The last thing Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt told his players before he broke mini-camp and sent them off for six weeks of vacation was “stay out of trouble and stay in shape”! He also said that the younger and more improved team looked better, but we would have to wait until they put on the pads for training camp to tell if this is indeed a better football team.
The three-day mini camp which ended on Thursday marks the end of the official team activity until the team reports for training camp next month and start getting ready for the Atlanta Falcons on August 14th.
"“We’ve got a lot of young guys, which is sometimes a little bit worrisome just because they don’t know what they don’t know and going through the process of learning that sometimes there’s some bumps. But we have got some talented guys from where we started before free agency to where we are now we’ve improved this team. Now we’ve got to show that on the field.”"
He also said he hoped they had all the information they needed as they scattered because he was going to be hard to find. Everyone is taking a break to re-charge the batteries before the grueling 2015 regular season activities start on July 30th.
Veteran and arguably the best player on the team from the 2-14 disaster last year, Delanie Walker cautioned his young teammates that even though they were excited about getting away for their vacations, they needed to stay focused for one more day and take full advantage of this session.
Walker also indicated the team was in much better shape than they were a year ago. The ten-year veteran also said:
"“The makeup has changed, and I think guys realize that the ownership and the coaches are not playing anymore at this time,” Walker said. “They’re going to play the best players and the player that gives his all.”"
The player taking the most homework as he goes away for some rest is rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.
"All eyes are on Mariota, though, with the Titans promoting season-ticket sales with the phrase “WITNESS THE BEGINNING.” Whisenhunt said Mariota is probably further along now than expected."
The number two pick in the 2015 draft indicated it had been a busy 6-7 months since he had wrapped up his college career and although he was looking forward to the time off, he would need to balance his off-time between resting and studying.
"“Getting my head in the playbook, going over film over the past month or so of what we’ve been able to do and just kind of relaxing,” Mariota said Wednesday.“It’s been a long six, seven months for me since I ended my college season and even leading up to that. So just relaxing and getting ready for training camp.”"
Coach Whisenhunt is expecting Mariota to start the season opener against Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccanners on September 13th, and is confident that the youngster is well-grounded with work and family, and will be ready when camp opens.
"“He’s driven to be good from what I’ve seen,” Whisenhunt said. “He works really hard at the game whether it’s technique things, whether it’s studying. A lot of times with guys at that position that are really good I don’t care what you say to them, they’re always going to work on it, and that’s what you see in Marcus.”"
Mariota and third-round draft pick, Jeremiah Poutasi are the only two players still not signed to a contract. The Titans will have to get them signed before training camp starts on July 30th.
The hopes of a team and fan base in Music City seem to be riding on the shoulders of the rookie from Hawaii and as a fan myself, can hardly wait to see what the 2015 season will bring. Delanie Walker said on Thursday that this should be a .500 team.
I think that is a little optimistic, but who knows? I’ve seen teams change overnight and catch magic in a bottle.
I was living in the Bay Area in 1981 when the San Francisco 49er were struggling to find an identity under new head coach Bill Walsh and ended the season with a Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI.
Who knows? Maybe it’s the year for the Titans in 2015 and Super Bowl L.