NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans are scheduled to report for the start of the offseason program next Monday, and it will mark the first time the 2018 Titans come together as a team.
Even before then, Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, general manager Jon Robinson, and new head coach Mike Vrabel have liked some things they’ve seen from afar.
Coming off the franchise’s first playoff win in 14 years, team bonding has already started.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota spent part of last month in California working with his receivers, and members of the secondary have been training together at locations across Middle Tennessee. At Saint Thomas Sports Park, a group of players have been working out together on their own in recent months as well.
“It’s very encouraging,” Robinson said. “It shows a maturing football team. It shows we have guys who want to work with each other, who have fun working with each other from what I have been told, and are excited about the prospects of the upcoming season.”
This time last year, Mariota was recovering from a fibula injury that required surgery, and a long recovery process. Last month in California he worked with receivers Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, Taywan Taylor and tight end Jonnu Smith.
The group also spent time visiting with tight end Delanie Walker in California.
“I am loving that,” Strunk said. “The quarterbacks and the receivers, you’ve got to have chemistry. And last year with Corey being hurt, they weren’t able to work as much as they would have liked. So I am glad to see everybody out there and working hard. We are going to get them in here on April 9th, and our coaches are going to get them then.
“It is really going to be a great start for Marcus and those guys.”
Vrabel said he’s talked with Mariota “as much as the rules will permit” this offseason, and he’s been impressed.
Hearing about the group training together in March was a positive sign, he said.
“I think he is a great person,” Vrabel said of Mariota. “He has a great personality, and he cares about his teammates, from everything I have seen.
“He had those receivers out to California where he was training, and they visited with him, they worked, and by all accounts that was a positive experience for those guys and Marcus.”
In a group picture posted on social media by trainer Jason Spray, the former MTSU strength coach who has worked with the athletes, a big group of Titans were spotted – Johnathan Cyprien, Tye Smith, LeShaun Sims, Ryan and Byard. Titans safety Brynden Trawick has joined the group for regular sessions, and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson has made an appearance as well.
The players have said the work will prove to be beneficial when the offseason program gets cranked up.
The full offseason – and work - should help Mariota, Robinson said.
“I think he is finally going to feel healthy,” Robinson said of Mariota. “When you are in Week 10 or 11, you are not going to be 100 percent healthy, but if you are going into the start of a new season and you don’t have many bumps and bruises, which he won’t this season – he feels good – then we certainly hope it will propel him from an execution standpoint.”
Vrabel said from the NFL owners meetings he’s counting the days to the start of the offseason program.
It’s now less than a week away.
“It’s coaching football,” Vrabel said. “That’s why I do what I do. I don’t do it to hang out with other assistant coaches. I could do that and retire and go see other guys, and kind of hang out. But I enjoy trying to develop a player. After winning, and winning a championship, which clearly everyone wants to do at this level or any level, my No.1 reason for coaching is to try and make players better, because somebody made me better. Somebody improved me.”
TitansOnline.com looks back at QB Marcus Mariota's 2017 season. (AP Photos)