“Get better” was the message emphasized by defensive line coach Terrell Williams before practice. That message has carried from the D line to the rest of the team in a contagious manner as the Titans again showed improvement at Minicamp Day 1.
Marcus Mariota looked sharp all day, and his accuracy seemed to step up a notch once the offense entered the red zone. He threw two touchdowns, almost making it a third as Tajae Sharpe climbed the ladder to make a great catch, but couldn’t get his second foot in bounds. Throughout the day, it took great play from the defensive backs to knock down a pass, because Mariota wasn’t missing many throws.
While Mariota was hitting the bullseye this afternoon, Blaine Gabbert sailed a few balls high. By the later periods of practice though, he seemed to have turned things around and was delivering passes right on target.
Corey Davis, who missed the last OTA, was limited in practice today. He participated lightly in some of the individual drills, but headed back inside before the team drills started up.
Devin Ross made up for an early drop on the very next play by making a great catch in the back of the endzone. Darius Jennings had another solid day, making a number of catches up the middle. Tajae Sharpe put on display his ability to run extremely crisp routes which is slowly starting to rub off on the multitude of rookies around him. One of those rookies who received a lot of reps was Jordan Veasy out of California who after practice said he goes into every rep thinking he has to “earn it.”
A name that we’re seeing more and more, Akrum Wadley, had one of the plays of the day. On what looked to be a broken play, with pressure getting to the quarterback immediately, Wadley was able to take a quick dump off pass, turn up field, and he was 40 yards downfield before anyone knew what happened. Though the pads may be off right now, I don’t think anyone was catching him, whether they were tackling, playing flag, or whatever. He dusted the defense on that play.
Despite the absence of left tackle Taylor Lewan, the offensive line still managed to hold a clean pocket for Mariota and company. Free agent pickup Kevin Pamphile was able to step up for the unit and have productive snaps.
Kevin Dodd returned to the field and today worked with the Defensive Line extensively. Being only one day on minicamp in, it is hard to tell whether or not he has fallen behind as a result of missing OTA’s. The only glaring mistake was an offsides call during team period. Other than that, Dodd kept pace with the rest of the squad.
Because of Mariota’s sharp passing today, the DB’s had to show ball skills and make athletic plays in order to bat down passes. LeShaun Sims illustrated this perfectly with a diving rejection along the sideline. Adoree Jackson also looked impressive and at times when he would have to cover the much larger Delanie Walker, it became a must-see matchup.
During the special teams portion, rookie Austin Barnard was kicking field goals for the Titans. He nailed each one he took, with a long of 41 on the day.
Taylor Lewan was not in attendance today. Currently, he and the Titans are trying to sort out his contract situation. In a statement released today, GM Jon Robinson said, “He is currently under contract, and we are working to keep Taylor as part of this organization for a long time.” Lewan joins a group of other big-name players not at their first team mini camp, including Khalil Mack of the Raiders, David Johnson of the Cardinals, Julio Jones of the Falcons, Aaron Donald of the Rams, and Earl Thomas of the Seahawks.