It was interesting to be back at Tennessee Titans training camp after a week away covering other events. Here are my notes and thoughts from observing the past two days at camp.
The quarterbacks are still far too inconsistent at this point in camp. Jake Locker has his moments where he looks good, and he seems to be getting around well for the most part. Still, he has thrown too many interceptions in camp for my taste, including one yesterday that bounced off Jason McCourty’s helmet and right into Bernard Pollard’s hands. Charlie Whitehurst has thrown some interceptions as well.
This after a day when rookie Zach Mettenberger threw back to back interceptions in team drills on Wednesday. Mettenberger to his credit looked much better in yesterday’s media only practice. He didn’t launch the ball though just settled on short and intermediate passes.
I spent some time the past two days watching how the Titans used Charlie Whitehurst in camp and I was struck by how closely he seemed to run plays that look designed for Jake Locker’s skill set. He has pulled the ball down and ran with it on what looks to be designed plays on several occasions. Smart move by the Titans to get Whitehurst that familiarity in the event Locker gets injured again.
Some people are concerned over the Justin Hunter hype but he really has looked outstanding in camp this year. He is catching virtually everything thrown his way and is making the big plays the Titans expected of him when they moved up in the 2013 NFL Draft to select him with the 34th overall selection. The second year wide receiver is lights year ahead of where he was this time in camp last year.
More on the receivers and this year’s buzz in camp has been Derek Hagan. I got an opportunity to speak with him yesterday after practice. He is a great guy and check back for a feature on him with some audio from our chat. Michael Preston continues to make noise too. The Titans have the best wide receiver group in the team’s history right now and they are fun to watch.
Chase Coffman may be a camp body but the recently signed tight end integrated smoothly into the Titans offense. While he and Jason Schepler may be long shots they made some nice catches the past two days. Also, after a bit of a rough start, Craig Stevens has also made some nice plays and I did not see him drop any balls this week.
It was great to see Andy Levitre back on the field this week. I didn’t notice any lingering issues and Coach Whisenhunt indicated in his post practice press conference Levitre should play Saturday night. Whisenhunt earlier on had indicated the starters might play around 15 snaps Saturday night against the Green Bay Packers but he refused to commit to a set time frame yesterday. I suspect they will watch the product on the field but I doubt the starters will play in the second half.
Speaking of Pollard, he proclaimed the defense the victor in yesterday’s practice and I tend to agree with him. The offense showed moments but overall the defense did appear to win the overall battle in team drills.
Also, I was struck by how much more comfortable Kam Wimbley looked this week back at the outside linebacker position. Wesley Woodyard also looks comfortable already and Zach Brown almost intercepted a pass in practice yesterday.
As alluded to, the secondary is shaping up to be good once again this season. Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson are battling hard for the right cornerback spot and Tommie Campbell is once again showing some flashes. I just wonder if he has done enough to put himself back in that mix. My gut tells me probably not.
The Titans also seem to be interchanging Wreh-Wilson and Sensabaugh at right corner and slot and I wonder if we might see that during the season with the two interchanging based on offensive alignment. It’s something to watch during the pre-season. Finally, keep an eye on Hakeem Smith during the pre-season. He is making a lot of plays in training camp. He could make it hard for the Titans to cut and is sure to end up on the practice squad at the least.
Jurrell Casey is playing both inside and outside and I spent some time watching him yesterday. I didn’t think he looked comfortable at all early on but what a difference a week makes. He was very disruptive this week and seems to be getting back to the beast mode Casey we know. I thought the defensive line looked much better this week. Both Wimbley and Derrick Morgan are playing some defensive end as well.
Brett Kern is in great shape and the punting situation should be no concern. Unfortunately, you cannot say the same of the kickers. Maikon Bonani has quite the leg but his accuracy is still lacking. Travis Koons has the accuracy but not quite the leg. His distance kicking is suspect.
I am not sure the Titans have their kicker for the season on the roster right now. Could they make a call to former Titan Rob Bironas?
Running back Antonio Andrews has looked the part in offensive drills and took a lot of snaps at returner yesterday but seems destined for the practice squad given the numbers. Leon Washington is getting a ton of reps at running back which leads me to believe he remains a favorite to man one of the return spots. While Dexter McCluster is still making plays and looks fantastic Bishop Sankey’s carries appear to have increased since last week. He looks smooth and comfortable running through the tackles.
The Titans start their pre-season Saturday night at LP Field against the Green Bay Packers. The game kicks off at 7:00 pm CST and will be broadcast locally on Channel 2.