NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Despite the negative start to training camp learning the news of Taylor Lewan’s four-game suspension, the attitude at practice on day one of training camp was upbeat.
At this point, the reality of life without Lewan for Cleveland, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Atlanta to start the 2019 campaign has sunk in and the Titans look to move on.
Losing a left tackle directly impacts the quarterback, but Marcus Mariota’s focus is inward.
“I just have to continue just to be myself. I can’t worry about what’s going on up front, I’ve got to continue to keep my eyes down the field,” said Mariota.
For him, it’s about trusting the guys in front of him and that trust extends beyond Lewan.
“I trust every single one of those guys in the building. There’s a reason why they’re here,” he said.
When camp opened up Friday, the first-team offensive line from left to right was Dennis Kelly, Rodger Saffold, Ben Jones, Kevin Pamphile and Jack Conklin.
As expected, Kelly will step in to Lewan’s role during the suspension.
“Dennis is a guy that’s been here for a few years. He’s done it. There are situations where he’s had to come in to games and step up for us. We have full confidence in him and I think we’ll be OK,” said Mariota.
Kelly agrees his experience filling in for Jack Conklin on occasion last season will help him do it again for Lewan.
“I mean it definitely helps with confidence knowing that I’ve done it before. But at the same time, it’s a new year,” said Kelly. “I’m another year older, things have changed so I still got to approach it. “
In the other tackle position, Jack Conklin is making his return back from a knee injury toward the end of last season, and said he was still feeling the effects of his ACL injury in 2017.
On Friday, he said he feels confident in his knee and stronger than he was before his ACL injury. He also feels confident in his position group.
“We have a chance to be a very good offensive line,” said Conklin.”We know we got a lot of time here to get gelling with each other, to get some confidence. We got a good group, everybody gets along well, and it’s just going to be a fun year.”