NFL royalty hits St. Thomas Sports Park starting Wednesday when the New England Patriots join the Tennessee Titans for a pair of joint practices before their preseason game Saturday night.
Mike Vrabel says this is not a measuring stick for his team, but wide receiver Adam Humphries says there is no escaping who the Patriots are and what they represent, “Yeah, I mean world champs, a lot to learn from them coming in to town. Obviously it’s going to be great working against new schemes, different players. It’s going to be extremely beneficial to us.”
It is the competition against new bodies and schemes that both teams stand to benefit from. After over two weeks of practice the Titans defense knows the offense inside out, it will get harder Wednesday.
Defensive lineman DaQuan Jones says it is an opportunity for big improvement, “Both practices are going to be like a game,you have to go out there and compete, really communicate and work on your stuff. I think it’s going to be a great learning curve for us.”
“Well, we’re not going to game plan for them,” said head coach Mike Vrabel, “but we’re going to be able to see different looks and how we adjust to those different coverages. Our guys have been building profiles on the guy that they’ve been going against all of camp, whether that’s a pass rusher, that’s an offensive lineman, a DB versus a receiver. So, we’ll have to do that very quickly when the Patriots come in and their personnel.”
The Patriots personnel starts with quarterback Tom Brady, 42-years old and arguably the best ever with six Super Bowl rings.
Vrabel was a teammate, now he is the coach on the other sideline, “Yeah. I’ve seen Tom (Brady) kind of grow up and he’s still a great friend. I’ll enjoy being on the same practice field with him – all be it, not as a player. To be able to watch him operate and then hopefully learn some stuff.”
Brady will be a great test for a Titans secondary that has completely smothered the Titans offense in camp.
Cornerback Logan Ryan played his first four seasons and practiced against Brady every day. He helped lead the TItans to a 34-10 win over the Pats last season in Nashville and says there is nothing personnel about this week, “No, it’s not a special meaning. It’s a lot of familiar faces, a lot of competitive juices, they’re a competitive organization. They were world champions last year so just good to against that and see where you stack up and bring your “A” game and see how they stack up against that as well.”
Vrabel may not call it a measuring stick but his players sound anxious to see how they measure up.