Titans' preseason will include some level of tackling at some point

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – No preseason games. No workouts against other teams.

From now until the Titans start off Sept. 14 in Denver, presuming all goes well for the NFL and opening weekend is played, there is so much football to prepared for but so little real football to be played.


Coaches fear live, to-the-ground contact when they are working with just their team. Getting a healthy team to the first game is the No. 1 mission, and if sloppy play is a result of that when things get started, so be it.

For younger players who Mike Vrabel and his staff must evaluate in an irregular preseason, there may simply be no way to avoid live periods of practice or some scrimmage situations.

“We may have to have some scrimmages where some of these younger players are in a live situation as it relates to tackling,” he said. “It’s so critical on special teams. Now, I'm not ready to tell you that we're going to go live on special teams, but you know we're going to have to put guys in competitive situations to be able to evaluate them.

“And we've done that in the past when we had that game or scrimmages. We split the team up before. We've had players draft teams and we've gone out and operated in the stadium. We’ll have to have some of those days.”

The Titans will be allowed to have two stadium events, though plans for them have not been discussed and local restrictions may mean they are not worth holding because no significant number of fans may be allowed to gather, even masked and distanced.

The special teams action Vrabel was discussion will have its limits. He’s never going to set things up to where a returner can take a big hit. But the people blocking for him and the ones trying to get to him may have to fully engage in some practice setting to be ready to do it against the Broncos.

“This is critical that we don't go out there and our first live kickoff return is September 14 and somebody gets hurt because that's the last thing that you want to do is say, ‘Well, I just wasn't ready for that guy in the speed to come down there, as he was covering kickoff,’ because we all know that's what's going to happen …on Monday night that they're going to be flying down there,” Vrabel said.

apple icon 114x114 precomposedAnd while offensive players may need to be tackled before the season starts, not everything around them will need to be fully executed.

“We're never going to ask our offensive lineman to cut our defensive lineman in practice, which sometimes during the game, their block and their assignment would tell them that they would have to.

"But, do I think the Darrynton Evans needs to get tackled? Yeah, probably, at some point in time through training camp Darrynton needs to get tackled, because on September 14, he's going to try to get hit and tackled really hard. As hard and as legally as the Broncos and the rest of the teams that we play do.

“So now, that's something that I have to consider and look at. But we're not going to cut players to the ground during training camp.”

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