NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)No bowling. No golfing. No skeet shooting.
The Tennessee Titans wrapped up their three-day minicamp Thursday by running, meeting and running some more. No practice – but the kind of in-person experience everyone in the NFL missed in the offseason a year ago.
Coach Mike Vrabel said they ran to make sure everyone knows where they are with conditioning and where the Titans want them for the start of training camp in late July. There’s also no comparison possible to 2020, when the offseason program was conducted virtually.
”We have to be well ahead of where we were last year with some of the younger players that are coming into our program for the first time,” Vrabel said.
The Titans didn’t get much from their rookie class in 2020, with their top draft pick no longer in the NFL after Isaiah Wilson was traded to Miami in March. Cornerback Kristian Fulton started two games but played only six, while running back Darrynton Evans played five. Both were limited by injuries.
This year, top draft pick Caleb Farley is recovering from back surgery in March but has been busy learning the defense. Farley and the rest of the rookies are sticking around to finish the team’s program designed to help them transition from college to the NFL. They’ll also continue working out.
Questions still to be answered include who replaces Jonnu Smith, now with the Patriots, at tight end. Training camp is when the Titans will learn more about the tight ends vying to take Smith’s starting spot, a group led by Anthony Firkser.
Left tackle Taylor Lewan, who tore his right ACL last October, has no timetable for his return but said Wednesday he is at the conditioning point of his recovery instead of rehab.
Outside linebacker Bud Dupree says he’s recovering well after tearing his right ACL last December, but the timetable for his debut on the Titans’ practice field hasn’t been shared with reporters. Farley told reporters during the rookie minicamp in May he hopes to be ready for training camp.
And for a second straight training camp, the Titans have a competition at kicker, with Tucker McCann and undrafted rookie Blake Haubell of Ohio State, who was not seen at minicamp, vying for the job. McCann spent last season on the practice squad after four-time Pro Bowler Stephen Gostkowski was signed Sept. 3.
Vrabel said there’s no rush to put both kickers into situations to better evaluate them, which will come in training camp and preseason.
”We have to make a decision at that point in time, if that’s what’s best for the team and one of those guys moving forward,” Vrabel said. ”But everything that we’ve seen thus far, you know, those guys are continuing to prove and work with the timing and the operation.”
The Titans worked this offseason in coaches’ offices and meeting rooms relocated to the indoor field due to the team’s headquarters being renovated since last season ended. It’s part of a construction project that started in December 2019 to more than double the size of the facility.
Vrabel compared the progress of the construction to players returning from injuries with the team not sharing timelines.
”We’re excited to get back in there whenever it happens,” Vrabel said. ”The computers work out here, we’ll be just fine wherever we have to be.”
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