Sports, Thrill of Victory

What have we learned from Titans training camp thus far?

Mike Mularkey and the Titans know what areas of need they have heading into the offseason. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

The Tennessee Titans began training camp on Saturday July 30th — six weeks after offseason practices in mid-June. The following are updates from the first week of camp.

Titans Facilities are Renovated

During the six-week interim between offseason practices and training camp, the Titans’ facilities were renovated, especially the team’s locker room.

The previous locker room was sectioned according to position, which made it difficult for the entire team to communicate. “Before we had [the locker room] blocked off … to where we barely would see the other side,” said Titans’ outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.

The new locker room is now entirely open, a vision that head coach Mike Mularkey had last season when he served as the Titans’ interim coach.

Mike Mularkey and the Tennessee Titans will hope to build a winning culture this season. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Mike Mularkey and the Tennessee Titans will hope to build a winning culture this season. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Other renovations at the Titans’ facility include a team fireball logo; a Vince Lombardi trophy with the words “One team. One goal;” flatscreen televisions; inspirational quotes on the walls; new turf at the indoor practice facility; and a new bubble at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Titans’ players have marveled at the changes since their return. They also appreciate that the renovations set a standard for success. “It gives a message that we’re turning the next chapter in this Titans’ organization,” said Orakpo. “We’re ready to have a winning tradition, a winning organization, a winning spirit — everything is first class.”

Titans Start Training Camp Strong

The Titans have started training camp well. Running back DeMarco Murray went as far to say that Saturday’s practice was one of the best first days at training camp he has experienced during his five-year NFL career.

“I thought there was a lot of energy, a lot of guys making a lot of plays,” Murray said. “It was definitely one of our best practices [and] first days that I’ve every been part of at training camp.”

One player with a particularly impressive return to camp is wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

DGB played most of last season heavy, at 237 pounds. He shed seven pounds by the start of OTAs and an additional two pounds by the start of training camp. At 6’6’’, DGB now weighs 228 pounds.

“He came [into training camp] at 228 pounds, which is the lightest he has been,” coach Mularkey said. “He looked very good and he ran very well in the conditioning test. We’re gonna do whatever we can, which is our jobs, to make him successful and I think what he’s done with his body, he’s taken a step in the right direction by himself, getting down to the way and getting into the shape he looks.”

DBG attributes his weight loss to working out with his older brother Kingsley Ehie, a current member of the U.S. Army and former linebacker at West Point.

Andre Johnson, Titans Reach Contract Agreement

When Andre Johnson and the Tennessee Titans agreed to terms on Friday July 29th, the details of his contract were unknown. On the fifth day of training camp, Terry McCormick of reported the financial terms of the deal.

Johnson and the Titans agreed to a two-year contract worth $3,735,000.

Johnson’s contract is back-loaded, meaning that his base salary increases from 2016 ($985,000) to 2017 ($2,000,000). Bonuses also kick in during the second year, when Johnson receives a $500,000 roster bonus on the third day of the 2017 season and up to $250,000 in additional bonuses depending on the number of games he’s active.

The Titans appear to have back-loaded the contract as a form of safety. If Johnson becomes injured or underperforms, the Titans can nullify the contract at the end of the 2016 regular season, which would effectively save the organization $2,750,000.

The Tennessee Titans added a veteran presence to the wide receiver unit by signing Andre Johnson. PHOTO COURTESY ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Tennessee Titans have added a veteran presence to the wide receiving core by signing Andre Johnson. PHOTO COURTESY ASSOCIATED PRESS

Thus far, during his short tenure in Tennessee, Johnson has made some impressive catches and has given Dorial Green-Beckham guidance, which is particularly helpful says DGB since “[they] play similar games” as larger receivers.

Wright, Dodd, and Wallace are Injured

Kendall Wright: On the fourth day of training, Wright tweaked his left hamstring. Wright is expected to miss some practices, but there is no indication that the injury is serious. In the meantime, Harry Douglas has filled Wright’s role at the slot receiver.

Kevin Dodd: The Titans selected Dodd out of Clemson with No. 33 pick of the 2016 Draft. During OTAs, the rookie linebacker had surgery on his right foot to repair a stress fracture. Dodd was projected to be healthy by the start of training camp, but his return has been delayed. He is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List and hopes to return to practice soon.

Aaron Wallace: The Titans selected Wallace out of UCLA in the seventh round of the 2016 Draft. On the third day of training camp, the rookie linebacker suffered a high ankle sprain. X-rays revealed no fracture, and Wallace hopes to return for the Titans’ first preseason game on August 13th.

O-Line, Pass-Rushers Conduct 3-vs-3 Competitions

Each week the Titans plan to hold a three vs. three O-Line competition, in which three offensive linemen perform one-on-one drills against three pass-rushers. The winner is awarded a WWE-style championship belt. 

On Monday, rookie offensive tackle Jack Conklin won his one-on-one matchup versus linebacker Derrick Morgan to edge the win and the WWE belt to the O-Line.

These competitions are likely intended to improve play from the Titans’ offensive line, which ranked among the worst in the NFL last season. We’ll see if the pass-rushers redeem themselves next week.