NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We’re into June, and drawing closer to the end of the offseason program for the Titans.
The team wraps up OTAs on June 7, and will hold a mandatory three-day minicamp the following week at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Training camp will kick off at the end of July.
Right now, let’s kick off another mailbag.
Chris Smith from South Pasadena, California
Question: Hope you’re doing well. I’m a loyal reader to the mailbag each Saturday. My question is in regards to Kalan Reed. I know we upgraded the position with Malcolm Butler, and have good depth in LeShaun Sims and Tye Smith, but have you heard any reports on the new coaching staff’s opinion of Reed? I recall Pro Football Focus had him as their highest rated CB in the 2017 preseason.
Lastly, as a fan of Aloha shirts myself, I wanted to pass along the website to some of the best Aloha Shirts around; Rix island wear.
Jim: Hey Chris. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the tip on the Hawaiian shirts! Kalan has improved, and he did have a great preseason last year. He’s valuable because of his versatility. He’s played corner, but I think he’s also capable of playing some other spots in the secondary. During his rookie year, he even lined up at receiver on the scout team. The problem he’s facing now is the improved depth at corner, and the competition that goes with it. You mentioned Butler, Smith and Sims, and as you know there’s also Logan Ryan and Adoree’ Jackson. So that’s five. Undrafted rookie Joseph Este has impressed early. So Kalan is going to need to perform well during the offseason and in camp to give himself a chance. I think he’s looked good so far, but he’s battling behind some others.
Terry Tankard from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Will the Titans management penalize players who kneel during the national anthem? I truly hope not. These men have the right to protest injustice in our country and it does not show disrespect for the flag or our military. On the contrary, the flag and military stand for the right to peaceful expressions of protest. Does the NFL plan to close concessions during the anthem so that everyone in the stadium stand at attention???
Jim: Hey Terry. Thanks for the question on a sensitive topic. I’m sure you’ve seen the NFL’s policy, and it’s where the Titans ended up last season in regards to how things were handled from a team standpoint. The Titans have never had a player kneel during the anthem, so that hasn’t been an issue. But I appreciate you sharing your perspective.
Rick W from Honolulu, Hawaii
Question: Aloha Jim. It appears that JRob did a great job in getting some quality UDFA’s this year. If you had to rank each of the UDFA’s based on who will make the 53 Active Roster, and who will make the Practice Squad, what would that look like? Of course, this would be just a wild guess. Mahalo, Rick
Jim: Aloha Rick. It’s hard for me to rank them at this point. When the pads come on, and I can get a better feel for these guys early in training camp, I might consider doing it. But I’ll tell you which guys intrigue me most from the undrafted group: Iowa running back Akrum Wadley, USC receiver Deontay Burnett and Temple outside linebacker Sharif Finch. Tennessee-Martin Joseph Este was among those who made the 90-man roster after a tryout, and he has a great story. But he’s at a position with tons of competition, so he’s going to have to really impress. From OTAs, receivers Devin Ross (Colorado) and Jordan Veasy (Cal) have flashed early as well. Some other guys could emerge in time, of course, but I’d say all those guys are among the contenders to stick in some capacity.
Larry Nakasone from Aiea, Hawaii
Question: Aloha, Jim. Last season I remember reading that Marcus Mariota had some lingering issues with his leg and may need some clean up procedure during the off season. Haven't heard anything since. Can you shed some light on this topic? Mahalo!
Jim: Back to back from Hawaii! Mahalo Larry. I remember the report you’re referring to, because it got some attention in December. But it was softened by “could require” a clean-up procedure. Well, Mariota never had a clean-up procedure. And he’s looked good running around this offseason.
Paul Richards from Pontiac, Michigan
Question: Is it just me or when you listen to "Hallelujah" by George Frideric Handel but instead put in "Mariota" it still sounds perfect? Asking for a friend
Jim: Now that’s old school! Just listened. It’s a stretch, but I get where you’re coming from. :)
Bill from Spokane, Washington
Question: Mr. Wyatt, Because Marcus Mariota has never survived a complete NFL season, I'm very interested in QBs Gabbert and Falk. Falk's career at Washington State featured some very quick and heady on-field decision making. Gabbert's seven years in the league have been largely disappointing, particularly for a first-round draft choice. Does your crystal ball foresee the Titans keeping 3 QBs on the roster? Is there a chance that Falk might jump to the number 2 spot? I know it's ridiculously early in the season and in Falk's career, but I would appreciate your informed guess. Thanks!
Jim: Hey Bill. Fair question, although Mariota has pretty much been available most his career. I understand he missed the final game of 2016 with the fractured fibula, and one game last year with the hamstring, but fortunately he’s been ready to go for 32 of 34 the last two seasons. As far as the back-up competition goes, Gabbert has a big edge because of his experience. And seeing him up close, he has a strong arm. I’d be very surprised to see Falk jump him for the No.2 spot. And while it’s tough keeping three QBs on the 53-man roster, at this point I’d say there’s a pretty good chance of that happening. He’s going to need time to develop, and I expect he’ll be given a decent window. I guess there’s always a chance the team could try and develop him on the practice squad, but it would be risky to try and get him through waivers. Of course all this is subject to change based on competition in training camp and the preseason. It’s still early.
Jon Kerlikowske from Franklin, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim, hope you are enjoying OTAs. Surprised to see Kevin Dodd has not been participating in OTAs. Does he have an injury? This is his time to show the new coaching staff his value and commitment to the team. I hope he can contribute this season.
Jim: Hey Jon. Dodd has been a big subject of conversation. Mike Vrabel’s response when asked about him has gone like this: We’re coaching the guys who are here. Keep in mind, right now the offseason work is voluntary. I can’t tell you why he has not been present for the open OTAs. I can tell you the guys here have been getting better, and there’s competition at outside backer. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are front-line starters, and Harold Landry was drafted to make an impact. Aaron Wallace is a versatile backer who can rush the passer, and I think he’s No.4 at outside backer right now. Josh Carraway has been here and is improving, and I mentioned Finch earlier. Gimel President wasn’t claimed off waivers to stand around. He’s competing, too. That’s a lot of guys. Dodd brings a little something extra because he’s capable of playing with his hand in the dirt, on the line. Would he benefit from being here, and being coached? Without a doubt. It would help his chances of making the team and contributing. One thing’s for sure: When he’s on the field, he’s going to have to earn his spot on the team.
Have a great weekend everyone!
The Titans take the field for Wednesday's organized team activities (OTA) at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones, Nate Bain)