August 28, 2018 / 2:03 AM / 3 months ago

Titans' Walker confident he'll play in opener

Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker told reporters Monday he remains “very confident” he’ll be ready for the Sept. 9 season opener despite likely sitting out the whole preseason.

FILE PHOTO: Oct 26, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) catches a pass and rushes for a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the second half at LP Field. Texans won 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Walker has not practiced since limping off the field on Aug. 16 with what’s believed to be a foot or toe injury. The Titans, who have been extremely tight-lipped about injuries under new head coach Mike Vrabel, have said only that Walker was evaluated for a lower-body injury.

The 13-year veteran told reporters Monday “it hurts that I am not out there,” but added he doesn’t feel the need to play in the preseason at this stage in his career.

Walker, 34, played in all 16 games last season despite sustaining a sprained ankle in October. He has now played in 168 of a possible 176 games over the past 11 seasons. Walker topped 60 catches and 800 yards for the fourth consecutive year in 2017, and he signed a two-year contract extension in July.

Meanwhile, Titans veteran wideout Rishard Matthews and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo returned to practice Monday for the first time since July. Matthews had missed all of training camp after reportedly undergoing a procedure to repair the meniscus in his knee, but he was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Sunday. Orakpo sustained an apparent shoulder injury on the second day of camp and had not practiced since.

Orakpo’s health is particularly notable because his counterpart starter, Derrick Morgan, and second-round rookie Harold Landry are both dealing with injuries of their own. Morgan reportedly had a procedure on his knee in early August and could miss multiple regular-season games. Landry — who is expected to rotate in as a pass-rushing specialist early on — was seen in a walking boot after Saturday’s preseason game, having apparently injured his ankle on a special teams play.

Vrabel did not offer any further details on Landry’s status Monday, but he did tell reporters he doesn’t regret playing Landry on special teams.

“We’re never going to second-guess where we put guys,” Vrabel said. “He’s going to need to help the team on special teams and be a productive member of that unit.”

Elsewhere, the team’s first-round pick from April, inside linebacker Rashaan Evans, told reporters Monday that he fully expects to be ready for the regular-season opener at Miami.

Evans, whose injury remains undisclosed, experienced an apparent setback in his brief return to practice last week. He took three reps in individual drills before sitting, and that remains his only in-practice action since July 28.

—Field Level Media

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