NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Football players live a big portion of their life with video cameras aimed at them.
Those who lose track of that get periodic reminders.
“I tell our guys we watch and evaluate everything they do, on the field, in the meeting room, how they wrote in their notebooks,” Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.
“Our equipment guys want the jerseys first thing when they walk off the field; they have a bin on the field near the door. One day I was watching. Every single guy but one threw his jersey in the bin. I made a comment that night just about all we watch. I said, ‘Who did not?’ And the guy said, ‘I didn’t.’”
Working so much on film is a major learning tool, said veteran linebacker Brian Orakpo.
“It teaches you responsibility, it teaches you maturity, it teaches you how to be a man,” he said. “It teaches you how to be accountable, most importantly. If you’re the only jersey that is on the floor, make sure you pick it up. And if the guy thinks it went in the bin, make sure you let him know so he won’t do it again."
Players generally know coaches and scouts watch how they line up for drills. Do they work to get to the front of the line, where they’ll be seen sooner and, if it’s a situation in which they are going against someone, will get a tougher matchup? Or do they hang back, get more of a breather and maybe get an easier opponent?
I wondered about the protocol of an eager young guy looking to impress who wants to move up in the line. How can he show off his eagerness and willingness to get a tougher matchup without ticking off older players he might be getting in front of?
“Usually, it’s just the first guy that is reserved for your veteran guy,” Horton said. “The first guy is kind of the alpha dog, if you will. Reserved for the respect of the captain, the leader, the elder. After that it’s just how they feel.
“After that, I don’t think anybody would say anything. They’re not going to let a rookie up there for sure. But as you go, you just have confidence and you just step up.”
Kendall Wright is typically at the head of the line for receivers.
“I just try to jump up every time,” undrafted rookie receiver Andrew Turzilli said. “If I get pulled back by a veteran or get pulled back by a coach, that’s fine. But as long as I just show that I want to get up there first and that I am eager to get to the front of the line. I think that shows a lot to the coaches.
Veteran receiver Harry Douglas was once that eager young guy as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. He said veteran Brian Finneran would call attention to it and put him in a more proper place in the order.
It’s not a huge deal, but there is diplomacy involved.
When Orakpo was in Washington and teammates with London Fletcher, he might go second but never went first if Fletcher wanted to lead off.
“You’ve got to respect the process,” Orakpo said. “Some veterans like to be first to set the example for the rest for the group, and some veterans like to finish. Respect what those guys want to do. I’m a guy who likes to start at the front of the line. Don’t jump in front of me. But work your ass off. If you want to get right behind me, that’s fine.”
Things sort themselves out if multiple guys are trying to get closer to the front. Make more plays and you earn the higher spot. Two guys racing to get to follow next might wind up taking turns there.
“Listen: one band, one sound,” Douglas said. “We’re here for one another, to make one another better. We’re going to be a fist, together, always protected.”