Covid-19 turned Jeffery Simmons from feared defensive lineman to couch potato cheerleader Tuesday when the Tennessee Titans played the Buffalo Bills.
But after being activated from the Covid/reserve list on Thursday, Simmons is ready to resume his rightful place on the Titans defensive line as they prepare for Sunday's game with the Houston Texans.
“I’m feeling great right now actually. I’m just glad to be back with the team. I’m glad to be back in the building around my teammates, the coaching staff and everybody here,” Simmons said. “During that process with the virus, I didn’t really have too many bad symptoms. I lost my taste and smell, but other than that, I felt pretty good during the quarantine period.”
While he was unable to be around his teammates during his time in quarantine, Simmons still got excited and took to Twitter to express himself as the Titans were walloping the Bills, 42-16 after a 16-day layoff between games.
“Watching the game, I saw a team that fought through adversity, a team that was hungry and was tired of everything else and just wanting to play football. That’s what I saw sitting on my couch. Being so excited, I was dang near tweeting play-by-play,” Simmons said.
Simmons said it was a lot of fun watching his teammates. But it wasn't as much fun as returning to practice and playing this Sunday.
“It was so much fun just watching our guys fly around and make plays in every phase of things – offense and defense. I just saw a team with a chip on its shoulder ready to go play ball,” he said.
While Coach Mike Vrabel said that Simmons was playing well before going onto the Covid list with a positive test.
“Jeff was doing a lot of good things in there. We're just trying to get the roster back as close to full strength as we possibly can be,” Vrabel said.
In terms of conditioning, there is a ramp-up process that players who return from the Covid-19 list have to adhere to in terms of their cardiovascular health. Simmons said he is not concerned about becoming tired in his first game back.
“I'm not thinking about how tired I'm going to be. If I get tired, oh well. I'm going to push myself every day I step on this field. I'm going to give my all and be the best I can be, no matter how I feel,” he said. “I'm going full speed into this game. I want to give my all, even though it's a short week. I'm going to push myself with extra conditioning to make sure my conditioning is on top. I'm feeling good and I'm ready to go play ball.”
Simmons, who missed the first six games of his rookie year while recovering from ACL surgery suffered in training for the NFL Draft, said his goal was to play all 16 games this season, but that he had to amend that due to the positive test for the virus.
“As the time got closer to the game, I got more and more anxious, like I really wanted to be on that field. I was like, this can't be real that I'm really missing this game, especially thinking back on all the games I missed last year,” he said. “I didn't want to miss games and that's the thing I told myself this year, I want to play through it, no matter what it is. In the game of football, you're going to have nicks and bruises and all that type of stuff that goes into playing the game. I told myself I was going to tough it out, but adversity hit, and I caught the virus. I tested positive for it, and I had to set aside this game.”
Simmons admits it was fun cheering his team on from afar, but will happily trade it for his regular routine.
“It was so much fun watching this team play, watching my teammates play. The coaches had a great game plan for the Bills, and honestly, I'm just happy to be back,” he said.