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Notebook: Day Off is Day Earned

Posted Jun 19, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Mike Munchak was pleased enough with the progress made during the team’s nine-week offseason program that he decided to wrap up the team’s mandatory mini-camp on Wednesday a day early.

Munchak said he’d thought about it earlier this week and decided to tell players they earned Thursday off through the intensity they brought during voluntary organized team activity practices the three previous weeks.

“I don’t necessarily give it a grade, but I’m really excited about where we’re at, how we competed, how they have a great understanding, I think, already of what we’re doing,” Munchak said. “Like last year, there were still a lot of decisions still with the quarterback to be made, things like that which kept us from kind of doing all the things we wanted to do.”

Jake Locker is the starting quarterback this year, as opposed to competing for the spot into the 2012 training camp, and the offense has been constructed by coordinator Dowell Loggains around Locker’s strengths.

Since he liked the way the offense and defense grasped new concepts in OTAs, Munchak used the first two days of mini-camp to put players and coaches through unscripted simulated games with officials. Players liked the challenges presented on each side of the ball, chirping across the line and even arguing a call or two, most notably when Locker connected with Damian Williams for what appeared to be a touchdown pass before officials ruled Williams would have been tackled if hitting was allowed.

Williams objected, and Locker overed his version of evidence by diving to the ground to demonstrate his take on the "tackle."

A more satisfying feeling among players, however, was a consensus that the day off had been earned by everyone. Players plan to get some rest but stay in shape and keep July 24 in their minds when they are scheduled to report back to Baptist Sports Park and open training camp July 25.

“That was some good news that Munchak gave us,” defensive end Derrick Morgan said. “We appreciate it, but we’ve been working hard for the last three or four weeks, really the whole nine-week offseason. I think guys earned it and we feel good about it going into this little break we’ve got.

Titans receiver Kenny Britt said he appreciated the opportunity to fully participate in the offseason program. It’s a big difference from last season when he was recovering from multiple knee surgeries at this point of the calendar.

“Everybody brought a different level to the game in these OTAs. Everybody had a passion every time they stepped on the field,” Britt said. “There weren’t any days where we stepped into the weight room and everybody didn’t want to lift. There weren’t guys with their head down like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be here.’ Most of the guys were out there and they were running hard and practicing hard. Everybody was enthusiastic. There were some days the offense was having great practices and the defense was having great practices but that’s what you’re going to have on great teams.”

CJ SAYS TEAM RUNNING TO ‘PROVE A POINT’: Even though pads haven’t been allowed during the offseason program, Chris Johnson said Wednesday that the running game is making strides.

“I’m encouraged by (the progress),” Johnson said. “Each day we’re getting better and better, but we’ve still got to wait until we get pads on to see how it turns out.”

Johnson has said throughout the offseason that he likes the playbook Loggains has designed and the commitment the organization is making to running the football.

“You just see everybody working hard and trying to prove a point, trying to get back to that old Titans team we were when we teams know we’re fixing to run the ball and we still go out and do it,” Johnson said.

HUNTER TRIES TO SNEAK A PLAY: Rookie receiver Justin Hunter, the Titans’ second-round pick at 34th overall in the NFL Draft, returned to action for seven-on-seven drills and a team period in warm-ups and wanted more.  

“I was actually (hoping to play today),” Hunter said. “I snuck in for a play and then they caught me and told me to get off (the field). The OC caught me.”

The Titans played on the side of caution with Hunter and other players who had minor injuries pop up during the offseason program because they want everyone to be as healthy as possible for the start of training camp.

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