For Day 2, of the Titans and Patriots joint scrimmage, my primary focus was on the Titans defense matching up against Tom Brady and the New England offense.
In the red zone where the Titans defense has been so stingy against its own offense in training camp, the first part of that period with the first group against Brady was impressive – for a time.
In 7-on-7, the Titans kept the Patriots’ first-team offense out of the end zone for the first six plays, before Brady cracked the code, throwing TD passes on four straight throws in the period from inside the 5.
The fun part of that was Titans coach Mike Vrabel watching the action from behind Brady, chiding his own guys after a blown assignment allowed one score, and digging at Brady and insinuating that maybe Vrabel needed to report as eligible (as he did as a goal line tight end as a player with the Patriots) when veteran Benjamin Watson couldn’t haul in a Brady pass in the back of the end zone.
Vrabel was asked how far back his chirping with Brady goes back and he remarked, “March 15,2001,” which would have been the off-season program from Vrabel’s first season in New England.
Brady, who gave Vrabel a small trophy with the score of last year’s 34-10 Titans win on it at the start of practice Thursday, said he likes what Vrabel is doing with the Titans. As for their trash talking, Brady said it is all part of the friendship. When asked if the talk was less on Thursday than Wednesday, the Pats’ star QB disagreed.
“Really? I wouldn’t describe it as civil, but he’s been a good friend for a long time,” Brady said. “Obviously, he’s done a great job leading this team, and [I’m] proud of him, everything he’s accomplished. We all support him even though he’s coaching for another team. It was just really good work between these two teams who – you know, they took care of us pretty good last year – and we knew it was going to be competitive, so it’s been a good couple of days.”
Brown stands up
Rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown, who has flashed since coming back from his hamstring injury, got into a brief scrum with veteran Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore on the field during red zone team drills. The matter was quickly broken up. One reporter asked if the fight was really a “fight,” and Vrabel quickly corrected him, saying, “If that’s a fight to you, man, you’ve never been in a fight. We just don’t want any punches thrown.”
Brown stood his ground against the veteran, even as a rookie.
“A lot of respect for Gilmore, he’s a great player. Things get a little heated out here. It’s hot and tempers get to flaring. He’s a great player. It happens. It’s football,” Brown said. “Regardless of who it is, disrespect is disrespect. You can’t tolerate disrespect, so I was just trying to do my job. I was just trying to get back to the huddle. He was just talking. We were just going back and forth. I’m just trying to ease the conversation. It is what it is. It’s football. Things happen.”
Vrabel said he liked the competitiveness that Brown showed as well.
“Pushing and shoving to me in pro football is not losing your composure. Taking a swing at a guy or ripping somebody’s helmet off is losing your composure. If that happened, we’ll get that addressed, but I don’t think it got to that,” Vrabel said. “I like to see all our players compete and finish longer than the guy with the ball.”
Cornerback Tye Smith had a good day again on Thursday. On Wednesday, he forced a ball out for a fumble, and on Thursday, Smith, who missed all of last season, broke up a pass on a flea-flicker in team drills, and also had another pass breakup later in the day.
“Tye was another one of those guys – Tye and Adoree’ (Jackson). Tye had a great punch out yesterday on the field, whether it was a run play action, just finishing running over. There was a toss crack and he hammered the ball out. So, those are good things to be able to be productive and be able to play multiple coverages,” Vrabel said.
Who’s in and out
Adam Humphries, who warmed up on Thursday, did not practice after stretch. Humphries suffered a minor injury in Wednesday’s work about halfway through practice and did not finish.
Derrick Henry remains out, but was working on the side again.
David Fluellen, Nate Davis, Nigel Harris, Cameron Wake and Rodger Saffold were out of practice for Tennessee on Thursday.