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Camp Notebook: Offense Sets Tempo Early

Posted Jul 25, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s offense came out firing in seven-on-seven passing drills Thursday, the first day of the Titans’ 2013 training camp.

The offense forced speed and tempo, with quarterback Jake Locker completing passes to five different receivers on his first five attempts before backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick rotated in for a series and completed his first three passes.

“I think we did a great job. Jake looked awesome to me,” receiver Nate Washington said. “I’ve never seen this from Jake. He put the ball in some great spots. I saw touch on the ball from him today, great awareness, he did an awesome job of going through his reads. I think he’s really picking up the game right now. With your leader doing that and making those plays, I think it’s going to push us all in the right direction.

“We’re doing some good things so we just have to make sure we’re building day after day, making sure we’re getting better and better,” Washington continued. “I think the offense took a step back in the team period but our defense was still doing an awesome job of being aggressive and doing what they need to do, so starting back from day one, we just have to assess it and make sure we’re closing those days out.”

Locker told reporters during a media session the day before that he felt “comfortable and confident” with the new offensive system the Titans are using under Dowell Loggains and explained how excited he was to take the field and build off the team’s nine-week offseason program.

“I understand it, I know it and I believe in it,” Locker said. “I think when you have those things, you’re able to play to the best of your ability.”

Jake Locker came out firing sharply Thursday, the first time the Titans hit the field for their 2013 training camp. Click here for a slideshow.

Locker is entering this camp as Tennessee’s starting QB unlike a season ago when he was in a battle for the job with veteran Matt Hasselbeck.

Whether it was the crispness in his voice during an audible at the line of scrimmage or showing faith in Kendall Wright to win a jump ball deep down the field against single coverage or taking what was available underneath, Locker demonstrated much more comfort than a season ago when he started 11 games but missed time with a separated shoulder that received surgical repair in January.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said he thinks Locker’s confidence has increased and he displayed it Thursday.

“Like we said, it’s a total different feel for him knowing that he is the guy that the offense is tailored around,” Munchak said. “I think he’s excited about knowing exactly what he needs to do. He feels he has good control over what we’re doing, a good understanding of it. Now, it’s just about coming out here against our defense and just executing. So, I think he’s going to take it day-by-day like the rest of us, like he needs to and go from there.”

The defense responded when the team moved to the 11-on-11 period, and won more plays, muddying the mythical scoreboard for the day, but providing encouragement for both sides of the football.

“The offense did a great job, as far as starting out,” Titans safety Bernard Pollard said. “I think, for us, we did a great job of adjusting and getting used to what they were doing. We’re knocking a lot of the cobwebs out so we can’t do anything but go up.

Pollard, who joined the Titans as a free agent after helping Baltimore win Super Bowl XLVII and was the only Titan who opted to wear pants with pads Thursday (everyone else was in shorts), has been a significant factor in an attitudinal shift. He said he saw good things out of Tennessee, but the team must consistently play well and continue to build each day through camp.  

“We’ve got a great chance at being outstanding. We want to be No. 1. We’re not going to settle for anything less,” Pollard said. “We expect to win games; we expect to go to the playoffs. We expect to go to the Super Bowl, but you have 31 other teams saying that exact same thing. It’s going to boil down to who means it. We’ve got to be one of the teams that mean what we say. We’ve got to be one of the teams that when we go and play, we’ve got to establish our dominance. Nobody respects Tennessee, so we’ve got to go take something.”

HUNTER ADJUSTS TO TEMPO: Rookie receiver Justin Hunter, who missed a substantial portion of the Titans’ offseason program because of a hamstring injury, said the speed of the game was noticeable during his first training camp practice.

Hunter said, “I think I did OK, not good enough. I think I could have done a lot better with knowing what I was supposed to do and executing it a little better,” of his first practice.

He also split his lip when he didn’t have his mouthpiece in during drills. It caused a streak of blood down the front of his jersey, but he finished the day, which has been a point of emphasis from receivers coach Shawn Jefferson.

“Coach wanted us to stay in the fight,” Hunter said. “If we’re tired, try to go six more seconds so we’re trying to push it to the limit.”

O-LINEMEN RETURN: First-round draft pick Chance Warmack has not been signed and not reported to camp yet, but the Titans were encouraged by the team-drill participation of projected starters Michael Roos, Andy Levitre and David Stewart, as well as veteran Chris Spencer. Each player was limited or missed time during the offseason program.

“We limit their reps in the team periods, but they’re participating in every drill we had,” Munchak said. “They’re doing well, which is the good part. We can’t worry about who’s not here. Obviously, we want all our guys here and Chance, I’m sure he’ll be here soon, but the good thing is we got the rest of them.”

OPEN PRACTICE: The Titans are scheduled to hold their first of 12 practices that are free and open to the public from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday. Click here for more information.

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