With the Taylor Lewan contract extension finished, the Titans took to the field at Saint Thomas Sports Park this morning for the second practice of training camp. Here are my notes along with the three stars of practice:
3rd Star: Taylor Lewan
It’s hard for offensive linemen to stand out in training camp, especially before the pads come on, but Lewan is such a physical presence on the field that its hard to miss him. After signing his big extension this morning he came on to the field and dominated in practice, helping the offense to a much better day. He followed that up by appearing at the post-practice press conference dressed as Boss Hogg. It’s hard to have a better day than that.
2nd Star: Jayon Brown
Jayon Brown continues to flash. Again, today was no pads, but Brown is among the most noticeable defenders, flying all over the field. He had one of the best defensive plays of the game when he stepped in front of a Mariota pass and got the interception. Despite all the moving parts at inside linebacker — more on that in a minute — Brown appears to have a role locked down. He was outstanding today.
1st Star: Corey Davis
THE star of the day was clearly Corey Davis though. I counted at least 4 touchdowns combined between 7-on-7’s and full team periods. He got behind Adoree Jackson on a deep post and made the grab for what would have been a long touchdown. He also beat Malcolm Butler a couple times for touchdowns, including one acrobatic catch where he fought back across Butler to make a leaping catch in the end zone. Butler vs. Davis is quickly turning in to one of the best matchups of Titans camp with Butler winning day one and Davis taking day two. These guys look extremely competitive and should make each other better over the next several weeks. Davis looked like a true superstar today.
- Overall, this was a much better day for the offense. The passing game, in particular, was much better with Taywan Taylor and Delanie Walker also adding long touchdowns in team periods in addition to Corey Davis’ highlight grabs.
- Marcus Mariota looked sharper today. What is really standing out with Mariota through two practices is his accuracy down the field. Last season, he had a bunch of near misses when looking for the deep ball. The last couple days he’s been lethal over the top with several perfectly placed balls.
- It was a rough day for Darius Jennings who dropped a couple easy throws.
- Nick Williams got some reps as the first team slot wide receiver today after Michael Campanaro got most of them on day one. Williams is a very sudden route runner, but he also had a bad drop on an accurate ball.
- Akrum Wadley had a couple nice moments in practice. He is extremely quick and a strong route runner out of the backfield. I think he’s going to have a real chance to stick on the roster.
- David Fluellen had a bad moment when Tye Smith punched the ball out for a fumble during a team period.
- Among the UDFA receivers, Jordan Veasy and Deontay Burnett really stand out. Veasy is huge and thick and he uses that big body well to shield off defenders and give the quarterbacks a big target. Burnett is a smooth route runner with great hands. I thought both looked pretty good today and am interested to see these guys work in preseason.
- Blaine Gabbert has an absolute cannon of an arm. Watching him throw the ball, you can absolutely see why teams fell in love with him during the 2011 draft process. He had a nice day today, throwing some accurate balls over the middle. There is no battle for QB2.
- Schematically, the Titans showed a lot of classic Shanahan concepts. I saw some 4-outs, yankee concepts, and pivot routes today. One thing that stands out compared to the last offense is just how many route combos result in receivers catching the ball moving in to space.
- One continuation from Thursday’s practice was the usage of Corey Davis in the slot. He lined up there quite a bit today and did some really good work there. In fact, Davis was in the slot far more than Taywan Taylor, who stayed outside most of the day again today.
- I mentioned Jonnu Smith yesterday and his increased role, and I also think that Luke Stocker appears to be in line for some snaps on offense in heavy sets.
- I watched the offensive line during some individual drills and the focus is certainly on outside zone techniques, as expected. Offensive line coach Keith Carter has been impressive to me. He is very clear about what he’s looking for in each drill and how it applies to the field.
- The biggest news of the day on defense was a possible injury to Brian Orakpo. He went to the ground as the result of a hard Luke Stocker slice block during a team period and came off. After talking to some trainers for a minute he slammed his helmet down and ran to the locker room. No official word on what the injury was, but I’ve seen speculation that it was his shoulder. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious. He didn’t look to be in too much pain when he ran off.
- Harold Landry stepped in to the first team defense when Orakpo went down. He got matched up with Taylor Lewan and the $80 million dollar man taught the rook a thing or two. Landry had a good day from what I saw in run defense, doing a nice job setting the edge and squeezing the back side on zone runs away from him. Landry got faked out by a Mariota pump fake on a bootleg to his side. The quarterback pumped and then darted inside and ended up in the end zone.
- Rashaan Evans also got some work with the first team today. He and Will Compton rotated at the spot next to Wesley Woodyard as that appears to be a contested position.
- Jayon Brown received some praise from Vrabel after practice, with his coach saying that “he’s really starting to play with some good instincts”. He flies all over the field.
- Wesley Woodyard’s good play from last season continues as he is frequently seen shooting gaps in to the backfield to get to backs. He’s playing at a really high level right now.
- Inside linebacker Nick DeLuca has been moved to the offensive side of the ball, as he’s going to be working with the tight ends moving forward. The inside linebacker group is far too deep, and Vrabel said that he thinks DeLuca will have a better chance to help the team at tight end.
- Right now, the primary 2nd team safeties are Kendrick Lewis and Demontre Hurst, with Dane Cruikshank rotating in after that.
- Matt Dickerson, a UDFA defensive end from UCLA, flashed a little bit to me. He worked up with the 2nd team defensive line today and is very quick for his size at 6’-5” and 292 pounds.
Odds and Ends
- Ben Jones, Derrick Henry, Kevin Byard, and Corey Davis received offseason awards. Vrabel said that they got “a bunch of stuff, good stuff, whatever we can give them legally through the CBA, we gave’em”. He said the work those guys put in was above and beyond all offseason.
- After a pass interference penalty during 1-on-1’s the defensive backs had to do some up-downs. Mike Vrabel was with this group at the time and did the up-downs with the DBs. I thought that was pretty cool and now I think he’s the next Bill Belichick (kidding).
- We had a fake field goal sighting today!
FIRE UP THE COREY DAVIS HYPE TRAIN! CHOO CHOOOOOO!!!