NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kenny Vaccaro was thrown into the fire on Monday.
The new Titans safety lined up with the first team defense on the first snap, and he nearly recorded an interception of quarterback Marcus Mariota on a deep ball midway through practice.
It was part of a busy day.
“It was good, man,” Vaccaro said after practice. “I got my feet wet, (coach) Kerry (Coombs) was screaming at me, I was tired. I got cramped up. It was the usual six months off, working out by myself, not playing football. The usual things happened. But I felt like I’m in good shape, and I feel like I got a lot more reps for first day of training camp.
“I feel like I went every period, just like a regular practice. So it went good.”
The Titans signed Vaccaro over the weekend to take the place of Johnathan Cyprien, who suffered a torn ACL last week in practice.
On Saturday, Vaccaro was in uniform for the first time with his new team, but he didn’t take part in team drills. On Monday, that all changed. Vaccaro split first team reps with rookie Dane Cruikshank alongside Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard.
Secondary coach Kerry Coombs said there’s no time to waste as the Titans try and get Vaccaro ready.
“We are getting him up to speed,” Coombs said. “He’s done an awful lot of mental work the last couple of days. I am really impressed with him. I am impressed with him personally, I love his communication skills. More than anything is how he fits in the room and the unit because I think that chemistry is incredibly important. He has been great.
“… I think the (chemistry) has to develop almost instantly because we don’t have time to wait. We can’t wait until October until we decide we are going to be able to get along with one another, and be able to communicate with one another. So to me, that chemistry … is important.”
A first round pick (15th overall) by the Saints in the 2013 NFL Draft, Vaccaro has played in 68 career games, with 67 starts. In five seasons, he’s recorded 386 career tackles, with eight interceptions and 7.5 career sacks.
A 6-foot, 214-pounder, Vaccaro earned All-America honors as a senior at the University of Texas.
Titans safety Kevin Byard said he’s excited about working with Vaccaro.
He said he’s a great player “and I believe he will help us out a lot.”
“He’s a vet, and he knows how to prepare,” Byard said of Vaccaro. “And I know he’s a big hitter. I know he plays hard, and that is something that we need. With Cyp being out, I think he’s a perfect replacement.”