What to make of Julio Jones returning to the Tennessee Titans offense

Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean)
Tennessee Titans (Mandatory Credit: The Tennessean) /

Perhaps no storyline has been more disappointing for the Tennessee Titans this season than the play of Julio Jones. Or lack thereof.

He was expected to come in and be the threat that put the team’s offense over the top, but as many feared, his time in Tennessee has been overshadowed by a hamstring injury.

He has only played in seven games this season, and his games against the Seahawks and Rams were the only times where he played meaningful snaps from beginning to end.

It got to the point where the team decided to put him on injured reserve in order to give him a month to really recover and try to heal his hamstring so that he could make an impact when he returned.

Jones made his return to the lineup on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. For Tennessee Titans fans, it was a relief to see him back out there without any of the previous issues re-appearing.

With that first box checked, he has much more to prove, and it starts with making sure that he is consistently dependable.

Tennessee Titans need Julio Jones to play full games without setbacks

In Sunday’s game against the Jaguars, Jones racked up only four receptions for 33 yards. That is not great on the surface, but then you realize he only played 45 percent of the snaps, which was the second-lowest amount he has played in a game this year.

Presumably, the Titans played him for so little of the time to make sure they do not rush him back into too heavy of a role so quickly and thus risk re-injuring his hamstring.

It makes sense for obvious reasons, and Jones said after the game that he felt good throughout the entirety of the contest. He even hinted that he would have preferred to play more snaps because he felt so good going into the game and playing in it.

It goes without saying that if the Titans are to be as successful as they want to be on offense moving forward, Jones will have to play at least 75 percent of snaps per game.

Until he is able to do that, his overall health will remain a question, and that is obviously the first step to making sure that he is able to make the impact everyone hoped he would make.

Now in terms of his production in his first game back, there is reason to be more optimistic. He caught the ball four times while playing less than half of the offensive snaps, and you also have to account for him dealing with some rust after sitting for so many games.

As far as his own performance, it was satisfactory, and we can live with that given the circumstances. For some more context, despite the low snap count he had was tied for first in receptions by a Titans player and he had the second-longest reception of the day for Tennessee behind Geoff Swaim who had a 26-yarder on a well-timed screen pass.

We just have to hope that the Titans were using this game to get his feet wet again before they feel comfortable putting him in a bigger role. But if it is a sign of things to come in the remaining four games of the season, this might end up as one of the more disappointing trades in the Jon Robinson era due to uncontrollable circumstances.