Jevon Kearse says he is over the frustration of missing all but two plays of the 2002 season thus far.
Now, he just wants to make sure his broken left foot heals properly so he can return to the field and salvage what remains of the season for both himself and the Tennessee Titans.
“The frustrating part came in like the first two or three weeks,” Kearse said. “I’m in the emotion right now of just letting everything work itself out, just letting the bone heal and just get back into the swing of things. I can’t rush it. If I rush it and get back too soon, I could re-injure it.”
The original diagnosis was that Kearse would be out about six-to-eight weeks with the injury. The Titans had hoped to have him back just after this week’s bye week to play Oct. 27 against Cincinnati.
That won’t happen now, and the Titans are cautiously optimistic that Kearse could make it back by their Nov. 10 home game against Houston.
Any possibility of Kearse playing Nov. 3 at Indianapolis is out the window as well, especially given the turf in the RCA Dome. Kearse himself has set no timetable. He is letting his foot do that for him.
“I personally haven’t told anybody that I’ll be back by Nov. 10,” Kearse said. “The coaches might want me back then, the trainers are going to try to get me back by then, but it’s going to come down to how Jevon Kearse feels, if I think I’m healthy enough to go back out there. ... Nov. 10 seems very reasonable.
“They wanted me to be back for the third-down rush against Cincinnati, that was kind of slowed up maybe by like a couple days. Then the fact, maybe like coming back on the turf game, on that hard surface, probably wouldn’t be the brightest thing to do, coming back from an injury like this. So, the Houston game Nov. 10 ... hopefully that will be my welcome back home party.”
Kearse has the blessings of the coaches and training staff to take his time with the healing process, Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday.
“We’re going to let the pain be the criteria. He’s still sore and he’s limping,” Fisher said. “He’s not out of the boot. It’s between the medical staff, the training staff and the player. The medical staff makes estimates, and their judgments are based on case history. And right now, from what they’re telling us, it’s still too soon. He’s still a ways away.”
That part has tested Kearse’s will, because this is the first time at any level of his football career that he has missed any significant time because of injury.
“I missed about a week [once before], but this is the longest one,” Kearse said. “I was totally like bummed out about it, but I have enough people who have been around people who have been injured, or know somebody who has been injured, that they let me know what to expect about rehab, and not rushing back and just doing stuff to get better, but not to set yourself back once you get back.”
Kearse wants to get back to try and help the Titans right the ship after their 2-4 start without him. The coaches know that has taken a mental toll on “The Freak.”
“He’s very, very impatient. He’s such a wound-up guy and such a competitor, and I don’t think he wants to be around here too much because it makes him sick [not to be out there],” defensive line coach Jim Washburn said.
“I’ve had seven or eight bye weeks already,” Kearse said.
“It’s a combination of frustrations because he’s not out there,” Fisher added. “He loves the game, he loves to play and Jevon is so competitive that it’s a psychological burden that you have to deal with. Really there’s only one way to work him through that, and that’s to get back on the practice field. Secondly, there is the difficulty we’ve had this season and his belief that he perhaps could have had some impact on the early outcome of this season.”
For Kearse, watching the Titans struggle without him is probably the toughest part.
I was like, ‘Man, if I was out there I think I could have made a difference,’” said Kearse who has watched the games from a booth in the press box, rather than from the sidelines. “So it’s something you’ve got to adjust to, you have to go with the flow and let everything work itself out. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make a difference when I get back.”