Mike Vrabel thinks Jeffery Simmons took a huge step as a leader last season

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Defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons tore his ACL while preparing for the 2019 draft, but neither the injury nor the fact that he’d miss time as a rookie kept the Titans from making him a first-round pick.

Simmons was able to get on the field for the second half of his rookie season and he started all 15 games he played during his second year with the team. He had 49 tackles, three sacks, 14 quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries in those appearances.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that he likes the way Simmons is “always around the football” while discussing the growth he’s seen from Simmons and what he thinks comes next.

“Just continue to develop and work the techniques that we feel like are best for him,” Vrabel said, via the team’s website. “I think mentally, he took a huge step as a leader, as a presence on our defense and on our football team. Just being able to withstand the rigors of the season. It is a long season, there’s a lot of bodies that bang on him. Those are things that we look at for Jeff.”

The Titans brought in Bud Dupree and Denico Autry as free agents in hopes of boosting the production of their defensive front seven. Continued growth for Simmons would be a big plus to that effort as well.