Julio Jones Returns to Practice in First Sign That He’s Ready to Play After Ankle Injury

Julio Jones returned to the Tennessee Titans’ practice on Monday. Jones spent the bye week recovering from an ankle injury, and the team had already ruled him out for Week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But on Monday the Titans confirmed Jones was back to full practice and has been declared ready to play against Jacksonville on Sunday.

Jones — Tennessee’s No. 1 receiver — has been perhaps the biggest target missed by the Titans in their 4-5 start to the season. Head coach Mike Vrabel has been searching for answers at the position, and on Monday he said, “We can’t put too much pressure on ourselves” given their struggles without Jones.

The Titans, who sit outside the postseason picture heading into Week 11, look to Jones’ 29 receptions for 478 yards and four touchdowns to break out of their slump. Jones is certainly the centerpiece of the Titans’ receiving corps, and Sunday’s game could be a litmus test for whether the team’s victory in Los Angeles a week ago has been a ripple effect in their losing streak.

Jones has been injured for a week after Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota felt pressure to throw on the leg, and Jones underwent an MRI after the game in which he missed two days of practice. Jones, who is in the last year of his contract, has remained optimistic through the setback. He said after the Monday win, “we need to come back with a vengeance,” but on Monday he played it down.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, left, is struggling to manage the Titans’ quarterback position due to his injured hand. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tennessee’s quarterback job is also in question this week. Marcus Mariota is struggling to regain his form since suffering a broken throwing hand. Mariota told reporters on Monday that he feels good, but he has acknowledged that a timetable for a return is unclear.

“I’m getting better, but we have to get better as a team,” Mariota said. “I’m not going to get a timetable until my hands get really strong.”

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