Let's start with a disclaimer: If you are looking for a critical, hard hitting breakdown of yesterday's practice...well, you are not gonna find it here. Jimmy and jasonkylebates have been all over the actual practice coverage; lettin' us know how Vince and CJ are looking, evaluating the battle for CB #2 and all the rest. Me? Well I took my opportunity yesterday to just be a fan. So what you are gonna find here are my story...a lot of pictures...and maybe some observations on how big of a dude Eugene Amano really is (huge!) or how Marc Mariani looks like Jimmy in shoulder pads (he really does!). So, enjoy!
So I was invited to attend Titans practice on Tuesday as a guest of a corporate sponsor of the Tennessee Titans. We arrived at Baptist Sports Park around 2:15 local time and were immediately taken into the practice bubble to wait on the rest of our group. The bubble contains a 120 yard field-turf practice field that the team is able to use when weather forces them inside and also when they are preparing to play games on turf like Lucas Oil Stadium.
(Click on any of the pictures throughout to see them larger.)
Saw this right when we walked into the bubble. Looks like an autograph, just not Rennie Curran's:
We spent about 30 minutes in the practice bubble getting our nametags and wristbands situated and being greeted by Titans' Executive Vice President Don McLachlan (who actually thanked US for being there!). Mr McLachlan also introduced us to Voice of the Titans Mike Keith and Executive Vice President of Player Personnel Ruston Webster. All 3 gentlemen treated us to a Q&A period, as well as talking to us about the state of the team and the overall excitement surrounding our 2010 draft class. To be honest, it felt a little surreal to be standing there with such a small group being able to ask questions. I really had to restrain myself from tackling my buddy to see if Mike Keith would yell SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!
I should have done it.
So then it was getting close to time for practice and we started to make our way out to the practice field. It was hot. But I didn't care. The team had a tent set up on the side of the practice field that was being used for 104.5 The Zone to broadcast from. It was also where the caterer set up the spread for our group (it looked great, but it was too stinkin' hot to eat anything. They had some mighty fine strawberry lemonade though.) Practice was just beginning, and the running backs were running position drills with new running backs coach Craig Johnson right in front of our tent.
That is Coach Johnson getting ready to throw a pass to Alvin Pearman with LeGarrette Blount (who is huge by the way..I had no idea how big he was) #42, Stafon Johnson #13, Javon Ringer #21 and I think you might know who #28 is. (And I put those numbers underneath the players so you would know who they were. I know southtexastitan would be the first to ask if the numbers are on the field.)
The quarterbacks were throwing with the receivers closer to the building. I want to believe that Kerry and Vince were wondering aloud if the KC vs VY thread was still active at MCM.
Headed over to where the OLine and DLine were working. Noticed on my way that Big Country is bigger than a golf cart:
And Pinoy's boy Eugene Amano (54) appears to be wider than a golf cart:
Next stop was a popular stop for fans attending practice: The defensive line drills.
You can see here that Coach Washburn is not afraid to get down and work with his men. Here he lines up against Jason Jones (91) while Seabreeze (95) takes a knee:
MCM favorite Jacob Ford gets some instruction from Coach Wash
The next two pictures are Jason Jones lining up against Seabreeze and running a drill while Coach Wash watches intently:
Something I noticed while I watched the dline run through their workout was that Derrick Morgan (96) had been sneaking in closer and closer to where the action was. Coach Wash actually moved him back once...I could have sworn he was gonna jump in there and hit somebody. You can tell he is ready to get over this injury and get to work.
After the dline went to work with the oline, I headed over to watch the receivers and defensive backs battle. Here we can see Marc Mariani (83) line up against Chris Hope (24). You can also see friend of MCM Alterraun Verner (20) looking on, as well as Michael Griffin (33) and SoCalTitan's favorite LaVelle Hawkins (87).
Dominique Edison (19) and Vincent Fuller (22) finish up while FOMCM Alterraun Verner (20) tells Kenny Britt (18) that he ain't gettin' by this time:
Robert Johnson (32) goes against Paul Williams (81) while the receiver group looks on. (BTW, both Johnson and Myron Rolle look much taller in person than I had thought they were.)
I took some more pictures as the team moved into 7 on 7 and full team workouts. Here we see FOMCM Alterraun Verner and (this made me kind of sad) Rennie Curran sporting the Titan blue 53:
A good picture of Javon Ringer (21) bringing me the ball (you can also see Myron Rolle (25) at safety):
I'm over here Javon!
Oh, and a little MCM favorite Donnie Nickey sighting for ADub right there!
3/4 of our starting secondary:
My Bironas kicking a field goal:
#1 offense takes the field with Amano at center:
I happened to notice this guy taking pictures:
Alterraun lines up across from Mariani as Edison goes in motion:
For all the #28 fans out there...let's have VY get him the ball out of the backfield and let him take it down the sideline:
That's Tully (55) lining him up for the big hit
It was right after that play that I noticed the equipment guy in the gray shirt had the tattoo of the day:
20 and 83 again:
The last picture there is the beginning of what was one of my two favorite plays of the day. Verner started the play lined up across from Mariani, but picked up Phillip Morris (16) down the field after he started in the slot. Morris had the position and the ball in his hands, but Verner decided he was not gonna give up until that ball was on the turf. Awesome play here:
And who is bringing the ball back? That is Friend of MCM Alterraun Verner:
I think we are really gonna love us some two zero.
And this brings me to my second favorite play of the day. One that really showed how much fun these guys are having on the field. Ryan Mouton (29) made a great play on an interception late in the practice (I believe Simms was the quarterback) and had a clear path to 6. But a certain starting quarterback was not gonna let it go that easy. I wish I had been taking pictures during the whole play instead of running my mouth imparting my Titans knowledge on somebody who probably doesn't care as much as I do, but I did get the camera going when I noticed VY giving chase. Here is the sequence where VY makes sure Mouton doesn't get to score:
And don't worry....it was all in almost slow motion...nobody was gonna get hurt messing around like that. This also drew the biggest cheer of the day from the crowd. But it wasn't over yet! VY was still "hot" and was not gonna let 20 and 23 come down and congratulate Mouton on his great play:
Now I really get to show off. After practice, we had several players who were not scheduled to sign autographs come over to greet us and sign for us. All of the players that we met were polite and talkative. David Thornton assured me that he would be ready to start the season, and that he was working twice as hard to fill the void that will be left by Bulluck's departure. So between them and the players who were scheduled to sign I managed to fill up my ball pretty good.
Mike Keith and David Thornton:
Ryan Mouton (29), Will Witherspoon (4), LaVelle Hawkins (87) and Derrick Morgan (96)
And it should be mentioned that Vince Young stood by the fence and signed autographs until everyone who wanted one had one. Well over an hour. Props to VY.
So after we got some autographs, my buddy wondered aloud if I thought they would give us a tour of the facility. What is the harm in asking? So he asked Mr McLachlan, and I almost passed out when he said "Sure! Follow me!"
So we grabbed our bags and followed Mr McLachlan across the practice field and into the building where the players enter the locker room. Just so happened Coach Cecil was standing just inside giving an interview, and Michael Griffin was standing by as if he was next. We proceeded down the hall into the training room, through into the weight room (which is enormous) and then turned into the hallway that leads from the weight room into the locker room. This is the "mural" hallway where you often see Mike Keith interviewing players. I stopped for a minute to take some pictures of some of the pictures on the wall:
Two of my all time favorite Titan pictures that just happen to be from the same game:
Our tour continued through the locker room, down the hall by the defense meeting room, coaches' offices (where I shook Coach Johnson's hand and spoke with Coach Graves for a moment), by the team meeting room and training table and back out into the lobby of the building where Mr McLachlan told us goodbye (and we thanked him profusely). In the lobby of the facility, they have framed copies of the Tennessean hanging on the walls commemorating special moments in Titan history. A couple of my favorites:
good great awesome abso-freaking-lutely incredible experience. I will owe my friend AC for a while for inviting me along. Everyone associated with the Tennessee Titans, Titans Radio and 104.5 The Zone that we met were incredible. The other thing that I am convinced of after visiting practice is that we are gonna be back this season. Yeah, I said it. My Titan fandom is like an upside down bell curve. I bottom out in April-May-June as I continue to dwell on the dissapointment of the previous season and then bring it back up as camp opens. Especially when I get as excited as I was yesterday. So I have officially changed my stance on the 2010 Season of Doom.
Hope you enjoyed reading and checking out the pictures. I have an old man rant that I am gonna lace into next, so go ahead and click out if you don't want to hear it.
Old man rant!
A conversation that I actually witnessed yesterday while waiting on Jamie Winborn to sign my football:
Mouthbreather: Hey man! What's your name!
Jamie Winborn: Jamie Winborn
Mouthbreather: Cool! I am mouthbreather, nice to meet you!
Jamie Winborn: Nice to meet you.
Mouthbreather: Hey, is Cortland gonna come out and sign?
Jamie Winborn: Don't know...probably not.
Without saying another word to Winborn, the mouthbreather turned around and walked off as Winborn was reaching to sign his football. What a freaking loser. To his credit, Winborn just shrugged his shoulders when I told him that what mouthbreather did was screwed up and that I appreciated his time. He handled it a lot better than I would have.
I know that our society has lost most all semblance of politeness and civility (go read Stampede Blue if you don't believe me), but the autograph seeker behavior I saw yesterday disgusted me. It was really appalling. Is it that freaking hard to tell a guy "thank you" for signing your jersey? Or not elbow the girl next to you in the head because you just have to be the next one to get Kenny Britt to sign the 34 football cards you have on your clipboard? I honestly heard "thank you" maybe 3 times. And that was after I made smash tell Damian Williams thanks. David Thornton looked at me like I was speaking chinese when I told him thank you. I am not getting into a discussion about how much money someone makes and whether or not they owe you an autograph. Just freaking say thank you. It really is not that hard. And don't beg em for their shorts and get pissed when they say no. And if Vince Young politely says he wants to sign more autographs and not take the time to stop and take a picture with you when he knows that you can't work the camera, don't throw a hissy fit. I am honestly surprised that these guys are still so willing to sign an autograph after the garbage I saw. Embarrassing really.
Oh, and one more thing: