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Titans Training Camp: The first team defense dominates on day seven of camp

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What stood out from Friday’s practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

NFL: Tennessee Titans-Training Camp Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Today was a relatively light day of work for the Titans as players were in “shells” instead of full pads and spent several periods working situational football along with a few that were closer to walk through speed than full contact. With a scrimmage on deck at Nissan Stadium tomorrow night and a relentless sun beating down on the practice fields, that seems like a smart strategic decision from Mike Vrabel, but it did make for a relatively dull session from a spectator’s point of view.

The biggest news from the day came when top wide receiver Corey Davis jogged off the field following individual periods early in practice, ending his day early. It turns out that Davis’ exit was planned as part of the team’s maintenance plan for him. This was a routine part of last year’s camp and it worked as No. 84 played all 16 games without issue in 2018.

As usual, we’ll start with the injury updates and then get into the clips and takeaways.

Injury Updates

Jack Conklin and Delanie Walker returned to action after being given a day off yesterday. Like Davis and some of the other older veterans, these guys are going to get some maintenance days from time to time. Rodger Saffold, Wesley Woodyard, and Cameron Wake are also part of that group and they had days off today. There shouldn’t be anything to worry about there.

Below are the guys that we are tracking with injury issues.

  • Cameron Batson: Batson was placed on the Injured Reserve list with a broken collarbone earlier this week. He’s unlikely to return until late in the season at the very earliest.
  • Jurrell Casey, Jonnu Smith, Jeffery Simmons, and Ryan Succop: All of these guys remain on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list due to knee injuries of various severity.
  • A.J. Brown: Brown remains out with a leg injury suffered on the first day of training camp. He spent the day watching from the sidelines with his teammates with no apparent limp.
  • Derrick Henry: Henry remains out with a calf strain suffered on the first day of training camp. He’s reportedly expected to miss about two weeks total (that’s two weeks of camp, not the regular season). We did get our first Henry sighting though as the big running back emerged after practice to take a turn on the JUGS machine. He was wearing a sleeve on his injured left leg, but this seems like relatively positive news.
  • Dennis Kelly: Kelly returned to practice today after leaving early yesterday with a stomach bug. He seemed fine, taking most of the first team reps at left tackle as the team prepares for Taylor Lewan’s looming four game suspension.
  • Nate Davis: Davis left practice early yesterday and was not present today. We have no hints about what he might be dealing with at this time.
  • Kamalei Correa: Correa missed his second straight practice. Like Davis, no word on what his ailment might be.
  • Frank Herron: Herron was absent again today and was reportedly spotted in a walking boot, though we do not know the specific injury he’s dealing.
  • David Fluellen: Fluellen is the lone new addition to the injury list today as he limped off with a trainer.

Video Clips

Arthur Smith looking on while Marcus Mariota works on dealing with distractions in the pocket.

Corey Davis and Adam Humphries catching some passes against air.

Big Takeaways

As I mentioned up top, this wasn’t a particularly spectator friendly practice. The Titans didn’t have as many live periods as they usually do, but there is still some good information that is worth passing along.

Offense

  • The starting offensive line with Saffold on a maintenance day and Davis out with some sort of ailment was Dennis Kelly, Jamil Douglas, Ben Jones, Kevin Pamphile, and Jack Conklin from left to right.
  • With Corey Davis sitting out team periods today, a few wide receivers got some extra run with the first team offense. Kalif Raymond and Darius Jennings seemed to be the two that spent the most time on the field with Adam Humphries and Tajae Sharpe as part of Marcus Mariota’s group. Raymond continues to be one of the biggest risers in camp. He made several nice grabs today and drew a pass interference call in the end zone.
  • Jeremy McNichols continues to see a lot of work and put together a few nice runs today.
  • There hasn’t been much said about Taylor Lewan throughout training camp (besides the suspension talk), but he looks as dominant as ever and maybe playing even more pissed off than usual. He buried a couple edge rushers during a one-on-one pass rushing drill.
  • During that same drill Aaron Stinnie and Rashaan Evans had some really good battles, with Stinnie knocking Evans’ helmet off twice. The second time, Evans got some ribbing from his teammates about his bald head not being able to keep a helmet on.
  • Marcus Mariota had a really nice dart to Delanie Walker for a touchdown inside the 10-yard line during a team period. He squeezed it in a tight spot between two defenders. It’s good to see that combination back together.
  • I felt like the first team offensive line struggled in pass protection today without the services of Saffold and Lewan. There were a lot of bodies in the backfield during live team periods.
  • Recently added receiver Papi White made a couple nice grabs today. He’s small-but-quick.
  • Towards the end of practice the Titans put the offense in a two-minute drill situation, asking them to drive from their own 25-yard line with 1:25 on the clock and just one timeout remaining. After a good start on a 12-yard strike from Mariota to Humphries, the wheels fell off for the first team group. Mariota missed Jennings, had a pass intended for Dion Lewis batted away by Jayon Brown, and then was sacked by DaQuan Jones and Rashaan Evans. Given a second chance by a penalty call, the offense struggled again, having a pass intended for Humphries knocked away by Logan Ryan, followed by a sack by Ryan, and then a missed throw over the head of Anthony Firkser.
  • The second team group did much better, quickly maneuvering into field goal range on connections from Ryan Tannehill to Firkser, Raymond, and MyCole Pruitt, but Austin Barnard pushed the 40-ish yard attempt wide right.

Defense

  • Today was a great day for the defense, particularly the first team group. They dominated the two-minute drill at the end of practice and seemed to leave very little space in the secondary throughout the day.
  • Jayon Brown stood out the most among the starters. He had two sacks in an early team period and had the pass breakup during the late two-minute drill. He continues to be fantastic in the middle of the Titans defense.
  • A guy that really stood out among the reserves was undrafted rookie edge rusher Derick Roberson. I’ve been singing Roberson’s praises since prior to the draft and he showed out today during the one-on-one pass rushing drills, beating tackle A.T. Hall convincingly off the edge twice in a row with terrific speed rushes. Beating Hall isn’t exactly the same as beating a guy like Lewan, but Roberson’s get off and bend is undeniable. He also added a pressure during team period. Roberson is a firmly on my radar as a guy to watch in preseason.
  • D’Andre Walker also earned some praise from outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen for a nice bendy move during the one-on-one period.
  • Rashaan Evans is most certainly going to get some opportunities to rush the passer on passing downs. The Titans showcased several packages that featured Evans on the line of scrimmage getting after the passer.
  • Logan Ryan, Tye Smith, Kenneth Durden, and Adoree’ Jackson all had impressive pass breakups today during team periods. It was a very good day for the cornerbacks.
  • Cornerback Joshua Kalu saw some work at safety today. He’s a guy that seems to be lingering around what I would consider the fringe of the 53-man roster and having some positional versatility can only help his cause.