There was plenty of optimism in the city of Nashville, as their Tennessee Titans prepared for this year’s training camp. And so far, it has lived up to the hype.
Today we’ll discuss five things the first week of practice taught us.
The Mariota Machine is real:
The Titans reside in SEC country, and while fans knew of Marcus Mariota because of his success at Oregon, few closely followed his collegiate career. As a result, few could have predicted just how big of a story his rookie season would be, and how much media attention it would garner.
All of the major sports media outlets want a piece of Mariota, and has visited Tennessee’s training camp already. The Titans went from NFL afterthought, to one of the league’s most intriguing teams…overnight. Mariota’s preseason debut against the Falcons will be televised live on the NFL Network Friday night. His home opener against the Rams will be nationally televised on Fox the following week. Welcome to prime time, Tennessee. Compliments of Mr. Mariota.
Taylor Lewan is a man of his words:
On the eve of training camp, left tackle Taylor Lewan called his unit soft. He then challenged them to be a tougher, more physical group this season. After a week of practice, Lewan is proving that it was not all talk. He has been a force so far in camp, drawing praise from defensive tackle Jurrell Casey…one of the best players on the team. If the rest of the offensive line can follow Lewan’s lead, then the Titans could be well on their way in achieving the run / pass balance they covet this season.
Best training camp battle:
One of the position battles that fans were most eager to see was the battle for the second starting receiver position. And so far in camp, the battle has lived up to it’s billing. Veterans Hakeem Nicks, Harry Douglas, and Justin Hunter all had solid starts to camp. Rookie Dorial Green-Beckham is not too far behind. No one has pulled away from the pack, and no one has fallen out of the race. It will be interesting to see if Douglas, who played for the Falcons, will get the honorary start this week in Atlanta.
Worst training camp battle:
If no one pulling away from the pack is an exciting development for the receivers, then it is an equally alarming development for the running backs. Tennessee’s run game was abysmal last season, and hasn’t fared much better so far in camp. Rookie David Cobb missed most of mini-camp, and has struggled in his first week of practice. Cobb’s slow start is amplified by the fact that starter Bishop Sankey (who struggled last season) has done nothing to distance himself from the rookie. Utility back Dexter McCluster‘s role is still cloudy at best. Look for Cobb to see a good amount of carries in the preseason opener, he had his best practice of camp yesterday.
BWW still in the mix:
As training camp loomed, all signs pointed to free agent cornerback Perrish Cox being named the starter over Blidi Wreh-Wilson…who also struggled last season. Cox had an outstanding mini-camp while Wreh-Wilson recovered from injury, but head coach Ken Whisenhunt vowed to give both equal reps with the starting unit when he returned. A week into practice, and coach Whiz has kept his word, BWW is back healthy and is splitting starter reps with Cox. Both are having solid starts to camp, no word yet on who gets the initial start this Friday night.