Buck Reising, Tennessee Titans reporter and host of Tackling Music City, provides four items of note from the team’s fifth day of 2018 Training Camp Sunday.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Monday’s practice at St. Thomas Sports Park concluded the first week of training camp for the Tennessee Titans. The team will be off on Tuesday but here’s what stood out on Day 5:
- We’ll Do It Live
- Day 5’s practice was abbreviated so, after a team stretch and a few individual drills, the remainder of the day was spent in what was essentially a Tennessee intra-squad scrimmage. And, as coach Mike Vrabel has been known to do, much of the session was spent with the play-calling and defenses going “unscripted.”
- “I think it was an opportunity to bring together the first couple days of the installation that had been scripted,” said Vrabel. “You know, I mean, everybody’s over there, they’re walking through the script. ‘Hey, this receiver, you’re in this split. This is where you’re gonna be.’ You know, ‘you’re in the third play, you’re in the fifth play.’ So, hopefully, now we can understand that this is how you play the game. That the situation changes, a guy goes down, a guy gets a bump and a bruise. Somebody’s got to go in there. Somebody’s down on the punt team, the next guy goes in. And the coaches have to understand the operation. After the ball gets tackled, we’ve got 40 seconds left to get a play-call and get out in the huddle and understand if it’s third down and 5 or whatever the situation is. So, that’s what we have to start coaching. We’ve got to get the plays, I get that, but now we have to start coaching situation, playing football, understand how the game’s played and what the flow of the game looks like.”
- The unscripted nature of theses sessions forces both coaches and players to think on their feet without the full pressure of an in-game situation.
- Offensive Buzzkill
- Given that the unscripted scrimmage was bound to effect the flow of the scrimmage, the offense looked like it lost an juice it may have carried in on the first-team’s opening possession.
- Quarterback Marcus Mariota decided to take the ball himself after feeling pressure from outside linebacker Derrick Morgan but was running with the ball in a less-than-secure fashion and fumbled without being stripped. Safety Kevin Byard capitalized on the Mariota gaffe and scooped up the football to flip the field and douse the opposition with cold water.
- Mariota did make some plays down the field and was interception-free in the scrimmage, but the fourth-year pro was under pressure for a good deal of his reps and the offense’s progress suffered because of it.
- In The Open Field (Part 2)
- One of the highlights of the offseason was the open-field tackling drill implemented by Vrabel and his staff. It made a return Monday morning.
- The drill, designed to pit receivers and running backs against defensive backs one-on-one, features two players competing in the middle of the square-shaped drill marked by cones with their backs to each other. When the signal was given, the two players would take off towards the cone they were facing and turn to square up with each other. The ball-carrier would then attempt to evade the defender while the defender attempted to use the “sideline” as leverage and force the offensive player out of bounds before he reached his objective. It was not full-contact but there was a pad-popping moment or two.
- The final match-up featured undrafted rookies Rico Gafford and Cameron Batson. Gafford planted Batson with a solid pop and the entire defense watching from the sideline swarmed the young corner and appeared to carry that hype into the unscripted scrimmage that followed.
- Running With The Ones
- Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo did not practice again Monday after “bumping shoulders” with tight end Luke Stocker in 11-on-11 drills last Friday. With Orakpo out, rookie Harold Landry III has seen his first-team reps increase.
- “(Harold)’s done about like the rest of them,” Vrabel said. “There’s some good, some bad and I think he keeps working and trying to improve. But it’s been about like the rest of them. It hasn’t been all great and it hasn’t been all bad. It’s a long process for these guys. You have to remember, Harold hasn’t really played football for awhile. He didn’t finish the season with Boston College because of the injury so, just being our second or third day in pads since early November or October, whenever it was that he didn’t finish the season. So, you know, we’re still chipping away at it.”
- Despite Vrabel down-playing the significance of Landry III’s participation, the fact still remains that we have seen the edge rusher get more reps with the first team in five days than former Titan Kevin Dodd did in two years as a pro.