Tulane running back Tyjae Spears fell to the Tennessee Titans with the No. 81 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Following his perceived fall, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Spears has no ACL in one of his knees and is dealing with arthritis.
During this weekend’s rookie minicamp, Spears was asked about the report, which he brushed aside.
“I was out there,” the rookie said. “I did everything. So, I feel perfectly fine. Nothing wrong with me. I’m healthy.”
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Asked about playing without an ACL, Spears responded: “Nah, I’m healthy.”
Pushed about the veracity of whether he does have an ACL in the knee, he again simply responded: “I am healthy.”
His blunt nature when asked about the past knee injuries is understandable — it’s basically all that’s been asked of him since being drafted.
Spears authored a very productive career at Tulane, owning a combination of lateral quickness and cuts that allows him to break explosive plays. The back also possesses body control and strength to shed arm tackles.
If not for the knee issue, he’d likely have been selected higher than the late third round.
“I guess that’s the question that’s going to always pop up,” Spears said when asked if there was frustration about the knee questions. “Like I said, I’m here. They had a lot of faith in me to get me where they got me at. So, I’m healthy, and they know I’m healthy.”
Longevity is the main question with Spears’ type of injury. He could be healthy now and very productive for the Titans as a backup to Derrick Henry. But his career could be curtailed beyond the first rookie contract. We saw former Dolphins and Eagles back Jay Ajayi have explosive seasons early in his career (including 1,272 yards in his second season in 2016) before quickly sputtering to an end after the knee issues caught up.
In the short term, Spears will plow forward in his rookie campaign as a productive complement to King Henry in Tennessee’s reimagined offense.
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