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The Tennessee Titans have staked a clear claim in the NFL’s ongoing turf vs. grass debate. They’re team turf.

The Titans announced on Tuesday that they’re replacing the natural grass at Nissan Stadium with the latest innovation in artificial turf. The team cited player safety and a history of injuries at home due to playing games on natural grass in a “transition climate zone.”

The change arrives as players and coaches have weighed in on the injury risk presented by playing surfaces, with many advocating for a change to natural grass where artificial turf is already employed.

Head coach Mike Vrabel addressed the decision in a Titans release while noting the declining quality of natural grass in Nashville as the season progresses.

“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our players,” Vrabel said. “We’ve had a lot of issues (with the grass at Nissan Stadium) after a certain part of the season. It’s hard to grow grass. It gets slick.

“Our grass surface is not on the level of some of the other grass surfaces. At the beginning of the year, summer, training camp, early season, I can see it being very consistent. But as the season wears on, and the weather changes, there is a noticeable difference in performance of the field.

Per the Titans, the team is “replacing the grass with monofilament, Matrix Helix Turf with organic infill to “ensure a consistent playing experience year-round.”

Dec 24, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Ground crews clear snow from the field before the Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY SportsDec 24, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Ground crews clear snow from the field before the Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

Ground crews in Nashville clear snow from the field before a Titans-Texans game in December. (Andrew Nelles/Reuters)

Vrabel added that the team previously installed the new turf in their practice bubble and that “the response has been very positive.”

The Associated Press reports that the Titans have led the NFL in each of the last two seasons with most players played, in large part because of injuries. They set a league record for players played in a non-strike season with 91 in 2021.

The Carolina Panthers, who play in a similar climate in Charlotte as the Titans, replaced the natural grass at Bank of America Stadium with turf in 2021. The team cited wear-and-tear on natural grass as the impetus for the switch as the Panthers prepared to share the field with MLS’ Charlotte FC.

Artificial turf in some NFL stadiums has been under fire, including the surface at SoFi Stadium, which hosts the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers and is in the Super Bowl rotation. The turf was blamed for playing a role in the ACL tear suffered by Rams receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in last season’s Super Bowl. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and safety Ryan Neal criticized the surface in October after a rash of injuries during a Seahawks-Chargers game.

New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium has also been blamed for a rash of injuries and prompted an NFLPA review of the surface in 2020. That same year, NFLPA president JC Tretter called for all stadiums to switch to natural grass until artificial turf manufactures could produce a proven safer alternative.

Turf technology is constantly evolving and has advanced considerably since the spate of AstroTurf fields around NFL and MLB stadiums after its introduction in Houston in 1966. Biomechanical engineer and NFL consultant Richard Kent told Yahoo Sports in September that he believes turf will one day perform better than natural grass in terms of player safety.

“There’s no reason to think we can’t build synthetic turf that is safer and better performing than natural grass,” Kent said. “With the right team and the necessary resources, it’s definitely possible to do it.”

The Titans concluded that the technology has advanced enough to offer a marked improvement over grass for the upcoming season — at least for the team’s climate in Nashville.