Brian Orakpo at the heart of Titans' defensive surge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Over the Tennessee Titans' past four practice days, the defense has elevated its play.

It's an indication things are clicking for a group that technically has five new starters from last season.

Outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, cornerback Perrish Cox and strong safety Da'Norris Searcy are newcomers. Inside linebacker Zach Brown was lost to a pectoral injury on the first defensive series of 2014 and is back in place. And 2014 fourth-round defensive end DaQuan Jones has been elevated to the starting lineup.

That's a good share of turnover, and while new assistant head coach/defense Dick LeBeau does well to simplify the complicated, the group clearly needed some time working on his scheme.

"We're starting to click, absolutely," Orakpo said. "We're communicating. We're a team that's very physical defensively, and this defense is somewhat challenging on everybody. Everybody has to be on the same page to run it right. Everyone is communicating and we're having very minimal busts out there. Guys are really talking, when they change formations or give us a different look, guys are communicating to get the calls right and that's really contributing to us making plays."

Orapko missed the most important offseason work as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn pec, and he's shaken off the early rust and looks in fine form.

He said he's not fully back, but he's close.

"Everything is coming back natural for me and I feel great," he said. "Health-wise I am great, my footwork, my rushing ability, my coverage, everything I need where I need it to be is here. Now I just need to carry it through the preseason and into the season."

Orakpo's play and presence is big for the whole defense. He's the sort of guy who can be contagious and have a trickle-down effect on the defense.

As for one defensive "issue," that I'm fielding a ton of questions about, Orakpo echoed safety Michael Griffin from a few days ago regarding Marcus Mariota's streak without an interception at camp.

Mariota was 10-for-14 Tuesday without a pick and is 109-for-174 through camp in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work without an interception, though some chances have been dropped.

"That's good for us in the long run, I hope he keeps it up, I hope he keeps it up through the season," Orakpo said. "He's very intelligent, makes very few mistakes out there and he's making smart decisions. I couldn't care less if we don't get a pick this whole camp. That's good for us in the long run because we need Marcus to have the type of confidence to go out there and get ready for a tremendous regular season."