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Titans Set for Start of Training Camp

Posted Jul 25, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans are scheduled to begin training camp this week at Baptist Sports Park in Nashville.  Rookies and quarterbacks reported on Tuesday, July 24, and they will be joined by the remaining veterans on Friday, July 27.
 
Fans of the Titans can get their first glimpse of the 2012 squad on Sunday, July 29, the first of 13 total training camp practices that will be free for the public to attend.  Training camp is is the only time of the year that practices are open to the general public.

Training camp will operate similarly to previous years.  Free parking is available directly across the street from Baptist Sports Park (460 Great Circle Road) at the CVS/Caremark corporate offices.  A tent will be on site next to the practice field selling a wide selection of Titans apparel and merchandise, and cold non-alcoholic beverages will also be available to purchase.  Fans can watch practice from the perimeter of the three outdoor practice fields, but spectators should be prepared to stand in typical Middle Tennessee summer heat for the duration of their visit, as shade and seating are very limited.

Additionally, the Titans will spend one day during this year’s training camp practicing against the Atlanta Falcons in Dalton, Ga.  The two teams will meet at Coahulla Creek High School at 4:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 6, for one practice session in pads.  Dalton is 160 miles from Nashville, nearly midway between Atlanta and Nashville off I-75, offering both fan bases a chance to get an early glimpse of their clubs. The Titans will bus there and back the day of the practice.

For an up-to-date camp schedule, fans can call the team’s training camp hotline at (615) 565-4190, or they can go to the team’s official website, TitansOnline.com/TrainingCamp. 

Additionally, fans can follow the Titans through camp on the club’s social media platforms, including facebook.com/titans and Google .  On Twitter, users can follow the team at @tennesseetitans and also use the hashtag #Titans.

MUNCHAK’S SECOND SEASON

Head coach Mike Munchak, in his 31st season with the franchise, enters his second training camp at the helm and his first following a full offseason.  The Titans took full advantage of NFL rules that allow teams a total of nine weeks of offseason workouts, 10 days of organized team activities and three minicamp sessions. 

The offseason program was a luxury Munchak did not have in his first year.  After he was promoted from offensive line coach to his current post in February 2011, labor unrest between the NFL and NFL Players Association resulted in a lockout of the players that lasted until late July. 

Still, Tennessee went on to finish second in the AFC South with a 9-7 record in Munchak’s first season, a game behind the 10-6 division champion Houston Texans.  The Titans finished just shy of the postseason upon losing a head-to-head tiebreaker with the 9-7 Cincinnati Bengals.

In the process of leading the Titans to three more wins in 2011 than they recorded in 2010, Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard who originally joined the team in 1982, became the sixth Titans/Oilers head coach to reach nine wins in his first season.  Of the eight NFL head coaches in 2011 who were in their first full season at their post, only San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh, whose team had 13 wins, finished with more wins than Munchak.

Munchak heads a 19-man coaching staff, of which 14 members are returning from 2011.  Both coordinators¬—Chris Palmer on offense and Jerry Gray on the defensive side—enter their second seasons on the job. 

THE ROSTER

General manager Ruston Webster has overseen the construction of the Titans roster, which is permitted to reach 90 players at the start of training camp.
 
Webster was promoted to the job in January, when Adams announced significant restructuring of the front office.  Mike Reinfeldt, who held the title of general manager since 2007, simultaneously was promoted to senior executive vice president/chief operating officer, and Lake Dawson was given the title of vice president of player personnel.

Reinfeldt now oversees both football and non-football aspects of the organization, while Webster controls the day-to-day football operations for the team.

Webster, age 49, has seven previous years of experience heading up the player personnel departments on three different teams—two years with the Titans (2010–2011), four with the Seattle Seahawks (2006–2009) and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2005). His time in Seattle included a stint as interim general manager in 2009.  The Ole Miss graduate has spent the majority of his professional career with the Buccaneers, gaining experience as a regional scout for 10 seasons (1988, 1992–2000), director of pro personnel for three seasons (1989–1991) and director of college scouting for four years (2001–2004).

In April, Webster selected Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright with the 20th overall selection in the NFL Draft.  Wright was the most prolific receiver in Baylor history, setting school records in nearly every receiving category, including 302 career receptions, 4,004 yards and 30 touchdowns.  
      
Wright heads up a seven-member draft class that also includes linebacker Zach Brown, defensive tackle Mike Martin, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, tight end Taylor Thompson, safety Markelle Martin and defensive end Scott Solomon.

The Titans also looked to free agency to upgrade the roster during the offseason.  One of their first moves was to sign guard Steve Hutchinson to bolster the offensive line.  A 6-5, 313-pound former first-round draft pick, Hutchinson is a veteran of five previous seasons with the Seattle Seahawks and six years with the Minnesota Vikings.  He has earned seven career Pro Bowl berths (2003-09) and five first-team All-Pro selections (2003, 2005, 2007-09).
 
The Titans also upgraded the defensive line with the signing of defensive end Kamerion Wimbley.  A six-year NFL veteran, Wimbley (6-4, 255) has totaled 42.5 career sacks in 94 regular season starts. He played the last two seasons with the Oakland Raiders after starting his career with the Cleveland Browns (2006-09). In his two seasons with the Raiders, he registered 32 starts and 16 sacks, including seven in 2011.  Wimbley was a first-round pick by the Browns and set the club’s rookie record with 11 sacks in 2006. 

THE COMPETITION

Once training camp begins, the Titans will have two weeks before they open the preseason on Saturday, Aug. 11 in Seattle.  By Aug. 27, the roster must be trimmed from 90 to 75 players.  On Aug. 31, the final roster cutdown will leave the club at 53 players, leading into the regular season opener at LP Field against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 9.

In the meantime, the Titans will have several positional battles to solve.  Most notably, Munchak has declared the starting quarterback job an open competition between incumbent Matt Hasselbeck and last year’s first-round draft choice, Jake Locker.

Hasselbeck, a 14-year veteran, was signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Seahawks last year on the same day players reported for training camp.  He quickly took charge of the huddle, started all 16 games, and produced one of the best seasons in franchise history by a quarterback.  His 3,571 passing yards¬ made up the fourth-highest total in team annals, and his 18 touchdowns passes were the most by a Titans quarterback since 2004 (Billy Volek).  With 28 completions of 25 yards or more, Hasselbeck recorded the highest big-play total since Steve McNair in 2001 (32).

But this season, Hasselbeck will need to fend off Locker, the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.  In limited duty as a rookie, Locker passed for 542 yards and four touchdowns without throwing an interception, and he added 56 yards and one touchdown on the ground.  Against the Saints on Dec. 11, he passed for 282 yards, the second-highest total in franchise history by a rookie signal caller (331 by Jacky Lee on Nov. 25, 1960).

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