On one of the hottest days of practice, the competitiveness finally boiled over into the first fight of the 2018 training camp.
But it wasn’t some low-round draft pick or undrafted rookie working to get noticed, the fracas was between left tackle Taylor Lewan and outside linebacker Derrick Morgan, two cornerstone starters for the Tennessee Titans.
Dennis Kelly and Coach Mike Vrabel were among a group of players and coaches trying to break up the fight that lasted about 15 to 20 seconds before both combatants were made to leave the field, as per Vrabel’s rules.
“I think that happens sometimes when you’re competing. The heat gets everybody a little bit. We talk about that. We can’t fight. Those guys know that, so we’ll have to move on,” Vrabel said after practice.
As for his rules, Vrabel said that if players fight in a game, they get ejected, so he implements that on the practice field to indicate the seriousness of it.
“As you can tell on Saturday night, the penalties and rules apply to everybody out there on the field,” he said. “That’s what’s going to happen on Saturday’s when these guys are fighting. We’re trying to make it as realistic as possible. I’m trying to do a better job of making sure what the penalties are to eliminate that. That’s for starters- they kick you out of the game.”
Back in action: Wide receiver Corey Davis was a full participant in Saturday’s work after missing practice last week and Thursday’s preseason opener against Green Bay. Davis was back and taking part, running with the first team offense in several drills.
Out of practice: Among the players missing from practice on Saturday were rookie outside linebackers Harold Landry and Sharif Finch, both of whom watched some of practice.
Rashaan Evans, whom Vrabel finally admits is suffering from an injury, was absent once again. Evans limped off the field on July 28 and has not been seen since. Initially, dismissed the situation as “heat-related,” but Evans has now been out for more than two weeks.
Also out was Brian Orakpo and David King.
Working on the side. Orakpo and PUP tackle Jack Conklin were doing some work on the side with the team’s training staff, a possible indication that they are on the mend. Orakpo has been out with a shoulder injury, while Conklin, who was pushing a weighted sled, has been out since tearing his ACL in the playoff loss to the Patriots.
“I think Jack’s doing great. His attitude has been good,” Vrabel said. “He’s been really able to take care of his upper body and get stronger through his upper body as he’s rehabbed his knee, and now he’s kind of combining everything with the weight lifting and the upper body and adding in the lower body exercises. He seems to be doing pretty well.”
Interceptions aplenty: The Titans defense picked off at least three passes in Saturday’s work. Jayon Brown stepped in front of Delanie Walker to pick off a pass that was behind Marcus Mariota’s target on the play Late in practice, Mariota was intercepted again, when Malcolm Butler timed it perfectly and stepped in between Nick Williams and the ball to pick it off.
Also, Kendrick Lewis in 7-on-7 work intercepted Blaine Gabbert in the end zone and as he began running with the ball toward the other end zone, head coach Mike Vrabel ran with him for about 30 yards and smiled as he ran.
“Sure, because I like Kendrick (Lewis). I like them all, but Kendrick was a teammate. He’d been out,” Vrabel said. “I remember Kendrick as a rookie, so it’s just weird looking out and thinking, ‘Man, that guy was like playing safety, and I was playing linebacker.’ So, I’m still trying to figure that one out, too.”
Play of the day: Darius Jennings continues to impress, as he made a diving catch on a deep ball during team drills on Saturday.
“He’s doing great. He’s done that since the spring. He’s competed. The other thing is he’s been out there every single day. He hasn’t taken a day off. He hasn’t had a nick, he hasn’t had a this, had a that. He just goes out and catches the ball, makes plays, happy getting into the end zone,” Vrabel said of Jennings.
Long shot of the day: Devin Ross caught a deep pass with a dive as well on a deep throw from second-team quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Ross has continued to get extra reps and extra work with other receivers, most notably Davis and Rishard Matthews, missing time.
Roster moves: The Titans made a pair of moves at cornerback, adding Kenneth Durden and Trey Caldwell to their 90-man roster on Saturday and releasing cornerbacks Joseph Este and Jarrell Carter.
To show just how the NFL can stand for “Not For Long,” the two newcomersl were immediately assigned jersey Nos. 38 (Durden) and 39 (Caldwell), which had been worn by Este and Carter, respectively.