The Titans officially opened training camp and their 2010-11 NFL season at Baptist Sports Park this evening. By my estimate about three hundred Titans faithful bore the heat to get a look at this latest iteration of two-toned blue. What follows are my observations from Day One.I arrived around 3:15pm and posted up along the fence behind the goalposts of field two. This is where the action is for the early part of practice, but not because the players are doing anything interesting. No, behind the field two goalpost is where the D-line does their position drills, and trust me, if you're going to camp then you need to follow the defensive linemen around, because you will get to hear the subtle joys that are the coaching techniques of Jim Washburn.
To say that Coach Washburn is prone to using colorful language would be akin to describing the sun as bright. It gets the point across but really doesn't do justice to first-hand experience. Let's just say that Coach Wash's usual word choices are very NSFW. I like it. If you don't, then avoid defensive linemen like Lane Kiffin avoids protocol (OH SNAP).
What I call field one, the field nearest the fan entrance, went unused during today's practice, and field two was used but briefly for its endzones. The D-Line, O-Line, and TEs worked on positional drills on the fence end while the skill players and specialists worked on punt returns.
I was really looking forward to watching Damian Williams shag punts, but he is still nagged by a hamstring injury suffered during OTAs and began camp on the PUP list. While he was dressed and at practice, all I saw him do today was play catch with Chris Simms. Marc Mariani took almost all the reps catching punts, and I don't think he dropped one. Early returns on the Montana product look good.
While D-Line and O-Line continued position drills, the rest of the team went into 7-on-7. The first thing I noticed was Cortland Finnegan playing on the left side of the defense. Titans fans have grown accustomed to seeing Finnegan on the defense's right side, but it appears that is no more.
I was disappointed to learn that Willie Rose, FA FB from FAU (break out the decoder rings), also started camp on the PUP. The reports I heard from OTAs were that Mr. Rose is going to really push Sarge for the starting FB spot, and I look forward to seeing that bear out during camp.
The 11-on-11 period was pretty basic. Lots of players rotating in and out on both sides of the ball. The offense stayed in its three basic personnel groups: Base (1 RB, 1 FB, 1 TE, 2 WR), Tiger (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR), and Zebra (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR). One thing I did notice was the amount of pre-snap motion going on. Every play had guys on offense moving around i.e. TE lining up at FB and moving to the line, WR coming across the formation, CJ coming out of the backfield to split wide, etc.
I was obviously focusing on offense during the period, so here's what I saw: Javon Ringer has got real speed, LeGarrette Blount is doing the rookie-RB-dance-in-the-hole routine, Kenny Britt appears to be picking up right where he left off last year, Simms has a fabulous arm, Collins started over-throwing everything towards the end of the day, and Vince is confident and healthy.
I plan on being back at Baptist Sports Park on Sunday, and I hope to see you there.