NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tennessee Titans training camp:
The off-white walls of the outside of the Titans practice facility had added some black streaks over the years. When I came by about 10 days ago, a crew was cleaning one of them. I looked up this morning and saw the walls all over were clean. It’s nice symbolism for the fresh start/blank canvass the Titans have under Ken Whisenhunt as things got started.
Marc Mariani dropped the first pass thrown his way but recovered to have a nice day, including a deep ball from Jake Locker over Tommie Campbell in that same one-on-one session. He also caught a great pass again over Campbell, right at the end of practice. (I got a miracle picture of that one.)
I watched the defensive backs, particularly the corners in individual period. More on that later. But defensive coordinator Ray Horton came over, chimed in with a few thoughts, watched a bit and moved on. The guy is super comfortable, confidant and clear.
Safety George Wilson was excused because of a death in the family. He is expected to rejoin the team this evening, coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
Pollard had an interception in one-on-ones, easily cutting in front of Craig Stevens to take away a Locker throw. Later, in team, the defense loaded up as if to blitz, saw Locker adjust the play, backed out after the snap, and Pollard picked off a deep throw for Delanie Walker. “We don’t have a plan for what the defense is doing,” Whisenhunt said of that play. “It’s not like you are preparing for a game and you see their certain patterns and you know to look for those things. So those are going to happen. Kamerion Wimbley dropped a pick chance of a Locker pass I think was for Walker.
Those three moments were really the only three bad ones for Locker, who showed good command, threw a lot of nice passes and will get largely positive feedback off his first-practice efforts.
Byron Stingily and rookie first-rounder Taylor Lewan got the first team reps at left guard, where Andy Levitre is out for up to two weeks after having his appendix removed on Thursday. Lewan said additional reps are a positive and working between left tackle Michael Roos and center Brian Schwenke is educational. He worked a lot against Jurrell Casey, the Titans best pass rusher. “He’s a hell of a player,” Lewan said. “That will help me at left tackle.”
There were no real lineup surprises. And things could be vastly different tomorrow. Jackie Battle worked ahead of Collin Mooney at fullback. Derrick Morgan and Wimbley were the front-line outside linebackers, with Wesley Woodyard and Zach Brown between them. The first defensive line was Ropati Pitoitua, Sammie Hill and Casey. Whisenhunt told the team not to pay attention to the depth chart at this point.
Coty Sensabaugh worked as the starting cornerback opposite Jason McCourty ahead of Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Whisenhunt said competitive positions will rotate day-to-day or even period-to-period. No one will hold a position in the pecking order for more than a day at a time.
Running back Bishop Sankey got rookie treatment. He was lower down the pecking order than he will likely wind up. Shonn Greene said the team wanted him to get back in the swing of things and gave him three reps per period as opposed to two for other guys. “I feel pretty normal,” he said after missing the offseason because of knee surgery. “I was kind of rusty here and there.”
In a seven-on-seven period, receiver Justin Hunter made one, great, leaping sideline catch over Sensabaugh. It was just the kind of play they are hoping he can make with regularity in his second season.
Under a big pass rush, Whitehurst dropped deep and looped a dump off to the right to Leon Washington, who ran for a big gain behind a nice caravan of blockers.
I thought in base personnel with two wide receivers, the Titans put both on the same side of the field quite a bit.
The defense was disappointed to give up so many deep balls. At one point Horton said, “They cannot catch deep balls, men. Can’t.” Said Campbell: “We gave up too many today. It’s unacceptable. We’ve got to do a better job tomorrow. Just stay on top of the route.”
Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Levon Kirkland is now a coach at Florida A&M. He will help the Titans out at linebacker early in camp as part of the league’s minority coaching internship program.