Today was probably one of the more balanced practices I have seen in terms of competition between the offense and the defense. The Titans were in shorts and jerseys so no contact was allowed and really it's hard to judge the defense too much when they can't really tackle. Still, they do look to me like they are settling into what they want to do and have an idea of what their personnel can do.
The good news on offense is that Jake Locker had a much better practice as did rookie wide receiver Justin Hunter. Hunter made a particularly nice catch in end zone drills to snare a pass from Jake Locker. The rook made a very nice play on the ball to catch it in the right corner of the endzone. Locker was sharp overall today and made several nice throws. He also pulled it down once and ran for a nice gain on a play where his receivers were all covered.
Locker also connected several times on nice plays to second year man Kendall Wright. Wright sometimes gets forgotten in the wide receiver conversation but he is very quietly having an excellent second training camp. I have said before how well Nate Washington looks. Britt didn't practice today and has knee soreness and swelling. He was on the field and appeared to be moving fine so I see no cause for concern at this point.
I can't say enough about how well Michael Preston has played and competed in training camp this year. While he had a strong camp last year, and I remember him from the year before, you can really see the progress and how hard he has worked to get to where he is right now. I see him making the final 53.
Another player I have pegged to make my final 53 is running back Jackie Battle who has just had a fantastic camp since signing on July 24, 2013. He got more first team reps today and has made some great plays. He is also a really nice blocker as well, and has good hands in the passing game.
Finally, I am really slacking in talking about how well Ryan Fitzpatrick has blended into this team. He has made some good throws in camp and it seems Brandon Barden has become one of his favorite targets. He connected with him a couple of times lately and has done so in other practices as well. Barden is a nice player. Will the Titans keep more than 3 TEs? I see them keeping 3 with a fullback.
At the moment, these are your favorites for the return position. Dontel Watkins, Rashad Ross and Diondre Borel gets reps as well but there just isn't room on the 53. If there is a long shot my money would be on Watkins though they are all nice young players. Ross is really fast. Darius Reynaud has some nice runs today and looks far more comfortable in the running back role this year. Is there room for a rehabbing Marc Mariani? Maybe if the Titans carry 7 wide receivers.
I did spend some time watching new acquisitions Corey Lynch and Gary Guyton. They both got work on special teams and Guyton got some work at middle linebacker. I have to say he really looked comfortable out there for just having been signed. He has really nice size and athleticism.
In saying that am I suggesting Moise Fokou won't likely get the starting MLB job. I am a big fan of Colin McCarthy but he has to get on the field and stay there. It sounds like he is still at least another week away. Having said that, Fokou has done as well as advertised though to me he does seem perhaps a wee bit undersized for the MLB spot. Still, he is doing a great job.
Akeem Ayers continues to play both outside linebacker and right defensive end. I could be wrong but I haven't seen him line up at left defensive end at least not yet. He is doing well adjusting to putting his hand on the ground. I already mentioned Zach Brown and his interception from Sunday night's practice and he has had a nice camp as well.
Speaking of linebackers, Kam Wimbley lined up there again today. The Titans have stated they are giving him a lot of rest to keep him fresh and indeed he really doesn't need the reps given the time he has spent in the league. They expect him to rush the passer a lot more this year. Today he lined up in the middle on their 3 DL package as well as outside on the left.
I talked about the safeties yesterday and I have mentioned Jason McCourty some but the Titans have some good competition going on at cornerback. I still think JMac and Verner are the starters and Coty Sensabaugh will be the nickel back. Still, BW3 is really coming along you can see him playing much faster out there and he does show some nice press and man coverage skills. I watched more of Griffin today and I think we can expect to see him play much better in 2013.
Finally, I am still trying to decide what direction I think they go on the backend of their defensive line. Derrick Morgan is in great shape and Ropati Pitoitua has played a ton of snaps at both end positions. I have decided I like him better at left defensive end and Morgan plays well on both the left and right side.
Lavar Edwards continues to see a ton of playing time inside and he really looks good at tackle. I think you can expect to see him both inside and outside this year depending on the situation. Also, my money is still on Karl Klug making the roster.
The Titans will hold one more day of open practices tomorrow and that will be it for training camp for fans to attend. You can find my photographs from today's practice here. I posted some vines on my twitter account at @SportsBySharona and I have also posted some short video clips to my instagram account by the same name.