The Titans were back in action today at Saint Thomas Sports Park after a day off on Tuesday and the pads were popping in what was a very physical and competitive practice. I have plenty of takeaways to share with you below, but we will start with an injury update.
The big update here is that wide receiver/kick returner Cameron Batson is being put on IR due to a broken collarbone suffered on Wednesday.
Depending on the severity of the injury, collarbones can take anywhere from four to six weeks for a relatively minor break that does not require surgery to three-plus months for larger fractures that require plates and screws.
We do not currently know the extent of Batson’s injury, but with the team immediately moving him to IR, it’s safe to say he’s going to be out for a while. It’s a very unfortunate development for a guy that I think was on his way to making the 53-man roster for a second straight season.
- A.J. Brown: No real update here. Brown missed practice again, but came out afterwards to get in some work on the JUGS machine. He walked around pretty easily with no noticeable limp and I have to assume that he’s not going to be on the shelf for too much longer.
- Derrick Henry: Henry was also held out of practice again. No surprise here after the report yesterday that he would miss approximately two weeks with a calf strain. However, Henry did come out to sign some autographs for fans after practice and was not wearing a walking boot, so there’s that.
- Jeffery Simmons: No change. He remains on the PUP.
- Jurrell Casey: No change. He remains on the PUP.
- Jonnu Smith: No change. He remains on the PUP.
- Ryan Succop: No change. He remains on the PUP.
- Amani Bledsoe: Returned to the practice field today.
Here are a few of the video clips that I was able to get out at practice during the one-on-one sessions.
We’ll start with a beautiful route by Adam Humphries, beating Logan Ryan on a fade stop on the goal line. His feet were as advertised and I think there is going to be a big role for him in his offense.
Adam Humphries with a nice goal line route pic.twitter.com/aaDe3zXAsD— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) July 31, 2019
Here is a rep of Corey Davis versus Malcolm Butler in the same drill. The ball is overthrown here, but Butler is in outstanding position on the play and earns some praise from defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs afterwards.
Malcolm Butler with a one on one win against Corey Davis pic.twitter.com/Y3JDf8sqct— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) July 31, 2019
One more shot from the goal line one-on-one’s and this one is Kalif Raymond matched up against Dane Cruikshank. Raymond gets him with a slick double move and then hauls in the pass for the touchdown.
Slick double move from Kalif Raymond (one of the guys that stands to benefit from Cam Batson’s injury) pic.twitter.com/hkI2N0Ycgc— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) July 31, 2019
- The Titans continued to tinker with their offensive line rotation today as the top group consisted of Dennis Kelly, Rodger Saffold, Corey Levin, Ben Jones, and Jack Conklin from left to right. Based on the first five practices it seems that Kelly (Lewan after four weeks), Saffold, Jones, and Conklin are all pretty locked into starting spots, but the fifth spot is a wide open battle between Kevin Pamphile, Jamil Douglas, Aaron Stinnie, Corey Levin, and Nate Davis. Mike Vrabel doesn’t seem to expect to this competition to be resolved any time soon either.
- Speaking of the offensive line, I spent a good amount of time watching Jack Conklin today and I thought he looked really good. He matched up with Sharif Finch and Cameron Wake for most of the day and seemed to handle himself well. I’ll keep an eye on him again on Friday, but I was impressed with what I saw from No. 78.
- Marcus Mariota was pretty good today as well. There weren’t too many “wow” throws, but he appeared to be pretty accurate throughout the day. He does seem significantly more comfortable in this offense compared to where he was this time last year (which you’d expect).
- At wide receiver, we didn’t get any spectacular Corey Davis grabs today, but he was very good once again. Davis had a nice leaping catch on a deep out route despite tight coverage from Malcolm Butler and added a touchdown during a red zone team period.
- I think the wide receiver pecking order is pretty concrete at the top with Davis, Humphries, and Tajae Sharpe as the starters — at least until A.J. Brown gets healthy and worked into the offense — and Taywan Taylor as a rotational player who can serve a role as an early down deep threat. With Batson’s injury, the door is now pretty wide open for a few players that I expect to be competing for the sixth wide receiver spot: Darius Jennings, Anthony Ratliff-Williams, and Kalif Raymond. All three of those guys made big catches during the practice today and all three offer value in the return game on special teams. It’ll be interesting to see how this battle shakes out.
- A couple notes about the tight ends... MyCole Pruitt got most of the work with the starters alongside Delanie Walker when the Titans were in 12 personnel. Pruitt is a solid blocker, but he looks painfully slow at times as a pass catcher. Anthony Firkser continues to be open all the time when he’s on the field. He got some work with the 1’s as well. It will be interesting to see who has their role impacted more when Jonnu Smith returns.
- Cole Wick had a nice touchdown grab up the seam from Ryan Tannehill in the red zone period. He’s a tall, lanky tight end. Parker Hesse — the converted defensive end from Iowa — got a rep or two with the first team offense today which was interesting.
- Ryan Tannehill has a big time arm. He launched a bomb down the seam to a streaking Taywan Taylor during a team period that probably should have been caught. The Titans should be in pretty good shape with him if Mariota goes down.
- Taywan Taylor also had a bad drop on a dig route, but followed it up with a nice grab the very next play. He continues to be inconsistent.
- Logan Woodside had some nice throws as well. He certainly appears to have an NFL level arm, something that we certainly couldn’t say for Luke Falk last year. Woodside hit Ratliff-Williams down the left sideline for one of the biggest gains of the day.
- I didn’t notice a ton from the new wide receivers today — Tanner McEvoy and Papi White — but I can tell you that McEvoy is massive. He is listed at 6’-6” and 230 pounds and appears to be every bit of that.
- Dalyn Dawkins had a really nice touchdown run on a read option dive, finding running room behind Kevin Pamphile and Jamil Douglas.
- BIG DIME AND BIG NICKEL ARE HERE. I wrote about this at length earlier this week, but the three safety looks are coming in 2019. We saw rookie Amani Hooker rotating in pretty early with the first team defense as part of a package that included Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro, Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, and Adoree’ Jackson. That’s a personnel combination that is extraordinarily versatile, particularly when combined with linebackers Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown.
- Hooker looked to be around the ball frequently during the team periods and I think he’s going to have a significant role in the defense from day one. Vrabel complimented him after practice for picking up the defense quickly and avoiding repetitive mistakes.
- I thought the most impressive player on the defense today was Harold Landry. He got what would have been a sack on Mariota during the red zone period using an inside move and then also corralled the quarterback for what would have been a big loss on a naked boot when he didn’t bite on the play fake. I think the breakout season is coming.
- Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson both had really nice days on defense. Jackson had a nice pass break up on a dig route intended for Corey Davis.
- Cameron Wake and Kenny Vaccaro combined on a quarterback pressure that forced a throwaway from Marcus Mariota during the red zone period.
- Defensive lineman Matt Dickerson looks bigger this season and spent a good amount of time working high in the rotation. Dickerson, DaQuan Jones, Brent Urban, and Austin Johnson dominated the first team reps along the defensive line.
- Speaking of Urban, he got a great inside pressure working against Pamphile that likely would have been a sack or throwaway. He looks like a guy who is going to help this defense.
- Dane Cruikshank pulled restrained himself from laying what would have been a huge hit on a receiver crossing the middle of the field during a team period. It’s a good thing he did, because he looked like he was shot from a cannon breaking on the ball.
- LaDarius Wiley appeared to be the fifth safety in the rotation and he had a great rep in man coverage against Anthony Firkser, getting a hand in to break up the pass.
- The Titans had a ton of players back catching kickoffs during an early special teams period. I noted Raymond, Ratliff-Williams, Jennings, Taylor, Jackson, D’Andre Payne, and Dion Lewis back deep. We will probably learn more about that spot as we get into preseason action.
- Mike Vrabel told the media that the Titans will be having a scrimmage on Saturday night at Nissan Stadium. One team will be led by Marcus Mariota and DaQuan Jones, while the other is captained by David Fluellen and Matt Dickerson. Vrabel picked those players to be captains as part of their reward for earning offseason workout awards from the coaching staff. Jones — who Vrabel said was very close to earning an offseason award — replaced Batson in this group. The captains will pick teams school yard style and then play for bragging rights Saturday night. That event is free and open to the fans and will be followed by a Jake Owen concert.