For the first time since 2019 St. Thomas Sports Park is open for the Titans and organized team activities.
The Titans held voluntary practices Monday and Tuesday and will practice again Thursday. The last two years saw OTA’s completely scrubbed by the league because of Covid-19 and safety concerns.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel relishes every second of it, “Anything we can get on to the practice field and coach players is critical.”
All of the Titans draft picks were in attendance and so, were all of their new additions including wide receiver Robert Woods and tight end Austin Hooper.
More than a few notable veterans were not in attendance. Key leaders on the team like Kevin Byard, Derrick Henry, Jeffery Simmons and Harold Landry have all chosen to stay away so far.
Vrabel and the coaches are not allowed to comment the absence of players during these “voluntary” workouts, but it is clear the coach sees value in them, “We went through this conversation with the rookies and I think it’s the same thing with the veterans. When you’re working or conditioning in the first couple of phases with three or four other guys you tend to go a little harder.”
Veteran offensive tackle Taylor Lewan did practice the first two days of OTA’s, “First couple of weeks I wasn’t here, I was doing my own training program. When the rookies came in I wanted to be here, help out with them, getting those drills in. Not being able to run at all last year, I didn’t run until the middle of June early July last year. That was the first time I started running. So to be able to get out here and do this is fun for me right now.”
Lewan was coming off of a torn ACL and surgery last season and struggled to start the season giving up 4 sacks to the Cardinals Chandler Jones in the opener. He said coming back last year was miserable, but used much more colorful language to describe it. “We’re not just getting out here to take up time.” Lewan added.
Linebacker David Long Jr. is stepping into a larger leadership role in his fourth season with the team. With Rashaan Evans gone to Atlanta and Jayon Brown to the Raiders he has clearly pushed through to the starting lineup but is not taking anything for granted, “It’s always going to be a competition as long as you’re in the league. So that’s why you have to come out here every day to get better, keep your body right, and still be a good teammate.”
Lewan says every year is a new year and what the Titans did last year does not matter, everyone starts over. They key is for most the Titans starting over is back to starting in May instead of at Training Camp.