Sunday's Training Camp Observations

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans were back on the field on Sunday for the fourth day of training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Here’s a look at what stood out:

  • Another practice, another big play by cornerback Malcolm Butler at the jump. Butler has made plays early to set a tone for the sessions, and he did it again on Sunday when he picked off quarterback Marcus Mariota on the first play in 1-on-1 drills. Sure, Butler has given up some plays in camp. But in my mind, he’s been the most noticeable guy the first four days into camp.
  • Mariota made some nice throws on the day, starting with a deep ball to receiver Michael Campanaro, who got behind cornerback Logan Ryan. Campanaro, a workhorse early in the offseason before an injury, has been making plays again early in camp. I thought Mariota closed practice well.
  • Speaking of making plays, receiver Darius Jennings has really stood out to me so far. He’s been a reliable target across the middle, and downfield on deep throws. He made a beautiful diving catch from Mariota on Sunday, and the quarterback came up to him afterward and patted him on the chest. Jennings is being rewarded for his work. He got a lot more first-team reps on Sunday as Corey Davis was held out of action, and he made the most of it. I scribbled his name down with my pencil probably a half-dozen times.
  • Tackles Taylor Lewan and Dennis Kelly looked like brick walls while working against edge rushers Harold Landry and Derrick Morgan, respectively, in early drills.   
  • I feel like I should use the copy/paste keys on linebacker Jayon Brown, because it seems like I’m typing his name in this space every day. Brown made a beautiful, athletic play when breaking up a pass to running back Dion Lewis early, and he showed up throughout practice.
  • Taywan Taylor showed off his speed when getting behind cornerback LeShaun Sims on a deep ball. Taylor has put in a lot of good work in camp.
  • Receiver Tajae Sharpe has been getting himself noticed as well. He made a nice grab across the middle, and coach Mike Vrabel paid him a nice compliment after practice.
  • Cornerback Tye Smith broke up a deep pass intended for Nick Williams, knocking the ball down just in time.
  • On the first play of team drills, Mariota threw deep to tight end Delanie Walker, and linebacker Will Compton knocked the ball away. Walker called for a defensive pass interference call, and in a game I think we would’ve seen some laundry on the field.
  • Running back Derrick Henry had a lot of success running right up the middle. He took a handoff in team drills and busted into the secondary. Lewis turned in some nice runs himself on Sunday.
  • The pads were popping in this one, and some players were shaken up at times. Linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Nate Palmer both left – but later returned. Palmer banged helmets with running back Dalyn Dawkins on a run play, and Palmer’s helmet went flying. I wondered if he’d come back, but he did. A little later, defensive lineman Claude Pelon needed help getting to the sideline because of an injury.
  • Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson made a nice play when the Titans tried to connect with Taylor downfield later in practice. But a few plays later, Mariota did a nice job finding Taylor open on the sideline. Taylor made several nice catches on the day.
  • Receiver Jordan Veasy continues to flash, but not as often as he did on offseason work. Veasy made a nice diving catch on a ball thrown by Mariota, and I still like the looks of him.
  • During the offseason, I didn’t notice receiver Deontay Burnett a whole bunch in practices. But he’s now standing out in training camp, and he caught a deep ball when he got behind Sims. Later, Mariota found him streaking across the middle of the field.
  • Rookie safety Dane Cruikshank looks impressive in pads, and he’s not afraid to use them. He’s gotten my attention by sticking his nose in the pile in run support, and he had a nice break-up downfield on a pass intended for tight end Anthony Firkser.
  • Tight end Tim Semisch let a catchable ball elude his grasp.
  • Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey wasn’t messing around when the Titans shifted back to a team period. He blew up a play in the middle, causing Mariota to throw the ball away.
  • Compton is getting a load of snaps as first-team inside linebacker alongside Woodyard, and he stopped Henry in the hole. Compton is another guy who doesn’t shy away from contact.
  • Mariota shows off his wheels at least once a practice, and he did it again on Sunday. Some of the runs aren’t by design. He’s being forced to tuck it and run because of solid coverage by the secondary, and a quick pass rush on some plays. Mariota has looked fast.
  • Quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw strikes to receivers Brandon Shippen and Williams on back-to-back plays. I’ve mentioned it before and I’m sure I’ll mention it again: Gabbert has a nice arm.
  • Safety Kendrick Lewis nearly picked off a pass that was deflected. The football hit the ground as Lewis was diving to get his hands underneath it.
  • Linebacker Brian Orakpo missed practiced, and Vrabel said he could be back in another week or so. Vrabel said Orakpo bumped shoulders on Day 2 of camp.
  • Receiver Corey Davis did not practice, but it sounds like it was just a day off after a lot of reps the first three days of camp. Receiver Rishard Matthews has missed the first four practices of camp.
  • Linebacker Rashaan Evans did not practice, and Vrabel didn’t have an update on his condition. Evans left practice early on Saturday and did not return.
  • Walker, held out of practice on Saturday, returned to action.
  • Former Titans offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson, also a former scout with the team, attended practice.

Next practice: Monday, 9:50 a.m.-noon.

The Titans take the field for Day 4 of training camp on Sunday, July 29, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones, Gary Glenn)

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