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Titans Training Camp: Nissan Stadium Practice Breakdown

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The much anticipated Titans Kickoff Party at Nissan Stadium feature all sorts of fun. There were puppies, BBQ, football, and of course good music. Thunder and lightning tried to ruin the night, but the Titans and many loyal fans stuck it out for Saturday’s practice at Nissan Stadium.

For those unfamiliar with the details of event (as far as football goes), the Titans “drafted” two teams from their roster to face off, Blue vs White. This gave many Titans players a chance to log some snaps alongside players they wouldn’t typical face in a normal practice. First, second, and third team players were all mixed together, which made for some interesting match-ups all night long.

If you’ve been following along in my Titan positional breakdown series you may be looking for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd team reps. Those obviously won’t be relevant for this practice in particular, but we’ll break down each position nonetheless.

Quarterback

Marcus Mariota kicked off the scrimmage with a strong first drive for the White team. He went six for seven, with his only incompletion coming on a throw away to avoid taking a sack. Mariota connected with Tajae Sharpe four times on that opening drive, including the 10-yard touchdown in the back right corner of the end zone. However, after that drive, Mariota struggled mightily. He would only complete two more passes on his other three drives. The Blue team’s defense was wreaking havoc all night, but Mariota certainly didn’t look too sharp outside of a nice throw late to Sharpe again on a corner route about 20 yards downfield.

Ryan Tannehill, on the other hand, started out pretty rough and got better as the night progressed. He found Taywan Taylor and Mycole Pruitt early, but had a couple awful misses on two throws shortly thereafter. One of them would have been a score to Pruitt. Delanie really found his rhythm when he started targeting Delanie Walker. He hit walker three times in one drive and that obviously gave Tannehill some confidence moving forward. However, Tannehill’s numbers were still pretty putrid until the final two plays of the night in red zone offense. There he managed to close out the night with two touchdowns to Darius Jennings and Jeremy McNichols.

Logan Woodside looked like an inexperience backup in his limited action. He went just three for six with fourteen yards through the air.

Over all the quarterbacks struggled. The rain certainly may have contributed to that, but looking at these statistics, this kind of play won’t cut it in-season.

Quarterback Stats

Quarterback Pass Completions Pass Attempts Completion % Pass Yards Pass TDs Rush Attempts Rush Yards
Quarterback Pass Completions Pass Attempts Completion % Pass Yards Pass TDs Rush Attempts Rush Yards
Marcus Mariota 8 15 53.3% 83 1 1 0
Ryan Tannehill 12 22 54.5% 124 2 0 0
Logan Woodside 3 6 50.0% 14 0 3 12

Running Back

Derrick Henry was still sidelined (as expected), so that left ample opportunity for other running backs to prove themselves. However, really it seemed that the Titans were only interested in giving two backs extended looks throughout the night: Jeremy McNichols and Dalyn Dawkins. Those two alone accounted for 13 of 16 running back carries and all but five yards on the ground for the Titans.

Dawkins started off with a couple decent gains for four and five yards on the White team’s strong initial drive. He also scampered for a nice 20-yard gain via a cutback lane to the left side of the offensive line. However, his other four carries went for -2, 0, 0, and 0. Dawkins churns his legs hard on every play, but he that 20-yard run was truly the only special play I have seen him make all camp.

Jeremy McNichols on the other hand did not break off a 20-yard run, but earned consistent positive yardage on all seven of his carries on the night. He also added two receptions for 22 yards and a touchdown late. As I mentioned in another positional breakdown, McNichols caught over 100 receptions in college. That balanced skill set looks like that may earn him a roster spot.

Alex Barnes tallied one carry of 0 yards and still looks like the easiest cut at the position. Fluellen and Lewis logged minimal snaps.

Wide Receiver & Tight End

Corey Davis took the night off, so that left plenty of opportunity for targets in the receiving game. Sadly, almost no one took advantage.

Tajae Sharpe was the one bright spot for the Titans at receiver. He grabbed four receptions on the opening drive alone and scored the first touchdown of the night. Sharpe also burned Kenneth Durden (normally a backup) on a corner route for about twenty yards late as well. He clearly wants to stay on the field when 2nd round rookie receiver AJ Brown gets healthy.

Taywan Taylor had a rough night, but he played hard. Taylor almost made an impressive catch early on fighting through what would be called defensive pass interference. He almost caught a touchdown late with Kareem Orr in coverage. There were several “almosts” for him. Taylor did make a sliding catch over the middle, and was credited (by the announcer) with another, but it was actually Anthony Ratliff-Williams. One catch on five targets sounds brutal, if he converted just one more close play things would have looked a lot better.

Adam Humphries hasn’t struggled to get open for much of camp, but only saw one reception for 12 yards. He was targeted in the end zone by Mariota late in practice, but Rashaan Evans made a diving play to avoid allowing the score. Humphries is still entrenched as the team’s go-to slot option.

All other Titans receivers caught one or zero receptions. Darius Jennings did save Tannehill on the second to last play of the night attacking the ball in the end zone for a touchdown though.

It was good to see Delanie Walker catching balls in Nissan Stadium again. He caught three receptions from Tannehill all on one drive, and almost scored a touchdown on his third. That third reception set up the offense for an easy chip shot field goal. Delanie looks like he’s back up to full speed, ready to be “Mr. Reliable” for the Titans again.

The other tight ends didn’t do much, but saw plenty of snaps. Firkser usually catches everything, but he dropped what would have been an easy touchdown up the seam and finished with just two catches for 11 yards on six targets. Pruitt, on the other hand, caught two receptions for 26 yards, and would have scored a touchdown if Tannehill wouldn’t have overthrown him by two full yards on his third target. Ryan Hewitt saw three targets as well, but only turned them into nine yards.

Let’s take a closer look at how the receiving yards and targets were spread around.

Titans Receiving Distribution

Receiving Stats Targets Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving Touchdowns
Receiving Stats Targets Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving Touchdowns
Tajae Sharpe 5 5 59 1
Delanie Walker 5 3 35 0
Mycole Pruitt 3 2 26 0
Jeremy McNichols 2 2 22 1
Anthony Ratliff-Williams 1 1 14 0
Darius Jennings 2 1 12 1
Adam Humphries 3 1 12 0
Anthony Firsker 6 2 11 0
Ryan Hewitt 3 2 9 0
Taywan Taylor 5 1 6 0
Kalif Raymond 3 1 6 0
Cole Wick 1 1 5 0
Papi White 2 1 3 0
Cody Hollister 2 0 0 0
Jalen Tolliver 1 0 0 0

Offensive Line

The offensive line struggled as a whole on the night. White team gave up at least two sacks, and three other plays that likely could or should have counted as sacks (no tackling). The Blue team gave up one sack and a handful of hurries. There weren’t any significant blunders by any one lineman really, but the varying combinations on the line didn’t make consistency easily attainable. Plus, Sharif Finch and Harold Landry were monsters the entire practice.

Linebackers

Speaking of Finch and Landry, those two should have been co-defensive MVPs on the night. Finch logged at least two sacks and possibly shared another. Harold Landry tackled Mariota right at the line of scrimmage wide left for a “sack” or at least a run for no gain. Landry also about knocked out tight end Ryan Hewitt, logged a couple more stops, and was in Mariota’s face frequently. Those two could end up being a formidable duo this season.

The inside backers didn’t have a bad night either. Rashaan Evans, Darren Bates, and Jayon Brown all defended at least one pass. Evans made a diving play to stop a touchdown on a target intended for Adam Humphries. Woodyard made a couple stops. Brown shoved a lineman into Tannehill forcing a bad throw. Bates logged a half sack. The linebacker position is looking good.

Defensive Line

Most of the best plays made by the defensive line were made by backups.

Isaiah Mack grabbed a sack against Tannehill on the Blue team’s second offensive drive, further cementing the fact that he deserves a spot on the active roster.

Amanie Bledsoe had multiple stops, one for a loss of two yards standing up Dalyn Dawkins.

Through a week of practices the top four defensive lineman have been DaQuon Jones, Matt Dickerson, Austin Johnson, and Brent Urban. But now that Braxton Hoyett, Isaiah Mack, and Amani Bledsoe keep making plays the Titans are going to have some tough roster decisions to make here soon.

Defensive Backs

Last, but not least, the defensive backs put up a solid effort for most of practice.

Both Malcolm Butler and Tye Smith drew defensive pass interference penalties on deep balls, but both were in decent position to make a play on the ball.

Kenneth Durden had a rough night, allowing at least two catches to Tajae Sharpe, and taking a bad angle trying stop Dalyn Dawkins in the run game.

However, beyond that, the defensive backs forced all the Titans quarterbacks to hold the ball too long. And even when the ball did get out there were several passes defended. Kevin Byard made a couple good plays in coverage (one deflection). LeShaun Sims and Kareem Orr both had at least two passes defended. Kareem Orr has been running mostly with the third team defense so far in camp, but he might just be rising after the scrimmage. Why? He stopped two potential touchdowns (one target to Taylor, one to Papi White).

The defensive backs were just the icing on the cake to a win for the defense on a rainy Saturday evening.

Expect more breakdowns here soon! Find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM for more Titans talk!