Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel is considering using wide receiver A.J. Brown in the return game on Saturday.
The Tennessee Titans could look to try something new against the New England Patriots on Saturday in the wild card game, as head coach Mike Vrabel is considering using wide receiver A.J. Brown in the return game.
Vrabel was asked about possibly using Brown on punts this Saturday, and while he didn’t confirm one way or the other if he definitely well, the Titans’ head coach is certainly thinking about it, per ESPN’s Turron Davenport.
"“It’s something that we’re trying to do to expand his role and try to get A.J. (Brown) an opportunity to get the football in his hands in any way that we can. So, we have ideas that maybe he could return punts, return kicks. Those are things that we would like to and want to see happen. Sometimes, by the way the game goes, or different circumstances, that doesn’t end up happening. I like when players want to do anything they can to help the team outside of maybe what their normal position is.”"
The Titans have dealt with injuries to their return game this season. Wide receiver Adam Humphries, who took over punt return duties after cornerback Adoree’ Jackson struggled, has missed the last four games with an ankle injury.
Fellow wideout Kalif Raymond was handling the return work in Humphries’ absence, but he might not suit up against the Patriots as he continues to deal with a concussion suffered in Week 16. He is questionable on the team’s final injury report.
There’s no doubt Brown has been electric with the ball in his hands, as he’s completed nine plays of 40 yards or more this season, good enough for tops in the NFL among rookies.
He’s also the first Titans pass-catcher since tight end Delanie Walker in 2015 to finish with 1,000 receiving yards or more in a single season, and the third rookie in franchise history to do so. Adding to that impressive stat, Brown broke the 1,000-yard mark with just 52 catches.
In Week 16, Brown took just his third carry of the season and turned it into a 49-yard touchdown run.
The concern with putting an important player like Brown in the return game always comes down to injuries. Anything can happen on punt or kick returns and there’s added risk in putting Brown in those situations when he’s desperately needed in the passing game.
However, it’s also the playoffs and teams are trying by any means necessary to give themselves a better chance to win.
As we’ve seen time and time again, there are few in the NFL as explosive as Brown when he has the rock and the potential Brown has to light a fire in a Titans return game that has been lackluster this season might be too much for Vrabel to pass up.