NASHVILLE – The newest Titans were on the field on Saturday for the second day of the team’s rookie minicamp.
Some observations from today’s session:
Most Impressive Rookie
Receiver A.J. Brown, the team’s second-round pick out of Ole Miss, sure looks the part.
Brown’s a big man, listed at 6-1, 226 pounds. He caught the ball with ease, and regularly looked to try and be the first receiver in line in individual drills.
He even pulled in a one-handed grab, but promised he wasn’t trying to show off.
“I just try to catch everything,” Brown said. “It was a little out of reach, and I stuck a hand up and surprisingly it stuck. I am not Odell (Beckham) or nothing like that.
“Right now, I just really want to show I am a hard worker, and I want to be a part of the team. I am just going to come out here and work my tail off.”
Brown was also the last rookie to leave, working on drills after the rest of the rookies headed to the locker room.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel noted he’s already noticed Brown spending extra time with quarterback Logan Woodside, one of two quarterbacks who took part in the rookie camp.
“Those are good problems to have,” Vrabel said of Brown’s work ethic. “All players have to do something that make them feel like they are ready to go. … I am sure A.J. has developed that because he was a productive receiver throughout his career at Ole Miss.”
The Plan for Simmons
First-round pick Jeffery Simmons, who is recovering from an ACL injury, did not take part in the on-field work in the rookie minicamp.
Instead, he spent time inside working on his rehab.
Simmons did come out late, however, and spent some time chatting with Bob Shoop, his defensive coordinator at Mississippi State who attended practice.
“He can’t do much on the field,” Vrabel said of Simmons, “but he’s doing a lot of rehab and he’s lifting and he’s engaged in the meetings. When he’s ready, we’ll get him out there.”
Vrabel said the team’s trainers are getting a better idea of where Simmons is from an injury standpoint.
“Whenever he is ready we’ll get him out there,” Vrabel said, “and we just have to make sure that mentally and physically he’s ready to go.”
Vrabel arrived at the podium with a small gash at the bridge of his nose, and it looked like a fresh wound base on the smeared blood.
Earlier, Vrabel had been in the field working with the rookies in drills, something he regularly does.
“It’s the price of doing business,” Vrabel explained. “If I’m going to stick my nose in there, sometimes it gets busted up.”
Vrabel said he didn’t know the culprit.
“I don’t remember,” he said. “They’re all just random guys out there trying to knock me around.”
D'Andre Walker vs. Vrabel
Outside linebacker D’Andre Walker, the team’s fifth-round pick out of Georgia, spent some extra time with Vrabel.
Walker said the hands-on approach will be helpful.
“He played my position, and he was a great player,” Walker said of Vrabel. “And eventually, hopefully, I’ll become a great player as well.”
Walker said Vrabel gave him some pointers on his technique. Vrabel said Walker has done a really nice job in the meetings.
Arthur Smith's Approach
Arthur Smith was promoted to offensive coordinator earlier this offseason, and Saturday was the first time reporters had a chance to see him in action.
“He’s awesome,” third-round pick Nate Davis said of Smith. “He just believes in us, is always trying to coach us, always trying to make us better. He’s a stand-up guy.”
Smith bounced from one of position group to the next during Saturday’s session.
Smith, the team's tight ends coach last season, worked previously with the veterans in Phase 2.
“I think this just provides a little more competitive atmosphere because there’s seven guys on the other side who are playing defense,” Vrabel said.
Rookie linebacker David Long Jr., the team’s sixth-round pick out of West Virginia, showed some personality when he arrived at the podium, pretending like he might sing.
“I’d probably get up here and sing some Alicia Keys,” Long said with a smile. “Ya’ll will have to catch me another day, though.”
Long looked very comfortable on the field as well. He showed nice instincts, and he got my attention right out of the gate by making a few plays.
“I want to show I am a player that’s going to do whatever I need to do to help the team,” Long said. “I want to be the best player I can be on the field.”
Stance work, and Settling In
Big offensive guard Nate Davis is just that – big.
Davis, who is expected to compete for a starting position at one of the guard, moved pretty well for a big man.
“So far, so good,” Davis said of the minicamp experience. “It’s been a good time so far.”
His focus out of the gate is to work on his stance, and that work is already under way. Davis wore a towel on his belt in college at Charlotte, and he got so low in his stance it sometimes hit the ground.
Vrabel said when the Titans worked Davis out, he demonstrated he had fixed his stance.
Davis acknowledged it’s a work in progress while explaining why it’s key.
“The downside of (playing too low) is when I get down in my stance I kind of raise up and then go and that kind of loses too much time,” Davis said. “Obviously you can’t do that when you have guys like Aaron Donald across from you – you have to be as explosive as possible. Being able to fix that just helps out my game.”
Taste of Coombs
Safety Amani Hooker is a sturdy guy himself, and he looked sure of himself on his first weekend on the job.
Hooker, selected in the fourth-round out of Iowa, communicated well with his teammates while working alongside the rookies.
He also had secondary coach Kerry Coombs, a pretty outspoken guy, communicate with him as well.
“He’s a great coach, and he’s enthusiastic,” Hooker said of Coombs. “He’s going to get in you if you mess up, but if you make a right play he’s going to congratulate you.”
-It was nice to see former MTSU quarterback Brent Stockstill throw the ball around after an exceptional collegiate career. Stockstill is taking part in the camp on a tryout basis, and Vrabel paid him a nice compliment for his preparation after practice.
-I kept a close eye on outside linebacker Derick Roberson, an undrafted free agent out of Sam Houston State. Roberson was very productive in college, and he’s a good-looking prospect. I need to see more before forming a strong opinion on his chances.
-Over 30 players took part in the minicamp on a tryout basis, including cornerback LaDarius Wiley and linebacker Josh Smith of Vanderbilt and linebacker Quart’e Sapp and nose tackle Alexis Johnson of Tennessee.
Titans rookies take part in the team's rookie minicamp Saturday at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)