The big test for the Tennessee Titans defensive backs came when the Tampa Bay Bucs arrived on Wednesday.
Titans cornerbacks and safeties got a chance to look at not only some receivers who are different from their own guys, but some guys with explosive talent as well.
In particular, the big physical play of the Bucs’ Mike Evans apparently gave the Titans defenders some problems at times in Wednesday’s work. Combine that with DeSean Jackson’s speed and talents, and the Bucs have enough to give any team a good challenge.
“Yeah, they were sharp, they were sharp. It started right off the bat in one-on-ones; they came out smoking. Just naked eye, I thought Mike had a really good day. DeSean didn’t get quite as many opportunities, but when he did he looked good. It should be no surprise; those guys are good players,” Bucs coach Dirk Koettter said.
Koetter said that the receivers should be winning the one-on-one matchups consistently with no pass rush to balance things out.
“When it’s one-on-one, the offense should win. There’s no pass-rush,” he said. “That’s an offensive drill. It evens out when you get to 11-on-11. They’ve got good corners, we’ve got good receivers – it’s fun to watch those guys compete.”
Titans safety Kevin Byard, who nearly picked off a pass in seven-on-seven, said it was good work for him and his fellow defensive backs.
“It was challenging. Mike Evans made a couple of catches and DeSean Jackson made a couple of big catches. I think the main thing was we just didn’t want to give up any big balls over our heads. I think we were pretty solid on that, but we’ll watch the film and try to get better from it,” Byard said.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who spent his day watching the Tennessee offense, said that receivers like Evans are a big-time test for the type of playmakers his secondary will have to try and slow down during the season without committing some of the penalties the Titans DBs had Wednesday..
“He’s a big, talented receiver that’s very gifted and has had a lot of success in this league,” Vrabel said of Evans. “You look at their receivers. They’ve got a skill type that may be smaller, quicker and faster, then they have some bigger guys who are able to play physical with you and are smart enough to know how to use their body and their hands to force you to grab and react to them.
“That’s why it’s good to go against these other teams because players have different skill sets. We’re going to play against bigger receivers in this league and we’re going to have to know how to cover them without fouling them.”
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston was extremely complimentary of the Titans’ secondary and the challenge they provided him and the wideouts on Wednesday..
“When you’ve got guys like Mike [Evans] and DeSean [Jackson] paired against Malcolm Butler and the [second-year cornerback] 25 [Adoree’ Jackson], oh my gosh, he’s incredible. So, it’s just good to get out here and compete,” Winston said. ““Those DBs, man. Those DBs, with Logan [Ryan] at nickel, they’re really good. They have a really good defense, [I have] a lot of respect for those guys. I’m blessed to have the guys that I have on our offensive side to go out there and compete against them.”