For the past three days, the Tennessee Titans offense had struggled against its own defense, especially in the red zone.
So, one of the narratives put out when the New England Patriots arrived Wednesday for the first of two joint practice sessions, was that a clearer picture of Tennessee’s offense might come into focus after work against a different opponent.
For the most part on Wednesday, the Titans offense again seemed to struggle to find a rhythm and any consistency.
At its worst, in a team drill where all the play were intermediate and occasional deep throws, quarterback Marcus Mariota completed just 1 of 6 throws in that period.
In that drill, second team QB Ryan Tannehill was intercepted by J.C. Jackson for what would have been a Patriots pick six. Tannehill later, in another drill, had a pass batted by defensive lineman Deatrich Wise and picked off by rookie linebacker Chase Winovich.
In fairness, Mariota operated without Delanie Walker and got only limited work from Corey Davis and A.J. Brown. And to compound matters, Adam Humphries went inside with a trainer after tweaking something in his leg.
“You can’t hang your hat on the previous play. You can’t worry about the result of it. You just have to continue the function and the process. I think it’s just little reminders to everybody in the huddle. You hear it throughout practice. It’s about finishing and it’s about being consistent. It’s a standard we talk about every single day,” Mariota said.
It wasn’t all bad for the Tennessee offense as Taywan Taylor, who struggled in the preseason opener with multiple drops against the Eagles, redeemed himself with a couple of big catches.
“You’ve got to adjust. Nobody is going to be perfect, but I’ve got to some out here and know how to respond to adversity. That’s what defines a man is being able to respond to adversity,” Taylor said.
By and large, though, the Titans offense again did not pick up enough chunk plays, setting often for safer passes and checkdowns. A couple of Taylor’s catches were for sizable gains. Brown had a nice over the shoulder grab on the outside from Tannehill in 7-on-7.
And on the final play of one period, Tannehill hit Cody Hollister with a pretty pass that got to the receiver just as he completed his break.
Old home week
For a couple of former Rutgers cornerbacks, it was a bit of déjà vu, as Logan Ryan is one of a host of former Patriots, who now play for the Titans, along with Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis. Also, former Titans cornerback Jason McCourty was back in his hold stomping grounds, returning to Nashville where he played the first eight years of his career.
“It helps so much seeing a new offense and seeing motions and formations that they use,” Ryan said. “It’s a change-up for us, and we adjust to it and watch film and see what we did good and bad and come out here tomorrow ready to improve ourselves,” Ryan said of working against his old team.
As for McCourty, he said things have changed since he left Nashville, but he was happy to see familiar faces.
“It’s cool. Coming back here, it looks a lot different than when I left. There’s not as many familiar faces, but it’s fun to see guys like Wood (Wesley Woodyard), Case (Jurrell Casey) and Tajae (Sharpe) and some of those guys. Coming out here and see so many guys you know and being at a place where you practiced every day for eight years is pretty cool,” McCourty said.
Delanie Walker was out of practice for a third straight day, but Coach Mike Vrabel said he hoped that Walker might be able to return on Thursday.
Also, wide receiver Adam Humphries left practice early and went inside to be treated for an undisclosed injury. Running back Derrick Henry ran on the side and did ladders. He had a sleeve on his injured left calf.
Guard Nate Davis remains out. Kevin Pamphile was the starter at right guard Wednesday after Jamil Douglas had three days with the first group.
The Patriots rookies serenaded Titans coach Mike Vrabel with “Happy Birthday,” singing to him at the start of practice.