The NFL’s Offseason Program is very structured, specific, and restrictive as far as what teams are allowed to do on the field during each phase.
Phase One (April 17 - May 1) was essentially just strength-and-conditioning and weight training. Football activities were still not allowed at this point. (For context, Derrick Henry was famously absent from the Titans facilities for these voluntary workout periods.)
Phase Two (May 1 - May 22) consists of team workout periods and individual drills. Still not allowed was any team work, offense against defense.
Phase Three starts on Tuesday, May 23, and runs through June 19. During Phase Three, teams may hold 10 “organized team activity” practices, known as OTAs.
The Titans 10 permitted OTAs will be held from May 23-25, May 30-31, June 1, and June 5-8.
This is the first time the team’s offense can practice against its defense since the end of last season. While no live contact is permitted, 11-on-11 work is, and the Titans have expressed a desire to spend more than the average time in 7-on-7 practice periods so that Mariota can work on timing with his new receivers without putting his surgically-repaired ankle at risk.
Mularkey says #Titans may do more 7-on-7 drills to ensure Mariota and Corey Davis build timing together during offseason program.— Teresa Walker (@TeresaMWalker) May 12, 2017
Per Jim Wyatt, Mike Mularkey is excited for OTAs to begin:
“I’m looking forward to the competition,’’ Mularkey said “I want to see us getting off to a fast start. This is not all new like it was last year. I think we are much further along than we were, and I’d like to see us get out there and pick up where we left off.”
The Titans got that competitive spirit going last week with a trip to the Fort Campbell military base, where the team competed in small groups against members of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army in a grueling, mud-filled obstacle course.
The Titans divided up into teams and went through an obstacle course filled with military tasks, designed to test their limits. They did some low-crawling under wire, crawled through mud and water, carried logs, water cans, ammo cans and more supplies. They carried simulated casualties, the mannequin-like bodies weighing roughly 120 pounds. They tossed grenades, and to advance they had to be accurate with their throws. They pushed a mammoth Humvee across the terrain. They climbed over logs, and through more obstacles.
Five teams of roughly 15 participants each were made up of rookies and veterans, coaches and other staff members. In order to move from task to task, every person had to finish.
This is an excellent way to build team chemistry in advance of the actual on-field football practices and playbook installations. Integrating the rookies and veterans allows the new players to be accepted by the team more quickly and gives them a better chance to contribute on the field right away.
A difficult physical challenge dependent on teamwork while requiring every member to finish each task creates a strong bond and should allow this team to stay mentally tough when they are physically tired later in the season.
I love what Robinson and Mularkey are doing for this team as far as building and maintaining a competitive “brotherhood” in the locker room. Last offseason, Mularkey integrated a number of fun and competitive games into football-related meetings and activities.
We should continue to see that competitive edge when the practice sessions start on Tuesday.