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- Training Camp Week 1: Breaking Down the Tennessee Titans
- In His Own Words: Titans Linebackers Coach Lou Spanos
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Titans All Access Videos
It's no surprise the NFL is about parity. Every season is a new one and every start of training camp brings new hope. For the Tennessee Titans, there's not just new hope, there's a whole new way of doing things.
That much has been evident this first week of training camp and it starts with the top. For starters, new head coach Ken Whisenhunt has this team focused on football. Talking to people at camp, coach has separated all the distractions that go along with being an NFL player from the field. He wants these guys focused on the game. A trip to watch practice proves as much. There's no music playing during warm-ups and even stretching is being critiqued by this coaching staff.
ALSO WATCH: Coach Ken Whisenhunt RAW interview
During Friday's stretching session, coaches were quick to jump on guys not lifting their legs high enough, not fully extending and not getting right into the next position. It's that kind of attention to detail that makes a difference. There's accountability here and nobody is above the law.
Another noticeable aspect of practice has been coach Whisenhunts demeanor. While we don't know what goes on behind closed doors, it's evident he is all about business. You'll see him chatting and joking with the players, but those moments are few and far between. He's watching, he's analyzing and he's explaining what should be happening during the play. Whisenhunt has worked with Joe Gibbs and Bill Cowher among others. He knows what goes in to building a championship team and the tone he's set so far only supports the Titans' reasons for signing him.
Aside from the change from the top, here are some observations from Friday's practice:
* Jake Locker gets better with time. Locker has admitted he's learned how to reign-in his competitive nature and keep cool. We saw that on display Friday. After starting his first series of 11-on-11 drills with an incomplete pass, what would have amounted to a sack and a check-down, Locker came back with force. His next two drives were nearly flawless and he was putting the ball in spots where only the receiver could secure the ball. As for the pecking order, Charlie Whitehurst has shown why he was brought in to back up Locker. He has the calmness about him which only comes with maturity in the league. First and foremost, his ability to anticipate has been evident. he doesn't hold on to the ball too long and puts the pigskin where his receivers should be. While that doesn't always result in success, his previous work with Whisenhunt in San Diego is showing through his comfortability in this system.
Rookie Zach Mettenberger might be young, but his potential has been on display all week. The youngster has a cannon for an arm and a few receivers will be icing their hands after every practice. His accuracy has also been impressive. Where he's shown some trepidation is with the ACL/MCL injury. He seems to still be favoring the knee, which is expected given this is his first week of really testing it out. While he might have a cannon, like most rookies, he will learn when to put that arm on display and when to rein it in. A few passes were too strong in short yardage situations. Overall, he is showing great value given his sixth-round draft status. Those who passed on the former Tiger could have missed out on one of the better deals of the draft.
Lastly, second-year man Tyler Wilson could be the odd man out. He tossed an interception early during 11-on-11 drills. He's been looking a bit too conservative early in camp, which might be keeping his skills from shining through.
* Justin Hunter is a stud. Yeah, that's not news for anyone in Tennessee. But after a year in the big leagues, Justin Hunter has been putting on a show during camp. His speed, agility, hands and ability to separate is indescribable. He put all four on display during red zone drills with an amazing catch in the right corner of the end zone Friday, leaping up for the ball at it's highest point in what looked nothing less than graceful. He then followed that up with a deep catch along the sidelines, tiptoeing on the line before finishing off what was a 40 yard gain. We saw the flashes last season, but it's consistent this year and he seems to be on-track to dominate the opposition.
*Kendall Wright was..Kendall Wright. He's Mr. Consistent with precision route-running and a knack for securing everything thrown his way. His blend of speed and agility will again poise him for another 90-plus receptions season and he will likely be Jake Locker's go-to guy. Lastly, Delanie Walker shows no signs of slowing down after his career best 60 reception, 571 yard and six touchdown season. The Titans lined Walker up at various spots on the field and will look to take advantages of mis-matches. Expect Hunter and Walker to be options one and two in the red zone this season.
* Don't Knight Bishop yet. Bishop Sankey is as good as advertised, but let's temper expectations on the kid. There are already rumblings of Sankey being named Rookie of the Year after just one week! Yes, presuming he wins the starting job, he will see a bulk of the carries. Yes, he has proven at Washington he can carry a heavy load. Yes, he is good running the ball and catching out of the backfield. It's no secret Whisenhunt will run the ball often. But Shonn Greene looks to have returned to form and while Leon Washington is lower on the depth chart, he has looked as explosive and quick as ever. Sankey is a rookie, and like all rookies, he's going to need to adjust to the speed of NFL defenders.
Just because a guy is looking at a heavy workload doesn't mean he will be successful. Don't get me wrong, Sankey is very good, but there's a heavy load of expectation being heaved on him too early. He has the tool-set to get the Rookie of the Year honor, but let's wait a few games before giving him the trophy after just one week. Sankey's success is tied to an offensive line which has seen a few changes and growing pains can be expected. Sankey is part of a unit which needs to succeed together. Let's let him grow at his own pace.
* Taylor Lewan is a wall. Lewan saw time at both tackle and guard during practice and no matter where the 6-7 rookie lined up, he was a noticeable threat. Lewan is deceptively agile for a 309 pound lineman and has showed great control of that frame this first week. While many critics faulted the Titans for drafting him with their first pick over a flashier player, this is a guy who could spend over a decade dominating the position. Like Sankey, Lewan is a rookie and will see his share of mistakes, but thus far, he's shown he is every bit worth that first-round pick.
--Follow Adrian on Twitter @FFFDaily.
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|08/09||Titans||Green Bay Packers||LP Field-7pm (Preseason)||W: 20-16|
|08/15||Saints||Titans||Mercedes-Benz Superdome- 70m (Preseason)||L: 31-24|
|08/23||Falcons||Titans||Georgia Dome- 6pm (Preseason)||W: 24-17|
|08/28||Titans||Vikings||LP Field- 7pm (Preseason)||L: 19-3|
|09/07||K.C. Chiefs||Titans||Arrowhead- 12pm (Regular Season Starts)||W: 26-10|
|09/14||Titans||Dallas Cowboys||LP Field- 12pm (Home Opener on FOX 17)||Loss: 26-10|
|09/21||Cincinnati Bengals||Titans||Paul Brown Stadium- 12pm||Loss: 33-7|
|09/28||Indianapolis Colts||Titans||Lucas Oil Stadium- 12pm||Loss: 41-17|
|10/05||Titans||Cleveland Browns||LP Field- 12pm||Loss: 29-28|
|10/12||Titans||Jacksonville Jaguars||LP Field- 12pm||Win: 16-14|
|10/19||Washington Redskins||Titans||FedEx Field- 12pm||TBD|
|10/26||Titans||Houston Texans||LP Field- 12pm||TBD|
|11/09||Baltimore Ravens||Titans||M&T Bank Stadium- 12pm||TBD|
|11/17||Titans||Pittsburgh Steelers||LP- 7:30pm (Monday Night Football)||TBD|
|11/23||Philadelphia Eagles||Titans||Lincoln Financial Field- 12pm||TBD|
|11/30||Houston Texans||Titans||NRG Stadium- 12pm||TBD|
|12/07||Titans||N.Y. Giants||LP Field- 12pm (On FOX 17)||TBD|
|12/14||Titans||N.Y. Jets||LP Field- 3:05pm||TBD|
|12/18||Jacksonville Jaguars||Titans||EverBank Field- 7:35pm (Thursday Night Football)||TBD|
|12/28||Titans||Indianapolis Colts||LP Field- 12pm||TBD|
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