The first day I saw: Mike Vrabel hot, Darrynton Evans impression, deep-ball success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Vrabel blew his stack at least a few times during the first training camp practice the media watched.

He said it was nothing.

“Who seemed unhappy?” he asked. “No, that's football practice. There's some good, there's some bad and we got to eliminate the stuff that gets you beat – interceptions or balls on the ground, quarterback-center exchange.”

(One outsider’s recommendation: Don’t ask out of a play if you’re a young unknown.)


(Photo: George Walker/Tennessean via pool.)

It was your basic early practice with some very pretty moments – Kalif Raymond winning deep up the right side after winning quickly against Johnathan Joseph -- and some that rated as less so – Malcolm Butler cursed himself repeatedly after reading Ryan Tannehill’s first throw of one-on-ones, slipping inside A.J. Brown’s crossing route and then dropping an interception. (See photo.)

“We left a lot of plays on the field, a lot of interceptions and things like that, and that's what I did,” Butler said. “We made that a big issue that we want to make those. That wasn't a great example today. It wasn’t a great start, but it was the first day. I just got to make the play.”

Some thoughts on what I saw:

Normalcy: Outside of masked coaches, distances support staff and adjusted media boundaries, things were very normal and that’s just what Vrabel hoped for and expected. Early on we saw two quarterbacks with padded arms swiping at the one dropping back and throwing and backs running with stretchy cords attempting to hold them back.

DEvansDarrynton Evans: The running back drills didn’t extend very far but the thing that stood out about Darryton Evans, as I expected, was a smooth initial move. Running at a coach holding a gray garbage can representing an offensive lineman, backs are asked to react to a late lean of the can, moving the opposite direction. It’s not an occasion for a sharp cut and his seemed smooth and effortless.

Later in team periods, he did not take his carries as far as coaches usually like. When a running play is technically, clearly finished even with no tackle, backs usually go on a long run as if it’s not over, to form a habit. I wonder if that will quickly be adjusted?

The rookie QB: Cole McDonald said after the Titans spent a seventh-round pick on him that he was already working on revising his throwing motion. It looked tighter and more compact for sure, though many of his passes had a slight wobble. He was up and down in the teamwork he had. I saw one throw that landed short to the right in between several defenders near no offensive player. But on the next play, throwing slightly deeper to the opposite side, he threw for Kristian Wilkerson right as, or even before, he made his break to the sideline.

Undrafted receivers: Of the undrafted rookie receivers, Wilkerson stood out the most. He was opportunistic and looks bigger than his listed 6-foot-1, 201-pounds. I noticed Mason Kinsey just once, on a short one-on-one catch against a corner I believe was Kristian Fulton.

Rashard Davis: The Titans have spoken a great deal about receiver Rashard Davis, who was lauded as the offense’s top offensive performer of the offseason. It’s translated into opportunity as the receiver was on the field frequently high in the rotation.

One-on-one deep balls: The Titans offense had a solid success rate. Granted, it’s a period built for offensive success. I mentioned Raymond above. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine caught one over Chris Milton and was tackled to the dismay of coaches. Adam Humphries grabbed on beyond Kareem Orr who did poorly to adjust. A.J. Brown couldn't defeat solid Adoree' Jackson coverage and Davis couldn’t reach his chance vs. Kareem Orr for misses on shot plays in the period.

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