Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Well, it’s now July, and that means training camp is edging closer.
We’re now less than three weeks away.
Another mailbag is here. Let’s go…
** William Harris from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania**
Question: I have been a Titans fan since Eddie George and Steve McNair. Rip. I hear all the talk most of it being Titan haters but one thing that sticks out to me is the question around Marcus Mariota. Is he our long term franchise qb or do you think he has not lived up to his hype? I personally like him but his performance has been mediocre. Do you think with the new coaching staff around him this year will be his breakout year???
Jim: Hey William. Thanks for the question. Marcus maybe didn’t take off like some thought he would last year, but I think he’s been better than mediocre through three seasons. He’s thrown 58 TDs vs. 34 INTs, and he’s dealt with a lot of changes around him, at head coach and offensive coordinator. I do think the changes this offseason should benefit him in the long run. And I still believe he’s a long-time, franchise QB.
Robbert van Giffen from Boise, Idaho
Question: Hey Jim, I was wondering how our O-line has been adjusting to the new zone blocking scheme, in particular our guards. I had heard the Quinton Spain had run zone schemes in college but that some people have suggested that he doesn’t fit into a zone scheme very well. I really like the guy so was wondering how he’s adjusting. Thanks
Jim: Hey Robbert. The o-line is adjusting, but I have to admit there have been a lot of moving parts during the offseason with Jack Conklin out and Taylor Lewan missing time during June. It’s forced other guys to move around to different positions. Spain has had a solid offseason, but he’s going to have to hold some other guys off. Kevin Pamphile, formerly with the Buccaneers, has really impressed me. He can play guard, but if Conklin is not ready he could be needed at tackle. Some questions also surround Lewan, of course. Cody Wichman has come on at guard at well, so keep an eye on him in the competition. I do think the new system is a good fit for Josh Kline.
Kevin Berkner from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Question: Jim you do an excellent job. I love the new podcast with Amie and Mike. You guys rock. Thank You. You guys do an awesome job being informed and keeping the fans informed as much you can. Thank you for answering questions from the fans. My question is: Are there any players maybe UDFA … that it might just be too hard of a cut to let get away? What couple of players or a specific player do you think the front office is gonna have a hard time deciding to cut to get to the Final 53?
Jim: Appreciate it Kevin. Amie and Mike deserve credit for the podcast. They got it up and running, and I’m lucky they’ve asked me to hop on from time to time. As for the UDFAs, some contenders are out there. At receiver, I think there’s a chance one could make it. Keep an eye on Jordan Veasy in training camp. He’s been impressive so far. Devin Ross and Deontay Burnett are two more WRs who’ve flashed. Running back Akrum Wadley and outside linebacker Sharif Finch have a chance to stick, too, but they’ll need to impress when the pads come on.
Alex McCormack from Madison, Alabama
Question: Why don’t the Titans sign Dez Bryant and Jeremy Maclin? And they should bring back Eric Decker. They need to trade away Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor for draft picks. If the Titans sign Dez Bryant then that should be an offense that other teams won’t want to mess with.
Jim: Alex, this deserves a ‘C’mon man!’
Susan Swafford from Tennessee
Question: Jim. I have followed the Titans since arriving in Nashville. I watch every single game and look forward to the next season when every season ends. When I lived in Nashville I would go to the open practice a lot. Since I moved from there the Titans had one practice at a high school 8 miles away from me called Coahulla Creek High School. Since then I’ve not seen them travel again for practice. Does the Titans still travel during practice or scrimmages? Where can we find the open practice schedule and when will it be released? Thanks
Jim: Hi Susan. The Titans had a “Friday Night Lights” at Centennial High in Franklin last year in training camp, and the team plans to do the same again this year. It will be on Friday, August 3, at a high school to be named later. The exact location, and all the training camp dates, should be announced in the near future. First practice is set for July 26.
Daniel Maddux from South Pittsburgh, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. What’s the record at the end of the season?
Jim: _Hey Daniel. I don’t do win-loss predictions here. Games in the NFL are oftentimes decided by just a handful of plays, and you have to be able to win close games. You also have to stay healthy. Sure, the Titans are capable of topping last year’s win total, and making a deeper run in the playoffs. The goal, of course, is the Super Bowl. But if the team can’t win close games, and if key players get injured, it’s going to tough. Some big changes have taken place this offseason, and players and coaches will have to adjust quickly. The expectations are high, but the team is going to have to get it done on the field. _
Lee Hillis from Smyrna, Tennessee.
Question: How many wins do you think we’ll have based on the schedule and talent we have? Because I’m thinking 12-4.
Jim: See above.
Kyle Onaka from Kealakekua, Hawaii
Question: My 85 year old mother and my late father had always wanted to see an NFL game but living here in Hawaii has it’s logistical issues. They both followed all of the Tennessee Titans games since the draft of Marcus Mariota. Our now 15 year old son (who is slightly autistic) was at their home watching every time the Titans played. This year we have been able to book a trip and purchase tickets to a Titans home game in December. Is it possible for our son to purchase a personally autographed authentic Tennessee Titans football helmet when we get there? He has asked for one ever since Marcus started playing in Tennessee. Thank you.
Jim: _Hey Kyle. Glad to hear you’re making the trip. Hope you have a great time! They currently only have a few autographed white helmets available for sale at the stadium store. You might want to check back with me closer to time for the new signed blue helmets, and availability.
Ryan Kennedy from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, Why is there a common sentiment that rookies have such a larger learning curve than veterans as far as learning the playbook and knowing where to be? If the coordinators are all new and the plays are all new to both veterans and rookies, why would it in theory take the rookies quite a bit longer to adjust?
Jim: _Hey Ryan. Fair question. The reality is there’s a steeper learning curve in the NFL, and a lot of adjustments from college. While veterans have to deal with changes, like rookies, when new coaches come in, they at least have a better feel for the terminology in an NFL playbook. Plus, they’re used to the speed of the game, the environment, a 20-game NFL schedule (counting preseason), etc. Some guys adapt and learn quicker than others, of course, whether they’re rookies or veterans. _
Sanders Smith from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. How are you? My question is, There is still some good quality free agents available like N.Bowman, C.Barwin, and E.Reid in which I think would valuable depth pieces to help our defense….Do you think J-Rob will possibly add more depth with any quality backups…One more what are the chances of us trading for T-Suggs as it was once mentioned?
Jim: _Hey Sanders. Well, I can assure you the GM knows what’s out there, and he has daily discussions with Vrabel about the state of the roster, and each position. At some point, I’m sure he’ll make some roster adjustments based on how things are going in training camp, leading up to the regular season. Some could be based on injuries. But I get the sense he likes what he has on defense, after making some key additions at linebacker and in the secondary. There’s depth. And I wouldn’t bet on the team trading for Suggs. _
Carolyn Beshkar from Virginia Beach, Virginia
Question: My teenage grandson is a die-hard Titan fan so for our grandmother-grandson vacation this year I want to bring him to training camp so he can get autographs. Is seating available for me? And water and snacks at training site? Not a sports type I don’t know what to expect. I want to know if I need to bring my walker to sit on?
Jim: _Hi Carolyn. We look forward to having you. Sounds like a great tradition! Yes, seating will be available, along with water. You can bring your own empty water bottle and get free water from a filtered cold water station. You can bring your walker, and if you need handicap access by chance there’s seating as well. But stands surround the practice fields, and some of them will be covered. _
Donald Del Carmen from Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim. Can you please tell us the summer training camp dates and times so we can possibly get autographs from the players? We’ve been waiting patiently for this information so we can bring our kids. Thank you.
Jim: Hey Daniel. The practice schedule should be announced within a week, but not the autograph schedule. Last year, if you remember, an autograph schedule wasn’t announced in advance. But the number of players made available after each practice was expanded to at least 15-20 a day, including several prominent players. I’m expecting the same setup. Stay tuned.