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Camp Notebook: Titans Practice Resumes with Rookie Rematch

Posted Aug 10, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A rematch of rookies decided who went up and down.

Receiver Justin Hunter and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson lined up across the line of scrimmage. Earlier during Titans training camp Wreh-Wilson had bested Hunter in a round of the “Oklahoma” blocking drill, but Hunter won a receiving drill Saturday by catching a pass from Jake Locker against solid coverage.  

Justin Hunter holds the ball after a catch that forced all defenders to do a set of up-downs. Click here for the slideshow from Saturday.

The reception tipped the scales 3-2 in favor of receivers and forced the entire defense to do a set of punitive up-downs. Kenny Britt won a matchup against Tommie Campbell, and Damian Williams came down with a tough catch against Coty Sensabaugh. Jason McCourty broke up a pass against Nate Washington, and Alterraun Verner knocked the ball free from Kendall Wright’s grasp with persistence in the earlier rounds.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said he let assistants pick the matchups and the order of the competition.

“He made a great catch there to win the period for the offense,” Munchak said. “I think he got a lot of points with the veterans for that. (The offense) didn’t have to do the up-downs. He had a nice period later on.”

Hunter closed practice by making another difficult catch, this time for a touchdown, on a deep pass. Munchak said Hunter is continuing to develop and benefitting from the depth the Titans have at the receiver position.

Preseason Live: Tennessee Titans“He’s got a great room that’s pushing him hard and setting the standard, and I think that’s going to make him a really good football player,” Munchak said.

The drill offered an opportunity to get players and coaches ready to compete again after a day off that followed Thursday’s preseason opener against Washington. Tennessee had decreased some of the workload on players to prepare for the game. Many players didn’t stay in the game very long, and coaches wanted to make the most of four straight days of training camp practices before another scheduled off day that will be followed by preparing to play the Bengals in Cincinnati on Aug. 17.

“You played the game, but a lot of guys didn’t play a lot, so it really wasn’t that hard of a workout,” Munchak said. “Then they get a day off. It’s hard to get back. This isn’t just a game week; this is still training camp. That’s why we came out today. We had a great workout. The sun was out, so it was a nice warm day, which we needed. We had the pads on and had a good workout. We needed that and we need three more of these over the next three days.”

Britt said the one-on-one drill to open practice is one of his “favorites” because it sets a tempo and simulates pressure situations.

“You get the feeling of how the day is going to be and how they’re going to play you, and it gets in the cornerbacks’ heads early in practice of how the day is going to go because if we’re winning one-on-one, that makes our job easier during practice,” Britt said. “It’s tough when your last play depends on a rookie, but Justin Hunter made a great catch. He had a good catch at the end of practice. I’m excited to see him out there during the season.”

CHECK OUT TIME: Players who have been in the NFL at least four years and coaches reached the point where they were able to check out of the team hotel that everyone stayed in for the first two-plus weeks of training camp.

Munchak said benefits of requiring the entire team to stay in the hotel included: an environement where football could be the focus, camaraderie could be built and extended the convenience of allowing coaches a central location to meet at night. It is also close in proximity to Saint Thomas Sports Park, allowing some players to go back to rooms to catch naps and the added convenience of a quick commute as work days of double-digit hours started stacking up. The team, he said, will continue to have meetings at night as camp continues.

SCHWENKE RETURNS: Rookie Brian Schwenke (hamstring) returned to the practice field for individual work Saturday and wants to be in the mix for the starting center job, along with Rob Turner, Fernando Velasco and Chris Spencer, as soon as possible. Schwenke said this is the first time he’s experience a hamstring injury.

“I probably could have prevented it if I knew what was going on,” Schwenke said. “I thought it was just a little tight, normal camp soreness, but now I know if those things get tight it’s probably better to ease off a little, but it’s never happened before so I guess I had to learn the hard way.”

Veteran offensive linemen gave rookies creative haircuts this past week but opted only to clip the eyebrows off Schwenke, who said he was glad the veterans made the decision they did.

“It wasn’t my choice. They’re not that messed up where there just going to, I mean I haven’t had short hair in nine years,” Schwenke said. “That was all up to them. If they were going to cut it, they were going to cut it, but as you see, they went with the decision to shave my eyebrows. They’re coming back a little bit. I’ve been doing everything possible to get back them back as quick as possible.”

BUMPS AND BRUISES: Munchak said Marc Mariani, who overcame a broken leg he suffered last preseason to return Thursday, suffered a bruised shoulder that is worse than the team hoped and will likely need a week to two weeks of rest. … Titans players Rob Bironas, Markelle Martin, Daimion Stafford, Quinn Johnson, Greg Jones, Zaviar Gooden, Colin McCarthy, David Stewart and Sammie Hill did not practice Saturday.

THREE REMAIN: There are three remaining training camp practices that are free and open to the public. The sessions are scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, 3 p.m. Monday and 3:15 p.m. Tuesday. Click here for the list of players scheduled to sign autographs on those days.

Game Rewind: Tennessee Titans

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