NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No more football for the next six weeks. The NFL will go dark for it’s “Summer Break” giving franchises, their coaches and their players a much needed rest before training camp. Football fans, however, are left cold turkey without even the meaningless videos of quarterback throwing drills to help them pass the time.
Fortunately, AtoZ Sports has all the content smack you need to feed your offseason addiction. Let’s get to the five things we know about the 2019 Tennessee Titans offense heading into training camp:
- Marcus Mariota Is STILL An Unimpressive Practice Player
I know, I know, it’s only five or so open practices we’ve seen of Tennessee’s starting quarterback. Practice trends soon turn to habit, though, and Mariota’s practices range from average to uninspiring to “truly terrible.”
In #Titans’ first full team period today, Mariota was truly terrible. Missed Davis right, missed Davis left, had a pick dropped, missed Sharpe badly. Other team period was all short stuff/ swing passes to backs. Don’t go nuts. But real throws in most real action were just awful.
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) June 11, 2019
Paul Kuharsky’s observation from Day 1 of Titans mandatory minicamp was appropriately couched with a “don’t go nuts.” I’m still left wondering if I’ll ever see a truly crisp from the quarterback playing on his fifth-year option and seeking an extension to remain in Nashville at the end of the season. Practices (especially offseason ones) are meant for work-shopping stuff. I cannot help but think that, every once in awhile, the franchise quarterback’s efforts should be noticeable…in a good way.
- Derrick Henry Working Screens
We’ll know precious little about the effectiveness of Tennessee’s run game under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith until we see it on the field. What we do know is that, when the media has been allowed out at practice, there has been an emphasis on his use in the screen game.
Henry, also in a contract year, needs to improve his versatility as a back if he is to be a legitimate option for the Titans moving forward. If he can’t be split out wide in offensive formations, a proven way to get him involved in the passing game is the use of screens. Smith and head coach Mike Vrabel understand the value of what Henry can do once he builds momentum. Screens help mitigate the defensive pass rush, give the quarterback an easy access completion and allow Henry a little more space to get moving and make plays.
Running mate Dion Lewis was second on the team behind Corey Davis in both targets (67) and catches (59). Henry does not need to match those numbers but he certainly needs to be looked at and relied upon for more than the 15 catches on 18 targets he had in 2018.
- FluSZN Position Change?
There has been no confirmation that third-string running back David Fluellen is moving to fullback without one on the roster but we’ve seen enough drills in the open portion of practice to indicate that Vrabel & Co. are looking at it.
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) June 11, 2019
“He will do anything that anybody on this team asks him to do, whether it’s to play any position – offensively or defensively,” Vrabel said of Fluellen in sidebar. “He does his best on special teams, he’s a hard worker, he cares about his teammates, and he does a great job.”
Few NFL teams still carry a player at fullback because of roster real estate and the way that the sport has evolved but we do know GM Jon Robinson and Vrabel are always looking for…versatility (drink).
- Kevin Pamphile Is Your Starting Right Guard (For Now)
In asking Tennessee offensive line coach Keith Carter about the level of competition in their room with a spot at right guard to fill, he gave voice to something we have seen in offseason workouts but haven’t been able to report on because of restrictions.
#Titans OL coach Keith Carter has no small task finding cohesion with two new parts at guard and Conklin unavailable for a second straight offseason. Here’s Carter on rookie Nate Davis’ progress and the competition level in their room pic.twitter.com/B899v4H2QG
— Buck Reising (@BuckReising) June 12, 2019
“He came here, and we talked last year, he came here in free agency,” said Vrabel of Pamphile. “We talked to him about there being a few different elements of free agency, there’s two different phases. One, there’s the money phase where you go for the best money and you go for all the money you can. That’s part of free agency, we all understand that. Then, there’s another element. It’s about opportunity. At the time when I talked to Kevin (Pamphile), I said, ‘I think we’re in that opportunity stage.’ He came in, and he helped us, and he was versatile. Unfortunately, he got hurt. He worked hard to recover, and we wanted to have him back. We were able to get him back, and I think he’s taking advantage of the opportunity to go in there and try to compete.”
So, left to right, your offensive line heading into training camp is Taylor Lewan, Rodger Saffold, Ben Jones, journeyman Kevin Pamphile (palm-FEEL) and Dennis Kelly for the injured Jack Conklin.
- Corey Davis and A.J. Brown Have Been Inseparable
Brown’s hamstring tweak a couple weeks ago aside, the second-round pick out of Ole Miss has been spending a ton of his time on the practice field learning from his future P(artner) I(n) C(rime) Corey Davis.
“You gotta pay the cost to be the boss” – @Brown1arthur
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) May 21, 2019
If anyone can offer a rookie wide receiver advice on transitioning to the NFL, developing chemistry with Mariota and even dealing with a hammy, it is Corey Davis. Davis is constantly working with Brown in drills and after practice to help the newbie become more technically proficient. The sample size for Brown’s work has been small but having Davis being so hands-on can’t hurt.
Featured image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.