NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Titans fans could not have asked for a more pleasant atmosphere Saturday night at Nissan Stadium as the team participated in their eighth training camp practice of this young 2017 season.
In front of an announced crowd totaling 11,400, the Titans participated in an intra-squad scrimmage followed by several series of red zone and goal line drills for the first, second and third-string units.
Here are your items of note:
Marcus Mariota Excites In Full-Team Drills
As I stepped out of my car to walk into the stadium Saturday evening, I was immediately bathed in a melodic Hawaiian song blaring over the loud speakers.
Why, you ask? Is it not obvious?
For the first time since going down with a fractured fibula last Christmas Eve against the Jacksonville Jaguars, third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota took the field at Nissan Stadium and dazzled the fans and his coach.
So much so that after one exemplary play, Mike Mularkey forgot his next play call.
“It was so good that I got so excited that I forgot to run the next play,” Mularkey said. “We were supposed to have another goal-line play. I went right into the two-point play. It was good to see him out and the play executed so well.”
That excitement Mularkey felt was the result of a Mariota touchdown run off of a bootleg the team ran during their red zone/goal line session. Obviously, no physical contact with the quarterback was allowed in the scrimmage, but fans, the team and the coaching staff all delighted in seeing their star QB accelerate to escape the coming defensive pressure and trot into the end zone for a two-yard score.
While we’re on the subject of Henry…
Rumble, Young Man, Rumble
Leading up to that first score, the Titans’ starting offensive unit took 10 plays to go 70 yards with Henry as the lead back.
With entrenched starter DeMarco Murray out with a minor hamstring injury for a fourth straight practice, Henry assumed the role and the offense was anything but hindered. Henry showed both burst and bounce, to be cliche, as well as his ability to receive out of the backfield before maximizing his opportunities with the two-yard scoring run.
Adoree’ Jackson Stars in Return Game
The second of two Titans’ rookies chosen in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson appeared more than willing to showcase Saturday why GM Jon Robinson brought him into the fold.
And it wasn’t just his defense…
Back to return the first punt of the team’s scrimmage, Jackson weaved in and away from opposing gunners to bring the ball out to the 30-yard line at Nissan Stadium. Then , on the preceding play, the 18th overall selection from USC took a kickoff out of the back of the end zone and up the sideline to further frustrate the opposing coverage team.
“It is just something that when my name is called, I’m going to go out there and do my thing,” Jackson replied when asked about his contributions to special teams. “Everybody is going to get a fair opportunity, so when you get yours you have to make the most of it.”
Jackson tied the NCAA record for most career touchdown returns during his time at Southern Cal. His four kickoff scores, four punt returns for touchdowns and one pick-six appear to be just as important to the team that drafted Jackson as the recognition he received last season as the Pac-12 defensive player of the year or the Jim Thorpe Award naming him as college football’s top defensive back.
“He is a pretty exciting player,” Mularkey said of Jackson. “He showed his speed, and showed what he is capable of doing. He’ll be a threat, just like he was in college. But he showed his speed tonight.”
Jackson ran with the second-team defense Saturday night. LeShaun Sims currently occupys the second starting corner position opposite new addition Logan Ryan and Brice McCain worked in the slot with the starters.
Taylor Lewan’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Left tackle Taylor Lewan and linebacker Nate Palmer confronted each other after a run play in the red zone during the intra-squad scrimmage. Lewan was subsequently flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the offense was brought back to the 20-yard line.
Often criticized for losing his temper since being drafted by the Titans 11th overall in 2014, Lewan has made noticeable progress in keeping himself under control over the course of his time with the team. And, despite the penalty, the offense went on to score a touchdown on a pass to Walker that drive But, Mularkey was none to pleased with the short outburst.
“I’m glad it took place tonight,” Mularkey said following the night’s events. “I think it’s a good example of what we don’t want and, so, I’ve already talked to him about it. Again, I’d rather it happen on a Saturday night scrimmage than on Sunday afternoon. I don’t think that’ll happen again.
- Linebacker Victor Ochi tore his ACL during the team’s Friday Night Lights practice at Centennial High School in Franklin. Mularkey said he will miss the remainder of the season.
- The aforementioned Murray missed his fourth consecutive practice with a hamstring issue. Corey Davis, the rookie wide receiver taken fifth overall in this year’s draft, also did not practice with a hamstring injury of his own and is considered week-to-week.
- Receiver Tajae Sharpe has not practiced yet in training camp due to the offseason surgery he had to correct a foot issue.
The Titans’ first preseason game is New York Saturday 8/12 against the Jets.
Remaining Titans Open Practice Schedule
- Monday 8/7 –> 6:55 – 9 p.m.
- Wednesday 8/9 –> 8:55 – 11 a.m.
- Thursday 8/10 –> 8:55 – 11 a.m.
- Monday 8/14 –> 6:55 – 8:55 p.m.
- Wednesday 8/16 –> 9:15 – 11:30 a.m. (with Carolina)
- Thursday 8/17 –> 9:15 – 11:30 a.m. (with Carolina)