It's been a long summer.
The Tennessee Titans have finally started training camp and their first preseason game is less than two weeks away.
For the past two days we've watched players in helmets and shorts play pass and catch and two hand touch. This is where speed and agility shines, not to mention the mental acumen to implement the previous months of the off-season.
Today, things change, as the pads go on.
Now training camp padded practice isn't full blown Sunday action. It's not even preseason game action. But it will start to separate those that are the "real deal" from those that are great athletes, but maybe can't play football on Sundays.
What to watch for:
Mike Martin has reportedly been seen in the backfield multiple times and giving the offensive line troubles. Can he continue this once the offensive line can get their shots in? The defensive line slots are numbered now that the Titans are switching to a 3-4.
Derrick Morgan has taken to his new position at OLB as quick as fans could have hoped for. His pass rush abilities may not be hindered, in fact they may improve, but will he be able to drop into coverage and react as necessary? Morgan's transition is one of the biggest changes from last year as well as one of the biggest question marks moving forward.
Dexter McCluster has been an offensive highlight of camp so far flashing a burst and speed that catches the eye. But at 5' 8" and 170 pounds, will his burst translate once the body shots begin?
Daimon Stafford had a fabulous second day of camp. Breaking up passes and being where he needs to be. Certain receivers such as Kendall Wright and Nate Washington look good in shorts, but even better on game day. Can Stafford keep up when the pads go on and make the coaches keep him on the team?
Let's face it, a day of padded practice in July won't answer these questions. That can only truly be seen on Sundays during the fall. But tomorrow is one step closer and the coaches,as well as die hard fans, will be watching.