Titans’ kicker hopes for midseason return after going on IR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ryan Succop thought his leg had recovered enough for him to kick in the Tennessee Titans’ season opener at Cleveland.
Turns out the veteran needs a few more weeks.
The Titans placed Succop on injured reserve Wednesday and signed veteran Cairo Santos to replace a veteran who hadn’t missed a game in his five seasons with the Titans — a friend and someone Santos beat out for the kicking job in 2014 with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“He’s done well, and I’ll do everything I can to help him jump in and hopefully he can kick well and help us out,” Succop said. “And I think he’ll do a good job.”
Succop, who turns 33 on Sept. 19, hurt his right leg working out at the Titans this offseason and had surgery to clean it up. He started training camp on the physically unable to perform list until Aug. 19 before the Titans’ third preseason game. Succop kicked in the final two preseason games, and the Titans only had punter Austin Barnard in camp to handle kicking duties.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said conversations about Succop had been ongoing. The coach added that he’s focused on Cleveland and has no idea about Succop’s chances of returning this season. Vrabel also liked how Santos responded to teammates like four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey talking trash to him during a field goal period Wednesday.
“I’m very, very confident in the kicker that we signed,” Vrabel said. “Strong leg and very accurate in the workouts that we had. Today I think he was able to earn the respect of his teammates I think, which is critical.”
Succop, a 10-year veteran under contract through 2022, said he didn’t suffer a setback. He just didn’t have the “pop” back in his leg that he needs.
“It wouldn’t be fair to the team for me to try to go out there right now and try to kick because I know I can’t do it right now the way that I need to,” Succop said.
Succop has a powerful leg, converting 86.7 percent of his field-goal attempts (26 of 30) last season. He also set an NFL record connecting on 56 consecutive field goals inside 50 yards between 2014 and 2017. That record started after the Chiefs chose Santos over Succop at the end of the 2014 preseason, and the Titans signed him Sept. 2.
Now Succop will miss his first game since coming to Tennessee. The earliest he could return would be the end of October before the Titans visit Carolina. Succop is hoping to rejoin the active roster after sitting out the first eight weeks.
“This is just a little bump in the road, a little adversity,” Succop said. “I’ll work through it, and come back better and stronger.”
Santos, 27, has five years of NFL kicking experience with the Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay. Last season, Santos kicked for the Rams for two games in October and spent the final seven games with Tampa Bay. He was with the Buccaneers through the preseason before being released.
He has made 83.2 percent of his field-goal attempts (104 of 125) in 62 career games.
Santos said the Titans called him Monday night, and he called Succop to ask about his knee. Santos didn’t handle kickoffs with the Buccaneers this preseason, but Santos said he’s ready to fill in as needed. He has gotten to know holder and punter Brett Kern and long snapper Beau Brinkley in recent years. He’s also a former teammate of receiver Adam Humphries.
“If it’s for eight games until he comes back or throughout the season, I’ll just worry about one game at a time,” Santos said.
Notes: The Titans elected five captains: QB Marcus Mariota, C Ben Jones, Casey, S Kevin Byard and LB Wesley Woodyard. ... RT Jack Conklin (knee) did not practice Wednesday along with LB Reggie Gilbert. Vrabel said Conklin is expected back. LT Dennis Kelly, who missed Monday’s practice, was back and said he was fine.
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