Notes from the first padded practice of Titans training camp

The pads came on for the Titans for the first time in the 2021 season today. As you might expect, that led to a much more physical practice, starting with a live tackling drill that featured some rookie-on-rookie violence between Dez Fitzpatrick and Elijah Molden.

Roster Health Notes

PUP: OLB Bud Dupree
NFI: IOL Aaron Brewer
IR: OL Brandon Kemp
COVID: DB Chris Jones

A day after coming up with a slight limp after going to the ground in a team period, Julio Jones was held out of practice. No stretching, no individual periods, nothing. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise given how cautious the Titans have already been with their new 32-year old weapon, but it’s going to be something to monitor until we do see him return to the practice field.

Sticking at wide receiver, Josh Reynolds was also missing again today. He’s been out since leaving practice early last week. No word on when he might be ready to return.

Geoff Swaim is another player who hasn’t been seen in a couple of days. His absence may have been the trigger for adding Luke Stocker to the roster.

Caleb Farley was out there working for a second straight day after being activated off of the NFI list on Monday. He participated in individual drills, some light 1-on-1 work, and some walkthrough periods, but did not get in the mix for the team or 7-on-7 segments.

Harold Landry left practice early. Didn’t appear to be anything serious (and could have been part of his plan for the day), but something to keep an eye on.

Ben Jones went down at one point during a team red zone period and was holding his knee, but he was able to walk it off and get back into the lineup.

Standout Players

1. Jeffery Simmons
2. Denico Autry
3. Teair Tart

The interior of the Titans offensive line is a known strength for this team, which makes what Simmons, Autry, and Tart did today that much more impressive. These three were dominant on another good day of practice overall for the Titans defense. I spent a lot of time watching the offensive and defensive line groups today and it was a decisive win for the defense in the trenches. This group continues to trend in a very positive direction.

4. Ryan Tannehill

After some up and down days early in camp, Tannehill looked sharp today despite working without two of his top three pass catchers in Jones and Reynolds. He hit Luke Stocker on a tight end leak back for a big gain and later connected with Fred Brown on a deep post behind Jackrabbit Jenkins (who I believe slipped on the play). Tannehill was even better in the red zone, scrambling right and finding Darrynton Evans in the corner of the end zone with a perfectly placed ball before dropping a dime to A.J. Brown in the same corner a play or two later. There were no turnovers from 17 today either, with the only close call coming on a pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine that Chris Jackson got his hands on. Tannehill marched up to Westbrook after that play to give some correction to his young wide receiver.

5. Jayon Brown

Brown had a really nice practice in the middle of the Titans defense. He had a great pass breakup on a ball intended for Anthony Firkser and later combined with John Simon to get some pressure on the quarterback.

Kicker Update

We got our first look at the recently signed Sam Ficken today and he produced good early results, going 6-for-6. Tucker McCann matched him kick for kick on a rare perfect day for the Titans kickers.

McCann’s final kick from 50 had a bit of a low trajectory coming out, but cleared the line and sailed through the uprights with ease. The other 11 attempts from both kickers were comfortable makes with plenty of room to spare and good loft.

Other Practice Notes

  • I didn’t include Larrell Murchison in the group above, but I could have. He was very active during some half-line drills between the offensive and defensive fronts early in practice and combined with Rashaan Evans to blow up a run play in team periods later. He’s had a strong start to camp.
  • This was my first time seeing Caleb Farley in person and he’s incredibly impressive physically. Our own John Glennon made this comparison at practice today, so I’m going to borrow it here… looking at Farley standing next to the other corners is a lot like looking at Derrick Henry standing next to the other running backs. He’s just a completely different size athlete. Farley looked to be moving very well again. Hopefully we see him cut loose to participate in full team drills soon.
  • Jackrabbit Jenkins continues to look very good. He had a great PBU on a pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown during a team period and gave a finger wag in Tannehill’s direction afterwards.
  • Taylor Lewan is still not working in team periods, but he looks to be moving very well. I spent a lot of time watching the offensive line group today and you wouldn’t know that Lewan was coming off an ACL injury.
  • I spent some time watching Anthony Firkser during some of the half-line blocking drills and I thought he did a nice job. He’s not a mauler by any stretch of the imagination, but he was able to get a nice pin on Wyatt Ray to allow Darrynton Evans to reach the edge on one run.
  • This was a better day for DeShone Kizer in the backup quarterback competition. He floated a beautiful pass back across the field to Miller Forristall during a 7-on-7 period and hit Racey McMath over the middle for a nice gain as well.
  • John Simon had one of the biggest plays of the day for the defense when he stepped in front of a Logan Woodside pass for a red zone interception that he returned for about 40 yards.
  • Rookies Naquan Jones and Elijah Molden both had what would have been sacks in team period. Molden’s came on a well-executed corner blitz that would have stopped a screen to Darrynton Evans before it left the quarterback’s hands.
  • That play also featured the biggest hit of the day, when linebacker B.J. Bello came screaming down to pop Evans shortly after the catch.
  • Dillon Radunz was on the receiving end of a lot of coaching from Keith Carter today. Pad level and hand placement are key areas of focus for the offensive line as a whole, but particularly for Radunz. He did have a nice pickup on a twist during team periods.
  • Chester Rogers, Cameron Batson, and Mason Kinsey continue to be the primary punt return options in practice.
  • One of the most impressive plays of the day came in the final red zone period. Ryan Tannehill scrambled right chased by Jeffery Simmons, who was absolutely flying down the line of scrimmage. Just before Tannehill reached the sideline, he tossed a perfect pass to Darrynton Evans in the corner of the end zone. Evans was pretty well covered, but made a fantastic adjustment to turn his body late and make the catch while keeping his feet in bounds. It was good pressure from the defense, but better playmaking by Tannehill and Evans who created a touchdown from nothing.
Author: Mike HerndonAfter over 20 years of annoying his family and friends with constant commentary about the Titans, Mike started writing down his thoughts in 2017 for Music City Miracles. He loves to dive into the All-22 tape and highlight the nuanced details that win and lose football games. You can now find his tape breakdowns and Anthony Firkser love letters at Broadway Sports. Mike also spends time laughing at Lebowski and yelling at Zach on the Football and Other F Words Podcast.

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