluated tomorrow.

“I just couldn’t feel my fingers, couldn’t feel my hand,” Mariota told TitansOnline.com. “It was one of those things where I couldn’t grip the ball and all that stuff.”

Meanwhile, left tackle Taylor Lewan was forced out of the game with a concussion after suffering a massive hit from defensive lineman Andre Branch. The hit sparked a brief fight as Lewan was lying motionless on the ground.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans, Taylor Lewan Agree To $80MM Deal

Taylor Lewan will be a member of the Titans for years to come. On Friday, the two sides agreed to a five-year, $80MM deal, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The deal includes $50MM in guarantees and makes him the highest-paid offensive lineman in history. 

The left tackle stayed away from the club earlier this summer, but he reported to camp this week. Ultimately, Lewan was able to get what he wanted without a costly holdout.

Lewan, who just turned 27, was set to play out the the 2018 season at a cost of $9.341MM before potentially hitting the open market. Now, he’s under contract through 2023 at a much higher rate.

Lewan’s $16MM/year average tops Nate Solder‘s four-year, $62MM free agent deal signed with the Giants back in March. It’s a hefty price to pay, but kicking the can down the road via the franchise tag wasn’t really a viable option for the Titans. Next year’s franchise tag for offensive linemen may cost nearly $15MM and the 20% increase for a second tag would have meant a $17.5-$18MM payout for 2020. In that scenario, the Titans would have been left with no leverage in extension talks (a third tag would be far too expensive) after having shelled out about $33MM.

A first-round pick in 2014, Lewan has been a full-time starter since the 2015 campaign. Overall, he’s appeared in 58 games and made 53 starts for Tennessee. Lewan graded out as the seventh-best tackle in the NFL in 2016 and placed 16th last year, according to Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.