NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In a scene that should have been narrated by Captain Ryan Ellis, the Tennessee Titans practice at St. Thomas Sports Park was overtaken Wednesday by a foreign invader.
What happened? Did we finally provoke North Korea to the point of no return? Not quite as bad as all that, perhaps. Storms pushed the training camp’s start back an hour and made the air vaporous. The thunder, lightning and steam brought forth a figure that danced and dabbed it’s way across the enemy practice fields.
That’s right… an extraterrestrial.
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) August 16, 2017
Former NFL MVP Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers rolled into training camp for the first of two joint practices with Tennessee and two teams reacted well to the new environment. That being said, let’s get into what you need to know from Wednesday’s open practice…
Quarterbacks: Jekyll & Hyde
On the field towards the north end of the complex, Newton gyrated, sang and dished out playful smack talk directed at both the Titans players and a few boisterous fans. Still rehabilitating a surgically repaired (partially torn) rotator cuff in his his throwing shoulder from March 30th surgery, Newton spectated for the majority of the nearly three-hour joint practice.
Cam did throw in warm-ups and in an individual drill with his receivers but shut it down shortly after that. Despite being sidelined, he continued to spread the good vibes and his teammates appeared to feed off of the positivity.
Hometown favorite Marcus Mariota’s outing looked slightly more labored.
Marcus showed off his speed in team drills and broke off a solid run followed by a gorgeous deep pass to rookie Taywan Taylor over Carolina safety Captain Munnerlyn in one-on-ones. But twice the Panthers’ defense intercepted No. 8.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) August 16, 2017
Mariota put too much air under a pass to Delanie Walker that was tipped and picked by Colin Jones. On a screen pass to Derrick Henry, linebacker/safety Shaq Thompson jumped the play and nabbed what would have been six points the other way.
“It’s stuff that we can learn from, and that’s what this is about,” Mariota said to the media following the day’s work. ““It’s an opportunity for us to see a front that we usually don’t get a whole lot of during camp. It allows us to see a defense that we’re going to have to face throughout the year. Not every team is going to be a 3-4, so it’s good to be able to get this work in and see the different rotations and different coverages.”
Make Love, Not War
Much to the chagrin of us media vultures, both the Panthers and Titans remained cordial throughout the day.
“The way they emphasized no fighting, surprised there wasn’t a bulletin board saying ‘No Fighting’ as soon as we walked into the building,” pass rusher Brian Orakpo said. “That’s how much they talked about it. We made sure we were going to be disciplined and get great work, and they did the same thing because their coach had the same message.”
There was plenty of jawing during joint team drills, but all in good fun.
Rookie linebacker Jayon Brown had his name called several times in last Saturday’s preseason action in East Rutherford and continued to impress today. The 2017 fifth-round pick out of UCLA was rewarded with first-team reps and capitalized with an interception of Panthers back-up Joe Webb.
“I think he’s stood out since he’s been in the OTAs. He quietly goes about his business and he’s always around the football,” Coach Mike Mularkey said.
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) August 16, 2017
Back To Back
DeMarco Murray missed considerable time thus far in training camp and did not play in Saturday’s preseason loss as the team slowly brings him back from a nagging hamstring injury.
On Wednesday, Murray was full go. Tennessee’s offensive starters worked against the Carolina defense’s first team in joint full team drills. The first play was well blocked by the Titans o-line and broke No. 29 free for a huge gain.
Seventh-round pick Khalfani Muhammad also took advantage of his Carolina counterparts on a handoff that would have gone for a 60-yard score. Muhammad showed off excellent speed and change of direction on a cut-back to shake the defender and let loose in the open field.
Linebacker Daron Bates dislocated fingers Saturday against the Jets and appeared to agitate the injury.
Wide receiver Eric Decker made an improbable diving catch in one-on-ones and tweaked his ankle in the process. The ankle was taped and the free-agent addition was held out of full team activities.
Tackle Dennis Kelly appeared to struggle with the heat and was taken off the field early but the incident was not deemed serious.
Those who did not practice:
- LS Beau Brinkley (Groin)
- WR Corey Davis (Hamstring)
- CB Demontre Hurst (Groin)
- WR Mekale McKay (Hamstring)
- LB Aaron Wallace (Back)
Titans Remaining Open Practice Schedule
- Thursday 8/17 –> 9:15 -11:30 a.m. (with Carolina)