Gerald McRath knew what day he was eligible to rejon the Tennessee Titans. It was Monday.
He just wasn’t sure what time.
“I didn’t know what time,” the second-year linebacker said. “I had to call and text a couple guys and see what time they were supposed to come in or even if they needed to come in. That was kind of strange.
“Coming back and seeing all the guys for the first time was kind of weird.”
McRath sat out the first four weeks of the season because he was suspended for violation of the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs policy. He was prohibited from being anywhere in the team’s training facility or on the sidelines during games.
He returned to the practice field Wednesday when the team began preparations for Sunday’s game at Dallas.
“I already knew it would be difficult,” he said. “I think the biggest part is staying mad and pushing forward. My biggest thing the last four weeks has been not worrying about not being able to play but when I do get back to make sure I’m ready to play. So my focus mainly has been on harping on how I can get better and what advantages I can get from being out four weeks.”
One the Titans’ top performers throughout the offseason, McRath probably would have opened the season as a starter at one of the outside linebacker spots. Instead, veteran Jamie Winborn filled that role and made eight tackles.
What happens now, remains to be seen but presumably, McRath will be a starter Sunday.
“It will really depend a lot and be dictated by the Cowboys and what they try to do offensively,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “He probably won’t be playing in our sub packages, so if they put multiple receiver sets on the field than we’ll be in nickel and he may not play. We’re just glad to have him back.
“He’s in great shape, he hit the field running and he’s ready to go.”
McRath found solace in comparing himself to others who have been out of action since the end of training camp for reasons other than the once he faced.
“My situation is that I’m a lucky man,” he said. “After the last preseason game a lot of guys got cut and a lot of guys are out there now still looking for work. I’m blessed to be able to come back here and have another opportunity to make myself a place on this team.”
It certainly beats being somewhere else.
“I didn’t sit at home and cry,” he said. “That’s not the way to do it. If I sat at home every day and moped and wept then I wouldn’t have gotten better. … You can’t do nothing but want to work after watching these guys.
“I’m taking it one day at a time, just trying to get better. That’s always my motto, I just try to leave a little bit better than I was the day before. But it was good to be out there. It felt real good.”