After a rough practice for both the team as a whole and, in particular, Marcus Mariota on Monday, the team and its leader bounced back on Tuesday. Let’s get in to the stars, injury updates, and notes from camp practice number 11.
3rd Star: Logan Ryan
The #MMCNB Crew continues to shine as a unit. Today Logan Ryan probably made the play of the day when he jumped a Darius Jennings slant route on the goal line and grabbed what would have been a 90-yard plus interception return for a touchdown. Ryan has been disruptive throughout camp and really shined today.
2nd Star: Kevin Byard
Byard was a star of camp last year and I’ll admit that I’m probably taking his excellence for granted so far this summer, but today he was incredible, particularly when working against tight ends in man coverage. His one on one cover skills are elite and they showed when he stepped in front of a deep out to Jonnu Smith today to make a nice interception. He also had a nice pass break up working against Delanie Walker during 7-on-7’s. Byard is fantastic, but that should come as no surprise to anyone at this point.
1st Star: Derrick Henry
It’s sometimes hard to tell what kind of success a running game is having in camp. Players are coached to avoid going to ground and backs continue to run even after they would have realistically been stopped in a game. However, the running game was clearly clicking on all cylinders today as Henry found several big creases, especially on the left side. He also showed his exceptional speed, bouncing a touchdown run around the left side of the line during a red zone drill. Henry looks like a back in line to have a break out year.
- Corey Davis: Davis came out for walk through and stretching at the beginning of practice, but returned to the locker room after that. Davis coming out at all was a good sign, but I would say it’s safe to assume we won’t see 84 in action on Thursday night in Green Bay. That’s not a huge deal as Mariota and the starters are likely only getting a series or two anyway. Hopefully he’s back soon.
- Nate Palmer: Palmer was out today after leaving on a cart Monday. I don’t suspect we will be seeing him any time soon.
- Deontay Burnett: Burnett returned to practice today although his reps appeared to be somewhat limited. I’m not sure if we will see him Thursday or not. As a guy trying to push his way on the 53-man roster, I’m sure he’ll be begging to be out there if possible.
- Kendrick Lewis: Lewis remained out today.
- Sharif Finch: Finch returned to practice today and made some plays. Hopefully we see him on Thursday night.
- Brian Orakpo: No update on Rak as he continues to be held out with a shoulder injury.
- Rashaan Evans: No update on Evans either, he remains out.
- PUP List: Jack Conklin, Rishard Matthews
- Injured Reserve: Johnathan Cyprien, Tye Smith
- Mariota was much better today. He had a couple interceptions during team periods when Logan Ryan and Kevin Byard jumped routes, but the accuracy was back. We are also at the point in camp where the defense has been staring at the same route combinations for weeks and are starting to recognize stuff very quickly. He looked particularly sharp during a no huddle two-minute drill period when he hit Delanie Walker on three straight plays before connecting with Dion Lewis and Jonnu Smith to quickly move the team in to field goal range. Much better day overall for Mariota.
- I noted Jennings working with the first team offense yesterday, but it may have been even more pronounced today as most of the two wide receiver sets with the first team featured Taywan Taylor and Jennings with Tajae Sharpe working mostly with the second rotation of receivers.
- Jennings and Taylor both had some good success working intermediate routes for Mariota today.
- Another receiver that seems to be on the rise is UDFA Devin Ross. He got a few reps with the first team offense today which was a new development as far as I know. Ross had one of the best plays of the day while working with the second team though, hauling in a great throw from Blaine Gabbert down the sideline with Kalan Reed in tight coverage.
- Dion Lewis was featured in the passing game a good bit today. He was particularly effective working underneath the linebackers in red zone periods.
- Stating the obvious, but the drop off from Jack Conklin to Dennis Kelly is significant. That’s not a dig at Kelly — Conklin is a stud — but when the Titans have had protection issues in camp, most of them have come from the right side. Derrick Morgan beat Kelly quickly at one point today and would have had an easy sack.
- Akrum Wadley got free down the right side for a big gain on an outside zone run. Wadley will be fun to watch on Thursday.
- One concept that I’m loving from the Titans offense is a zone read from the pistol. I’ve already touched on this once, but it showed up again today. This time Mariota kept it and scooted around left end for a touchdown.
- Obviously it was a good day for the secondary with Byard and Ryan picking off passes in team period. Adoree Jackson continued his outstanding camp as well, making this interception during one-on-one’s.
It is hard to overstate just how impressive Jackson has been in camp.
- Another interception came from Rico Gafford during a second team rep in red zone 7-on-7’s as he peeled back to slip under a Blaine Gabbert pass to a wide receiver in the back of the end zone.
- Jason Thompson — the “other” new safety — picked off a tipped Luke Falk pass towards the end of practice.
- As I mentioned in the offense notes, Derrick Morgan got a quick win pass rushing against Dennis Kelly for a sack.
- Sharif Finch’s return to practice also saw him return to the backfield, getting good pressure on Blaine Gabbert during a red zone team period.
- Kenny Vaccaro was very clearly working as the second starting safety with Kevin Byard. He occasionally got paired with Dane Cruikshank when Byard would come out for a breather as well. Vaccaro already looks like he’s communicating well and knows where to be in the defense.
- Daren Bates had a really nice practice, getting a nice pass break up on a ball intended for Akrum Wadley and then later stepping up to make a nice stop in the hole on an inside run.
Odds and Ends
- The Titans had the music cranked up today for most of practice, theoretically preparing for road crowd noise on Thursday. While I’m guessing an August crowd in Lambeau won’t be too raucous it never hurts to get some of that work in early.
- The Titans kickoff their preseason slate this week with a road game in Green Bay on Thursday night. It’s a 7:00 PM Central Time kickoff.