- Accepting All Charges – Tennessee Titans Week Two Recap - September 19, 2023
- Back To Square One – Tennessee Titans Week One Recap - September 11, 2023
- A New Dawn And A New Day –2023 AFC East Preview - September 6, 2023
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Titans are in full swing now with Mandatory minicamp this week. Some familiar faces are here in two-tone blue, as well as some new ones.
Tennessee has a lot of optimism from the top down and the product that has been displayed thus far shows why. Here are a couple of highlights from Titans Minicamp on June 7th, 2023.
DeAndre Hopkins A Titan?
DeAndre Hopkins, or “Nuk” as he is affectionately known, is a hot commodity right now. After his release from the Arizona Cardinals, Hopkins news was at a premium, as buzz around the former All-Pro has been mute.
That changed as NFL Insider Tom Pelissero reported that Hopkins will pay a visit to Tennessee on Sunday, June 11th. It will be his first free agent visit and a pivotal one for the Titans. Tennessee needs an infusion of talent in the receiver room and Hopkins would be just what the doctor ordered.
Tennessee has a battle behind Ryan Tannehill. Both Will Levis and Malik Willis have had tough days and also flashes of what made them intriguing talents.
Both were solid on Wednesday. In individual drills, Levis had some deep passes that looked like works of art. His touch has improved but he left one or two behind the receivers in the deep ball drill. Willis’s touch was great and the arm strength is evident for each of the young signal callers.
Willis’ footwork and command of the huddle looks significantly better than it did last year. He showed good poise in the team period and didn’t make any costly mistakes.
Levis had an up and down team period but showed what made him such a sought after prospect. He showed solid athleticism and improvisational instincts. His best play came on a dart to Colton Dowell near the front pylon for a touchdown.
Neither QB has widened the gap, but as camp and preseason work approaches they have a chance to set themselves apart.
Confidence Is Peaking
From Tim Kelly to Shane Bowen to Treylon Burks, confidence is at an all time high at Baptist Sports Park.
Burks in particular spoke about how his confidence has helped him as he grows into his role within the Titans’ organization. His personality shined on Wednesday and he seems more comfortable in this offense. When asked about how his personality has positively impacted his play he said: “that just comes with having fun, not going out there thinking…just knowing you’re going to make mistakes but keep going.”
Burks looks poised to have a surge in year two and that confidence could carry him a long way.
Secondary Is First
It’s natural for defenses to be better than offenses early on, especially when the offense is being revamped.
This Titans’ defense has been active but the group that stands out is the secondary.
Kristian Fulton was absent on Wednesday from the team period but even with their CB1 out, the secondary was stingy. Tennessee worked on some low redzone scenarios in the team period. Despite some good plays from Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis and Will Levis, the Titans’ defense won the day. One of the highlights of the day was an excellent breakup from Eric Garror on a pass from Malik Willis to Josh Whyle.
The defense hasn’t been without fault though, as Mike Vrabel highlighted the fact that the defense had seven or eight pass interference calls on Tuesday. Regardless, this secondary is probably the best unit on this defense thus far.
Titans faithful know the name Kevin Byard and leader are synonymous in this organization, but there are a few players that are emerging as leaders right before our eyes.
The most obvious name is Jeffery Simmons. When asked about Simmons’ leadership, Shane Bowen had this to say: “He’s our guy that sets the tone. we want to be physical, we want to be relentless, you see that from him every snap.” He went on to say: “I would put a lot of money on it, that there is not another d-lineman that plays as hard as Jeffery Simmons play in and play out.”
That’s high praise for Simmons, who just signed an extension this offseason.
Two more players that have shown excellent leadership are new additions Azeez Al-Shaair and Arden Key.
Their leadership has been more by example, and it has brought a different energy to this team. Key was praised by Both Kelly and Bowen for how he practices and his infectious energy. He showed some of that on Wednesday, as he was all smiles and performed in every drill with maximum effort.
Al-Shaair has been a key piece since his signing in Nashville. Bowen had glowing reviews for the young linebacker, saying: “Azeez, he’s the ultimate pro. Every single day he comes to work, he talks to other guys…he coaches other guys.” Coach Vrabel said, “He [Al-Shaair] seems like he has been here longer than he has.” This young man has been a pillar of consistency through the offseason thus far and that goes a long way.
Last but certainly not least is veteran safety Armani Hooker.
Hooker showed a lot of maturity and has been called upon with such a young team to be one of the leaders. He showed what a leader looks like Wednesday during team periods. During a play in the redzone, coach Scott Booker asked Kevin Byard to coach up one of the young safeties on the team. Even though Byard did just that, Hooker went the extra mile, giving his teammate a hands-on demonstration of the scheme and assignment.
That is a positive sign of what this team has as far as defensive backs and overall leaders in this organization.
The Tennessee Titans are a team looking to take the next step, and this minicamp is showing they are moving in the right direction. They have a lot to look forward to as the season approaches.