Quarterback Marcus Mariota looked comfortable at the helm of the Tennessee Titans offense for the first practice in full pads Sunday.
Other than a couple of throws that sailed on him, Mariota displayed pinpoint accuracy for most of the day. No harm was done on either of his misfires. The first was an out route that was too high for Tajae Sharpe and sailed out of bounds in team drills. The second was in the final red zone team period, when a fade route intended for MyCole Pruitt sailed well out of the back right corner of the end zone.
Among the highlights was a leaping grab on a deep go route from Corey Davis, who made the catch over solid coverage from Adoree’ Jackson. Mariota’s rapport with Adam Humphries appears to be developing as well, as they hooked up on an inside route in the first 11-on-11 session, and later with a bubble screen in another team period.
Later on in another team period, Mariota hit tight end Anthony Firkser on a curl route with precision timing and dropped in one to a sliding Tajae Sharpe along the far sideline as well. Mariota had a pair of long runs in each of the first two team periods, both after the protection broke down.
“I think that that’s just the carryover from a lot of the same stuff we’re doing, where we’re at in stuff the people like and wanted to add in the off-season. But the bulk of it, as we continue to talk about, is a lot of carryover,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “He knows exactly what he is seeing. We’re a multiple defense, so that through the course of training camp, he’s going to get a lot of those different looks against all the same plays, and maybe again it’s five or six different defenses.”
Mariota was not made available to the media following practice, but he said in his Friday press conference that building on what was done in the off-season work would be a key to making the offense run more smoothly.
“Well, it’s just building off of what we’ve done in OTAs. Not looking too far ahead, just staying in the moment, staying present, continuing our process. I think if we continue to build off of each single day, we’ll continue to get better and continue to improve,” Mariota said.
Finding a rhythm early in the practice and the period was a sign of a good day forthcoming, Vrabel added.
“It’s critical that we continue to get off to a good start. You can tell when the period gets off to the good start, everything else kind of falls into place. Conversely, when we don’t it’s an uphill battle,” Vrabel said.
In and out
Tackle Dennis Kelly, who is expected to fill in for the suspended Taylor Lewan for the first four games of the season, left practice during the next to last period Sunday limping and favoring his left leg after the first play of that period.
Kelly went inside to the trainers’ room and did not finish practice.
Vrabel said that Kelly’s injury did not appear too serious and said it could have been at least partially related to a hydration issue.
Several other players were held out of the first full pad practice – mainly veteran players and those already dealing with injuries. Veterans who got Sunday as a day of rest included tight end Delanie Walker, outside linebacker Cameron Wake, inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard and guard Rodger Saffold. Those dealing with previous injuries who did not practice were running back Derrick Henry, receiver A.J. Brown and defensive lineman Amani Bledsoe.
When asked about Henry, Vrabel termed his injury “a lower leg issue” and said he would be back as soon as he could. Henry was placed in a walking boot on Friday.
Bledsoe, an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma, is battling a hamstring issue, though it is only expected to keep him out a few days.
Hold the line
The Titans tried a little different combination as their starting offensive line with the first group on Sunday. Notably, second-year pro Aaron Stinnie was plugged in at right guard over Kevin Pamphile, who had been there the first two days. With Saffold continuing to be eased in, Jamil Douglas continues to get the bulk of the left guard snaps.
Jack Conklin was back with the first group and practice fully after getting Saturday off. Kelly played left tackle until his injury, and then was replaced by Lewan for the remainder of the day.
Play of the day
Corey Davis wowed the crowd with his leaping grab over Adoree’ Jackson. He also caught a ball in a bit of traffic in the red zone drill that was the final period practice.