Jevon Kearse said he had an idea before Sunday night’s 31-9 loss against Indianapolis that he would be inactive, and therefore arrived later than usual and left once given the official word.
Kearse also offered no apology for his departure, saying he decided to go home, spend time with family and friends and watch the Titans on television rather than from the sideline.
“First of all, I wanted to go hang out with my family and friends that I had in town. And second of all, I didn’t think one person not on the sideline was going to make a difference in this game,” Kearse said.
Kearse made no promises that such a thing wouldn’t happen again if he were deactivated.
“It depends on how I’m feeling. It depends on how I’m feeling right now,” Kearse said. “I kind of knew it was going to happen throughout the week or whatever. But once it happened, I mean there was nothing I could do. I wanted to go hang out with my family and friends I had in town, and that’s what I did.”
Second-year man William Hayes got first-team reps on Friday in Kearse’s spot and again in Wednesday’s practice as it appears the swap at left defensive end is permanent.
“It kind of struck me when we were at practice and I started getting first-team reps,” the second-year man from Winston-Salem State said.
Kearse said he arrived in street clothes a little later than he normally would for a game and did not go through warm-ups, because he had an idea he wouldn’t play.
“I kind of knew by Thursday,” Kearse said. “I got there in my street clothes later than I was supposed to. I kind of knew it was gonna come, so I just wanted to get the official word. And once I got the official word, I jumped back in my Benz and I went home.”
Titans coach Jeff Fisher gave Kearse the official word, and the veteran said he listened and did not question the coach’s decision.
“I just listened to what he said. I didn’t even given input, though I wish I would have given some input. But I just took what he had to say and went home, hung with my family and thought about it,” Kearse said.
Asked what he would say, he said that would stay between him and Fisher.
Kearse, however, said he has not had any meeting with Fisher regarding his leaving the stadium, answering, “Not really, but I don’t think there’s anything there, because I think he would have pulled me to the side or said something to me about it.”
Fisher has refused to elaborate on the matter and says it is over.
“I didn’t feel the need [to take further action],” Fisher said. “I thought I made myself clear. That’s a difficult decision to go through. It’s hard, and I understand his position and he understands ours. We’ve moved on. That’s between he and I. There’s no message, no issue. It’s behind us.”
Kearse also said he was told that he needed to get healthier in order to move better and be active. Kearse has not been listed on the injury report all season, and Titans officials said in announcing inactives before Sunday night’s game that Kearse was a healthy scratch.
“He said I needed to get more healthy. And until I can get more healthy and do more things, they’re gonna let somebody else get it done,” Kearse said.
Kearse indicated that he too is ready to move forward.
“It was real tough. I’m not gonna kill myself now. I’m still good,” he said.
As far as reaction around the locker room, players said it was an issue between Kearse and Fisher and not a team-wide matter.
“That’s between him and the head coach,” center Kevin Mawae said. “I don’t even know what the circumstances were, and I didn’t know he didn’t dress, and I didn’t know he wasn’t on the sideline in the papers Monday morning, and I would guess that most of the guys on the team are like that. ‘Oh, really? That happened?’ Because it’s game day, and you’re worried about yourself and your assignment.”
Fellow defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch offered support for Kearse, whom he said practices hard and carries out his assignments on the defense.
“There’s not a better teammate in this locker room than Jevon Kearse,” defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said.