Cornerback Nick Harper said his broken forearm, suffered on Oct. 11 against Indianapolis, never fully healed and that the new bone that formed around the plate inserted into the arm cracked from the constant banging of playing once he returned.
Harper was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday as the Titans signed cornerback Jamar Love off the Tampa Bay Buccaneeers practice squad to take his roster spot. Rod Hood, who had three interceptions in Harper’s time out of the lineup, will start the finale at Seattle on Sunday.
“It was never healed when I came back in the first place. It’s just one of those things where you go out and play the best you can with what you have,” Harper said. “I kind of cracked the new bone, I re-cracked it, hitting it every week, practicing on it every week. They said it never really got time to heal because I just kept playing with it week in and week out, so I guess it just finally gave.”
Harper returned for the Nov. 23 game against the Houston Texans and had one interception, but also gave up his fair share of plays. That, he said, was a result of not being 100 percent in his return.
“I would be lying if I sat here and said it didn’t hurt or that it didn’t bother me. There’s a lot of plays where I know I kept it out of the way intentionally, because it was hurting on certain plays, and I know some guys were going after it intentionally,” Harper said. “I was trying to protect myself as well as make plays at the same time. It limited me from doing certain things on the field.”
Asked if he returned too soon from the injury, Harper chalked it up to being a competitor and wanting to get back to help as soon as possible.
“You can’t heal a bone in five weeks. It’s not possible,” Harper said. “Because it’s just me, and it’s what I do. I’m a competitor and I knew if there was a chance I could go on the field, I was gonna go.”
Harper is one of 11 Titans players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after the season is over, regardless of the league's labor situation. He says he would like to keep playing either in Tennessee or somewhere else, but knows some teams could shy away from a 35-year-old cornerback coming off an injury. He said he will let the arm heal and see what happens.
“I’ll just leave it to the man upstairs. If it’s meant for me to play some more, then it’ll be,” Harper said. “But if not, I’m not gonna cry or complain about it. I definitely would like to play some more, but I’m going to let it take care of itself. … You can’t just sit there and cry about it. Nine years in the NFL, that’s great. That’s a long time. If it is that time, then it’s that time.”