It isn’t unexpected, but the New York Giants defense got something of a gift Tuesday afternoon when the Tennessee Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on the injured reserve.
The #Titans placed T Jack Conklin and TE Jonnu Smith on injured reserve, ending their seasons. Not good.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 11, 2018
Many will remember Conklin as the widely-recognized apple of the Giants’ eye in the 2016 NFL draft, whom the Titans traded up to draft.
Conklin has become a solid right tackle for the Titans, and the loss of his toughness and run blocking acumen will hurt the Titans’ offensive line. Tennessee thrives on Derrick Henry running the ball, and they are a different offense when he isn’t picking up yards on the ground.
They are also tied with the Giants for third in the NFL in sacks given up with 43 on the season. The loss of Conklin could be good news for Lorenzo Carter, Kareem Martin, Kerry Wynn, and whoever else James Bettcher schemes to rush from that side of the defense.
The loss of Smith is big as well. Tennessee frequently runs “12” personnel (two tight end) sets on offense, and Smith has been their best tight end this season. He is also one of Marcus Mariota’s best receiving options, with 20 receptions and three touchdowns on the season.
Losing Smith could force the Titans to change up their game plan and play more three receiver or two back sets (which they have only called 8 times this season) than they would prefer. More likely, they will look down their depth chart and tap the next man up to step up in Smith’s absence.