Takeaways from Titans-Bucs practice: CBs, Treylon Burks and Malik Willis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – My biggest takeaways from the first of two Titans’ practices against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The defense: I watched the Titans corners go against the Bucs’ receivers in one-on-ones for 23 plays, even as Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage were not on the field for the visitors.

Treylon Burks

© George Walker IV / Tennessean.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The way I saw it, the Titans “won,” 10 of those snaps. That’s a high rate in such a setting where quarterbacks are throwing with no pressure and defensive backs are playing straight up with no help.

Mike Vrabel said he saw things the Titans need to work on but called it encouraging.

Kristian Fulton had a very nice breakup of a ball for Jerreth Sterns and was super sticky with Julio Jones up the left side when Jones slipped, recovered but then didn’t make a play on a ball that seemed like one he could have given a try for.

Caleb Farley, in the meantime, struggles in the same period against two smaller receivers. First Scotty Miller broke short and Farley flew by. The picture below shows you the separation while the ball was almost about to arrive. Later Farley lost to the super small Jaelon Darden (5-foot-8, 174 pounds).

Caleb Farley

“On first glance, I didn’t think it probably his best day he had a good day yesterday,” Vrabel said. “I’m going to go watch the tape, but I just didn’t see what I saw from yesterday. I saw some things that we need to continue to work on.”

A large share of the practice featured 2:00 drill work where only one offense and defense was on one field. In that work the Titans' defense did quite well, moving the line of scrimmage with relative consistency and keeping Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask from making big plays.

That, of course, is exactly what this defense should be doing against those quarterbacks. Tom Brady is elsewhere.

Kevin Byard called some of it dominant.

We set the tempo, we set the tone today," he said. 

Teair Tart and particularly Jeffery Simmons tossed some people around and made running the ball hard on the Bucs.

"As far as I know we had a pretty good day," Simmons said of the defense. "We’re going to go and watch film. If we have a couple of plays where we didn’t do good we’re going to take the coaching and come back tomorrow with a better day.”

Treylon Burks: The first-round pick made two significant plays. 

The first was a beautiful dive pictured above in one-on-ones. 

Later in team, he was a highlighted guy along with Racey McMath as they caught the two notable deep balls of the day, both from Ryan Tannehill.

Burks ran out that catch and returned to the rest of the offense. Media member Braden Gall said he saw a left leg shake after the play. It wasn't long later that he left the practice and the field with a trainer.

Perhaps it's minor and Burks will be back in action tomorrow.

But given the training camp history of recent high picks and the recent history of top receivers, there is cause to fear that after a very complete workload Burks could be headed for a program to deal with an injury.

Missed time for him would be a terrible development, and the Titans' receiver depth really breaks off at a clear spot. They have Robert Woods and Burks, with Kyle Philips emerging as a good-looking slot option and Nick Westbrook-Ij=khine cast as a nice fourth who can relieve and have a role with Racey McMath as a deep threat. 

After that, there is trouble, starting with the pedestrian second-year Dez Fitzpatrick, who's been inconsistent at best.

Offensive line: The group was generally good, but not as good as the defensive front. It punched holes for a couple of good runs -- none by Derrick Henry who took off his uniform after the running backs worked their period. So he didn't do anything involving the guests.

Dillon Radunz had a few shaky snaps at right tackle but did OK. One of the bad ones saw him pushed back into Ryan Tannehill and they both finished on the ground. Nate Davis disappeared after being part of some early work in a team period, and with Jamaro Jones out with an injury, Jordan Roos worked at right guard.

Malik Willis: He was pulled from his first preseason action in the middle of a series because he wouldn't throw the ball, and he's not been better since then.

At one point he had Chig Okonkwo sitting in the flat open for him as a checkdown and pulled it down and ran for a small gain up the middle instead.

At least against the Bucs, there was a reasonable rationale for it, but if he's unwilling Saturday night in the game it's going to qualify as an issue, early as it is for him.

Notes: Kyle Philips had one catch against Lavonte David. No matter how good the linebacker is, I think the Titans will take that matchup for the rookie every time. ...Tannehill was working on his cadence and was not happy it lead to two false starts. ...He threw a bad pick to linebacker Devin White on a ball intended for Philips, the sort he threw last year to an underneath backer who felt unseen. ...Austin Hooper was heavily featured.

You are not authorised to post comments.

Comments powered by CComment