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Notebook: Titans 'Rewarded' During Minicamp Finale

Posted Jun 19, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt slightly shortened Thursday’s minicamp practice that completed the team’s offseason program and told players to prepare for a “tough” training camp.

“I wanted to be able to focus and not be distracted by it being our last day,” Whisenhunt said. “I rewarded them a little bit by cutting some things out, and they responded by practicing well.”

The minicamp wrapped up Whisenhunt’s first offseason program as Titans coach. The program began in April and included a voluntary minicamp (April 29-May 1) and phased progressions from conditioning to position group to team sessions in three weeks of organized team activity practices and minicamp.

Players are scheduled to have approximately five weeks of time away from Saint Thomas Sports Park but said they don’t consider it time off because they will study film and their playbooks on iPads and put themselves through individual training programs. They are scheduled to report back on July 25 and be on the field the following day.

“These next five weeks are going to be key to a lot of guys making the team or not making the team,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “It’s important we stress that to everybody.”

Whisenhunt was asked to assess the progress made during the offseason program.

“I think as a coach, probably in your first year as a team, you’re never where you want to be, but I think as far as establishing the way we work and from an installation perspective, I think we’ve got a lot done,” he said. “The point we emphasized to the group today was that when we come back, it’s going to be tough. We’ve got to really pick it up and get going. That’s going to be the next test for this group: how they handle this next five weeks. The rookies, they don’t know what’s coming from the standpoint of how long this season can be but the veterans do and I hope they understand what it takes in this time to be ready when we start.”

Jason McCourty said the team made some accomplishments in installing its new offense and defense but it will be important to keep improving when camp opens. He said veterans communicated to younger players how important the use of their free time will be.

“We definitely have a lot more work to do, and that’s what training camp is for,” McCourty said. “It’s important for guys to take a little bit of time for yourself and get right back to work because camp is going to be hard and we’re going to need every guy in the best shape of their life and we’ve got to be prepared to do some special things this year.”

Running back Dexter McCluster, who joined Tennessee via free agency in March, said the team “definitely got better” from the start of the program to its conclusion.

“We’re closer, we know what we’re doing, we’re making plays and having fun, and as a team it’s the same thing so we’re out there competing and know the potential we have, so that’s going to motivate us to work harder,” McCluster said.

CLEARER PICTURE: McCourty said the picture of the offense and defense became “a lot more clear” than the curiosity that existed when the Titans announced the changes to the coaching staff. He said leaders tried to learn the system fast so they could help younger players.

“When you hear that and meet the coaches and get a chance to talk to them, you still have no idea what it’s going to be, and after this offseason, now it’s clear as day, understanding what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” McCourty said. “That’s huge for me, (George Wilson), (Bernard Pollard and Michael Griffin), especially in our secondary with being the leaders. All of us have an understanding of it, and it helps us when a younger guy asks a question to be able to give an answer and explanation.”

Tight end Delanie Walker, who was rested Thursday because of what Whisenhunt called a “tweaked” neck that occurred Wednesday, said he kind of knew what to expect from his time with the 49ers when he was competing against Arizona teams coached by Whisenhunt.

“The coaches he brought in are all great coaches. They know how to win,” Whisenhunt said. “They’ve been on winning teams, so putting in a new playbook is always going to be difficult, but at the end of the day, I feel like everybody is getting it and they’re going to keep putting us in scenarios that put us in game-winning situations, so I feel like it’s been going good now.”

QB RANKS: Quarterback Jake Locker participated fully in the minicamp and 10 OTA practices after working his way back from a Lisfranc injury that cost him the last half of 2013 and required surgery in November.

The remaining three Titans quarterbacks have joined the team since: Tyler Wilson, a 2013 fourth-round draft pick of Oakland, was signed off the Raiders’ practice squad in December; veteran Charlie Whitehurst was signed during free agency; and Zach Mettenberger was drafted in the sixth round in May.

Whisenhunt said Whitehurst will enter training camp as the number two QB.

“That’s why we signed Charlie to come in here,” Whisenhunt said. “Charlie has had a good offseason. I think he’s done a really good job. I think Jake and he have both done well.”

NEW ADDITION: The Titans announced on Thursday that they signed TE Dorin Dickerson and waived TE undrafted rookie David Wright.

Dickerson was drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh by the Houston Texans in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He was offered a tryout over the course of minicamp.

Asked for an assessment of Dickerson, Whisenhunt said, “I think he’s more like Delanie Walker for us.”

GUEST READER: Nate Washington plans to spend part of next week reading a couple of books to children at his daughter’s school. He said he hadn’t learned what he would be reading but was excited about it.

“I’m kind of scared because I get enthusiastic sometimes and I don’t want to go overboard with the kids but I’m pretty sure I’ll have an awesome time with them,” Washington said.

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