NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sleep, rebound, wrap up the practice week, see a few sights, and get ready to play football.
The Titans lift off for London on Thursday afternoon, and will arrive in the United Kingdom early Friday morning. Roughly 56 hours later, they’ll face the Los Angeles Chargers at Wembley Stadium.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said. “We want to go over there and show out, and show the UK folks that we have some good class and good football inside us.”
The Titans have one mission across the pond.
“The No.1 thing is this is a business trip,” safety Kevin Byard said. “It is not a vacation, and it’s not a situation where we’re all looking to go sightseeing and things like that. The main thing is we want to beat the L.A. Chargers.
“Being able to go to a beautiful city like that, and be able to play in front of so many amazing fans, it will be great. It will be my first time in London, so I am excited, and the team is excited. It will be cool to be there, check a few things out in the city. I’m going to try some Fish & Chips. But the big thing is to lock in and get a W.”
The Titans practiced in Nashville on Wednesday, and they’ll wrap up Thursday’s practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park around 12:45 p.m. on Thursday. The team is scheduled to depart for the Nashville airport in buses at 2 p.m., and the flight is scheduled to leave Nashville around 4:30 p.m. today.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel has stressed to the players the importance of sleeping on the plane. The Titans are scheduled to arrive in London at 6:30 a.m. BST, which is 12:30 a.m. in Nashville.
After a bus ride to the team hotel on Friday morning, the team is scheduled to have breakfast, before a walk-through at 9:45 a.m. After a round of meetings, the team will practice at 1:30 p.m. on a lawn adjacent to the team's hotel.
“Well, I think we get over there and (we'll) try to stay up,” Vrabel said. “Stay up from the time that we land. We land at 6:30, and we’re going to go through customs, we’ll get to the hotel, have breakfast. We’ve set up a little weight room, we’ll try to lift, we’re going to walk through the countryside or whatever the hotel area is, just to try to get our legs going a little bit. Grab a cup of coffee and then go into our meetings at 10:30 and see if we can plow through until seven, or eight, or nine o’clock.
“We’ve got curfew at midnight, but I don’t think there will be too many people hanging around at midnight still up. We’ll see.”
Titans linebacker Will Compton made the trip a few years ago with the Redskins. Safety Kenny Vaccaro made the trip to London last year with the Saints.
Both said their head coach is right – be prepared to sleep, and be prepared to battle tiredness.
“The biggest day is the first 24 hours when you land,” Compton said. “And you have to embrace the suck, embrace the grind, and bring fake enthusiasm if you have to Day 1. You’re jet-lagged, you’re tired, and you haven’t had sleep.
“But you have to fight through it, in practices and in meetings.”
The Titans will have time Friday evening to see the city, although the outing is optional.
On Saturday, the team has more meetings scheduled, a walk-through, and some more time later in the day before another round of meetings at night.
Kickoff at Wembley Stadium is 2:30 BST -- 8:30 a.m. CDT in Nashville.
“It’s a different crowd at the game, because you’re going to see jerseys from the star players from the NFL,” Vaccaro said. “You’ll see Tom Brady jerseys, Aaron Rodgers jersey. It’s a non-biased crowd. They are cheering, and they are looking for big plays from the offense, defense, they don’t really care.”
The Titans hope to give fans plenty to cheer about before returning to Nashville, where the team is expected back at 2:30 am Monday.
Right now, London is calling.
“It’s pretty incredible being at the stadium,” Compton said. “You feel the history, and it’s very big. You feel like you are in something very special.
“And you want to go over there and win. It’s a long trip, and when I was there our game ended in a tie (27-27 vs. the Bengals). All the way over there, and you end in a tie. What you want to do is go over there and win, and be able to enjoy the trip back.”
Titans players depart Saint Thomas Sports Park to Nashville International Airport for an eight-hour flight to London. (Photos: Gary Glenn)