Less than 24 hours after being carted off the field in Miami, Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker has been placed on injured reserve with a broken ankle.
After a myriad of delays, the Tennessee Titans lost to the Miami Dolphins 27-20. In the process, the Titans lost QB Marcus Mariota and LT Taylor Lewan to injuries throughout the game, which crippled the offense. Late in the game, with Tennessee down 10 points and under four minutes to play, TE Delanie Walker caught a pass and rumbled forward. Dolphins S T.J. McDonald attempted to tackle him and Walker’s sheer power made McDonald’s body contort in an awkward way, forcing McDonald to fall into Walker’s legs while bringing him down. Once the play ended, Walker was down and writhing in pain, with his ankle turned in a direction that is unnatural.
Walker had to be carted off the field with his lower leg in an air cast, and it was pretty clear that his season was in serious jeopardy. While Titans fans held out hope, Ian Rapaport tweeted out last night that Walker had dislocated his ankle, which came with an associated fracture. On Monday afternoon, the Titans officially confirmed the bad news and placed Walker on IR, signaling the end of his season.
Walker’s loss can’t be overstated: He was one of the three most important players on the Titans offense, either behind or ahead of Lewan and Mariota. A stellar blocker and matchup nightmare on the receiving end, Walker made the offense click and was Mariota’s most-trusted target in crucial situations. He was set up to have a huge season as the middle-of-the-field read in a friendly, rhythm-based offense. Unfortunately, the veteran’s season was cut short, and he will have a long road back to recovery as a 34-year-old with multiple years of wear-and-tear on his body. Knowing Walker’s drive and work ethic, though, it’d be foolish to count out a return for 2019.
The Titans’ corresponding move was to sign TE MyCole Pruitt from the Houston Texans’ practice squad. With the Texans coming to town on Sunday, this could be strictly an “intel” move, but Pruitt has some intriguing upside. He consistently flashed in the preseason in the past for the Minnesota Vikings and is an absurd athlete (just look at his athletic profile).
Despite Pruitt signing, TEs Jonnu Smith and Luke Stocker will carry the load in Walker’s absence. Preseason standout Anthony Firkser could also get a look. Walker is irreplaceable, but the New England Patriots won a Super Bowl without TE Rob Gronkowski not too long ago. The Titans aren’t the Patriots, but every team has to deal with injuries. It’s time for other players to step up, particularly the young Smith.