Most of the time, coach Barry Trotz provides very thorough responses to questions about the Predators.

He doesn’t mind talking about strategy, personnel changes, scheduling challenges and whatever else the media ask him.

That wasn’t the case Tuesday, however, when Trotz was asked how Roman Josi’s return this week from a concussion will affect some of the other defensemen in terms of playing time.

“I don’t know,” Trotz said. “They will decide that.”

He’s leaving it up to the less-experienced players who stepped in during Josi’s absence.

Trotz said Josi would be in the second or third pair Thursday at Phoenix, where the Predators begin a 16-day road trip. How long he stays there will depend on how far along he’s come in his recovery from the concussion, which kept him out of action for three weeks.

Victor Bartley, who joined the Predators as a free agent in 2011, and Ryan Ellis, a first-round pick in 2009, saw their minutes increase in Josi’s absence. Ellis has played at least 10 minutes in each of the past 10 games and scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Islanders on Oct. 10.

Bartley, who has played at least nine minutes in each of the past 10 games, said the battle for playing time is “pretty intense. You’re going to have to step it up to get your time and everybody knows that.”

Said Ellis: “Roman logs a lot of minutes. He’s a great skater, he’s very offensive and he plays very hard. I don’t know that it puts any pressure on anyone else. He’s a great player and he’s earned his spot, and everyone just has to keep playing. We’ve been playing fairly well, other than that last game.”

The Predators are coming off a 6-1 loss to the Blues on Saturday.

Josi has looked good in practice since being cleared for contact Monday, Trotz said, but the biggest test will come in Thursday’s game. After that, the coach will decide whether to pair Josi with Shea Weber again — they were paired last season — or leave him in the second or third pair.

Rookie Seth Jones is Weber’s current partner.

“Players can practice all they want; it’s about how they play,” Trotz said. “We have to see how Josi plays. I know he’s a good player and he’ll get back to top form in time. But is he going to be there right out of the gate or is it going to take a couple of games? I can’t answer that until we play the games.”