Buck Reising, Tennessee Titans reporter and host of Tackling Music City, provides four items of note from the team’s Tuesday mandatory minicamp.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — NFL mandatory minicamp is upon us, meaning actual football is inching closer and closer. The Tennessee Titans began the three-day affair Tuesday and will conclude Thursday before the league takes it’s pre-training camp vacation. Here is what stood out today:
- Holdout SZN: Taylor Lewan Edition
- Two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan, playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract, was not present for Tuesday’s mandatory practice as he and his representatives attempt to work out a long-term extension.
- “As we start the mandatory veteran mini-camp, we were informed by the representatives for Taylor Lewan that he would not be attending the camp,” Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson said in an official statement by the team. “We have had several constructive conversations over the last 5-6 weeks about his contract status. He is currently under contract and we are working to keep Taylor as part of this organization for a long time.”
- The fifth-year option is a way for clubs to extend a first-round pick’s rookie deal to give the player and the team more time to hash out a long-term extension. Lewan, selected by the Titans out of Michigan 11th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, heads into the 2018 season set to play on the final year of his first contract under this fifth-year stipulation at a base salary of $9.341 million.
- Second-year reserve tackle Tyler Marz, free-agent acquisition Kevin Pamphile and back-up Dennis Kelly rotated in at various times in Lewan’s place.
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) June 12, 2018
- Dodd Sighting
- One of the persisting Titans narratives of this offseason has been the absence of outside linebacker Kevin Dodd from voluntary organized team activities (OTAs). Dodd returned to work at St. Thomas Sports Park Tuesday but avoided reporters who sought him out for comment following practice.
- “I’m not sure really what your question is, but if you want to ask me about Kevin Dodd, ask me about Kevin Dodd,” coach Mike Vrabel responded when he was asked about Dodd eluding the local media. “But if you’re going to try to take a shot at him, I’m not going to answer your question. If you want to rephrase that I’ll answer whatever you want about Kevin Dodd, but I don’t need you to take a shot at him.”
- “Didn’t even ask him, didn’t even talk to him,” Vrabel said on what Dodd told him regarding OTAs. “Just asked him to do what we’ve asked everybody else to do, to come in, to be attentive, to be coachable, to give great effort and to know what to do. From first glance it looked like he did that. We’ll take a look at the film, and then we’ll go from there.”
- Dodd attended workouts earlier in the offseason before skipping OTAs. The third-year player out of Clemson struggled to get on the field in his rookie season after dealing with foot surgery but was a healthy scratch for much of the 2017 regular season. Dodd, the first pick in the second round of the 2016 Draft, has totaled only nine tackles and one sack in 17 career games.
- On-Field Accolades
- Tennessee’s defense continues to appear sharper than its offensive counterparts at this stage of the game. Vrabel noted last week that, with “new defense and new offense, I think new defense is going to win day in and day out.” Thus far, that appears to be the case on the practice field.
- The linebackers and secondary, in particular, stood out Tuesday. There were several instances in seven-on-seven drills where the defenders forced what would have been coverage sacks of the three quarterbacks, be it in either man or zone. Third-year cornerback LeShaun Sims practiced exceptionally well; the former fifth-round pick leveraged the sideline to force an incompletion on a pass intended for undrafted rookie receiver Jordan Veasy. Sims then followed that up by batting down a would-be touchdown from Marcus Mariota to tight end Luke Stocker during red zone drills.
- “I don’t really know if we’re ahead of (the offense) or not, because I’m not really in their meetings or anything like that,” All-Pro safety Kevin Byard said of the defense’s alleged superiority at this point. “I definitely see that every single day we’re out here competing as hard as we can. Some days the offense (does look) like they make more plays, and some days it’s vice versa. We’re just out here trying to get better and compete.”
- Missing In Action
- As noted, Dodd was back on the field after missing voluntary OTAs, as was defensive tackle David King, who was reportedly dealing with a minor injury. Lewan, receiver Michael Campanaro and tight end Philip Supernaw were not seen out at practice but Vrabel said that, with the exception of the starting left tackle, “everybody else is accounted for and present.”
- Receiver Corey Davis and defensive lineman DaQuan Jones were limited.
- Right tackle Jack Conklin (ACL) and receiver Rishard Matthews (undisclosed) were on the field but did not participate.