As the Tennessee Titans gathered for their organized team activities on Tuesday, there was something missing.
It was the nameplates on the backs of the players’ jerseys.
The Titans practice jerseys – white for the offense, navy blue for the defense and red non-contact jerseys for the quarterbacks – had only numbers on the backs of them.
Asked for the reason why, Titans coach Mike Mularkey said that was the way he had always done it, dating back to his days as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
General manager Jon Robinson, who could be seen on the practice field observing the proceedings and taking notes, was used to a similar approach when he was with the New England Patriots as a scout and front office executive.
“That’s just something I’m familiar with. Jon was familiar with it. It’s really about the name on the front of the jersey that we’re talking about and always have been talking about, and it’s different. It’s change. It’s things I’m familiar with with Pittsburgh and he is with New England,” Mularkey said.
Aside from Byron Bell’s gruesome leg injury on Tuesday, there are other minor injuries from OTAs as well.
Linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, who is still recovering from a torn patella tendon last year, did not practice. The Titans also limited linebacker Deiontrez Mount, who is coming off ACL surgery from his rookie season as well.
Linebacker Derrick Morgan, tight end Anthony Fasano and fullback Jalston Fowler were all limited from contact due to shoulder injuries, with Fasano getting the most reps of that trio.
Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who had been limited in off-season work with a flare up of his hamstring, was a full go in practice Tuesday.
Receiver Harry Douglas was excused from practice for the birth of his daughter.
Rotation at guard
The Titans are planning on having a rotation of players work at the guard position as they try to determine this off-season who needs to be their starter, especially at left guard.
On Tuesday, it was incumbent starter Quinton Spain getting the first-team reps on the left with Chance Warmack, likely the starter on the right, in his familiar spot. The Titans have said they may look at Warmack on the left, however.
Others in the competition include second-year pro Jeremiah Poutasi and sixth-round pick Sebastian Tretola.
Left tackle Taylor Lewan could be seen on a number of plays blocking downfield at the second level, and that is another example Mularkey said he has seen from the former first-round pick in developing as a leader.
After a 2015 season where he dealt with a shoulder injury and inconsistent play, Lewan was even rumored to be shifted to right tackle. Now, he appears ready to prove his worth to the Titans.
“Taylor has been since the off-season program started one of our top guys in the weight room. When we’ve been out here, he’s been one of the top leaders out here, doing everything we’ve asked. He’s consistently finishing plays like we’ve asked him to,” Mularkey said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked and probably more than we’ve asked to step into that leadership role.”
Another change the Titans are implementing is the use of GPS tracking to monitor things like how far players are running and also players’ heart rate.
“You can monitor if you’re overloading guys,” Mularkey said.
There were officials at the Titans practice on Tuesday and they will continue to be a regular occurrence throughout the off-season.
By having officials there, Titans players will know exactly when penalties are committed. Penalties were a bugaboo last year for the Titans, especially during the Ken Whisenhunt era.