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Titans say they aren't just talking about changes, they're making them

Jon Robinson: "The aesthetic improvements that we've made, to the locker room, the new bubble, when they walk in, I think that's just going to further cement the message that we are trying to preach to these guys: That stuff is different around here." AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In 2014, the Tennessee Titans sold hope and a new coach and told us why things would be better. And they won two games.

In 2015, the Titans sold hope and a second year of a new regime and told us why things would be better. And they won three games.

In 2016, they have a new general manager in Jon Robinson and a new coach in Mike Mularkey, who finished 2015 as the interim coach.

Even with the changes, the logical question is: Why should anyone believe in the optimistic talk coming out of team headquarters?

There are rainbows landing on every facility in the league in the days before training camp. The Titans report to camp on Friday and practice Saturday.

Why are the pretty colors anything more than an annual illusion?

"When you shine up a new penny, it's still a penny," Robinson said. "When you take over a program that's finished not well the last couple years, you can talk about change and that there is hope on the horizon. But you have to change the culture.

"We've brought in guys that are similar in mindset to mine and Mike's in Ben Jones, in Rashad Johnson, in Jack Conklin, in Austin Johnson, in Kevin Dodd, all those guys. It's the same mindset. There are no divas in the group. It's a bunch of guys that want to work hard and that want to win."

That's good in terms of new people in the mix.

But there are plenty of players in the locker room who Robinson and Mularkey inherit, and Robinson knows convincing those players about a new direction takes more than talk.

"We've talked about change since January, and I think from an aesthetic standpoint, when you talk about change to players that have been here a while, it becomes lip service unless they see something," Robinson said. "So I think the moves that we made in the offseason kind of sparkled their eyes a little bit: 'This is going to be different.' The aesthetic improvements that we've made, to the locker room, the new bubble, when they walk in, I think that's just going to further cement the message that we are trying to preach to these guys: That stuff is different around here.

"We want to be a first-class organization. And the locker room, the hallways around here, it's become an impressive facility."

The new practice bubble is likely to go up this week over new turf that's already been put down. The overall upgrades are about 98 percent done, Robinson said.

"The locker room is awesome," he said. "It's a whole theme that flows throughout the corridors of the building. It's pretty cool: tough; dependable; team first."

Cornerback Jason McCourty has been around since 2009 and heard plenty of talk of how things would be different.

How is the current talk of change different than previous talk?

"There has just been more change than typically," McCourty said as the Titans wrapped up their offseason in June. "When you get a new GM, that's a bigger shakeup than just changing coaches. There has been more change as far as what's gone on around the building.

"Getting a new locker room, getting a new bubble, they're talking even of replacing our practice field. For us as players, we kind of appreciate that. We've made comments about opening up the locker room for the last few years. Seeing all those types of things get done is exciting as a player.

"But at this time of year, all 32 teams are going to be 16-0, all 32 teams are going to the Super Bowl. That's the mindset you have to have, and that's the mindset we all have right now."