Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Training camp is still over a month away for the Titans.
With the team’s offseason – nine OTAs and a minicamp — fresh on my mind, I’m rolling out the five things that stood out from the Titans during OTAs and minicamp at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Defense ahead of offense
This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The defense has an advantage over the offense in the offseason, and this year the changes were more drastic from a scheme standpoint on offense. So it’s going to take some extra time. The defense has looked solid, from the deep and talented secondary to a pass rush with some nice options. When the offense is at full strength and clicking, there will be some competitive practices.
Fired up staff
Titans coach Mike Vrabel gets after it, and so does his staff. Vrabel is a no-nonsense, hands-on coach who calls it like he sees it. He makes corrections without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings, even if it’s in the middle of the practice field for everyone to see. He has some fiery position coaches, too, most notably secondary coach Kerry Coombs. Vrabel is different than any Titans head coach I’ve ever covered, and I date back to Jeff Fisher.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota is still getting used to the changes around him, from the new scheme to the new coaching staff to new players. Minus the bulky knee brace he’d worn previously, however, he’s sure looked fast on the occasions when he’s taken off. Mariota also made progress while working to clean up some technique issues. It should pay off when training camp rolls around.
I’ve seen the likes of Biren Ealy, Eddie Berlin and Tyrone Calico light it up in offseasons past, only to make limited contributions in the offense when the season rolled around. Some of the receivers I’m about to mention might not even make the team, but they’re going to be worth watching in camp. Undrafted rookie Jordan Veasy is big, and he’s a savvy route runner. Devin Ross is small, but quick, and he catches the ball well. Deontay Burnett was productive in college at USC, and he’s flashed. I like to watch the underdogs in practices, and these guys got my attention.
I mentioned the defense right out of the gate. Well, we’re talking linebackers now. The Titans are better here compared to last year. Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan and Wesley Woodyard are proven commodities. The addition of veteran ILB Will Compton has proven to be a nice addition, but some others have also stood out. Second-year backer Jayon Brown made plays all offseason. And newcomers Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans have impressed early in their respective careers as well. Aaron Wallace is back on the scene, and is going to make noise. This is a talented position group, no doubt.