NASHVILLE – The Titans are four practices into training camp, and after a break today, they’ll be back at it on Wednesday.
So it’s the perfect time to roll out a Titans mailbag, right?
Francisco Banda from Houston, Texas
Question: It is my understanding that the one thing that has remained constant throughout the years of injured legs is the practice field. A.J. Brown slipped on a route. It appears that the turf gives way. Has there been consideration from Titans management to replace said field?
Jim: With all due respect, Francisco, it’s not the fields. A.J. simply slipped. It looks like he didn’t set his base and his left foot slipped out from underneath him. The fields at Saint Thomas Sports Park are regularly re-sodded, and the team switches between the three fields in camp and during the season based on the wear and tear. They’re in great shape.
Bryce Brown from Lewisburg, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim! I went to the Saturday practice and Henry wasn’t there but Alex Barnes looked really good! Do you think he would be a good 3rd RB? Also with all of the good young receivers we have Taylor, Sharpe, Batson, Jennings, Ratliff-Williams and Hollister which ones do you think will get the cut? Thanks and TitanUp
Jim: Hey Bryce. Barnes had another good day on Monday. But running back Jeremy McNichols is making the most of his chances, too. Both backs had nice runs on Monday, and they’re getting extra work with Derrick Henry sidelined. At receiver, a lot of guys are looking good. Of the group you mentioned Taylor, Sharpe and Batson have stood out to me, and the others have flashed, including Ratliff-Williams. Another unheralded guy, Kalif Raymond, has made a lot of plays as well. I’m thinking six make it. I can get to five in a hurry -- Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe and A.J. Brown.
Steven Crosio from Brick, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim, Now That Taylor Lewan's Suspended What Do You Think The Titans' Plan B Will Be?
Jim: So far in camp it’s been Dennis Kelly at left tackle and Jack Conklin at right.
Jalone Rothchild fro Knoxville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim, I have to say that the wider numbers on the light blue practice jerseys already look much better and are much easier to see!
I know last year during practice the defense wore the navy jerseys. Does the defense wearing light blue jerseys in practice this year indicate the team might wear the light blue jerseys more often this year? Also if a fan bought a light blue jersey last year with the thinner numbers, would the Titans pro shop make some sort of exchange/credit so the fans jersey would be the same?
Jim: I agree – the wider numbers look better. And yes, I expect to see them a lot more in 2019.
David Stalder from Albuquerque, New Mexico
Question: Hey Jim. I imagine you're being inundated with Taylor Lewan backlash, was seriously tempted to unload myself, but there's no need, is there? I would rather ask a far more enjoyable question about Harold Landry. I've been excited about this guy from the moment we drafted him, but for some reason had never seen any of his interviews. Until now. Aside from the obvious fact that, like Derrick Henry, he would much rather be on the field than in front of a microphone, I was struck by how competent, driven, and focused he is. Not that your average NFL player isn't, only that it's easy to see Landry is not your average NFL player, and special players, especially at highly-valued but difficult positions like edge rusher, tend to explode in year two once everything has slowed down for them. A few NFL pundits have already said as much. My question is, why is it so hard to find one of his jerseys, you know, the good ones, with the stitching and the patches?
Jim: Another jersey question. Well, I do think Landry is going to emerge in Year 2. And I think when he does, they’ll be much easier to find.
João Gabriel Schutze from Campinas - Brazil
Question: Oi Jim! How are you? Well, I have to say I really enjoy your work. You cover the Titans but you have your own opinion, you don't answer using "official replies". I mean, you work in an independent way. Here in Brazil it's really really rare.
I have a silly question: Do you think we're practicing to play in our own style or are we going to focus on our opponents? For example, against the horseshoe team, what do you think? Let's play what we practiced or are we going to play on their weakness?
Take care and let me know when you spend some vacation here!
Jim: Good to hear from you Joao. Not a silly question, but it’s an easy answer. The team is practicing to play its own style, but I think how the team executes the game plan will be different each week based on the opponent. Some weeks on offense the team will give a healthy dose of Derrick Henry, while other weeks it’s going to have to throw it around the yard. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has proven he knows how to adapt as well. What the team is working on during camp is perfecting its own brand and getting ready for the season opener in Cleveland. And man would I love to go to Brazil!
Jacob McCluskey from Huntsville, Alabama
Question: I hope all is going well Jim! It's been a while since I have last sent in a question, but my question to you today is in regards to the undrafted rookies. I know it may be too early to tell, but is there any given undrafted rookie that has impressed you so far in camp/practices? Undrafted rookies tend to be ignored sometimes, but they can also play a very huge role on any team. I am interested to hear about any undrafted rookie that has impressed you so far. It looks like there may be a handful that could have potential to make the final 53 man roster. Also, what are you thoughts on Cameron Batson? He was an undrafted rookie last year who was able to stick on the roster for parts of last season. I know coach Vrabel pointed out Cam as an individual who had a very good offseason. I am a fan of Cam's and think he can be a contributor as a receiver and as a punt returner. He may lack size but he has good agility and very elusive speed. There's a lot of good things going on in Nashville, and I am super excited for August 8!!! TITANUP!!
Jim: It’s hard to say right now because it’s so early. But a few who’ve caught my eye: Cornerback D’Andre Payne, safety LaDarius Wiley, running back Alex Barnes, tight end Parker Hesse and linebacker Derick Roberson. Chattanooga’s Isaiah Mack and Joseph Parker have been active in practices as well. It's going to be tough to stick on the 53, so some are fighting for practice squad spots.
As for Batson, I’m a big fan. And clearly coaches are, too – he was one of the team’s top performers this offseason. At this point, I’m thinking he has a great chance to make the team again. I’m just wondering whose spot he takes. I think right now it's a battle between Darius Jennings and Batson for the sixth spot, but anything can happen between now and the cut from 90 to 53.
Stuart Scott from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. I have followed you from the Tennessean times to the present . I enjoy your perspective and what I would call a southern gentleman‘s approach to the Titans and their fans. Thank you for that. I write about the Taylor Lewan situation. I think it is a shame. I realize half the fans will feel one way and half the other, but I believe him. In any event, I think this highlights a problem for the entire NFL. It is unfair for players to take performance-enhancing drugs and thereby cheat. It is also unfair for players, teams and their fans to be punished because some drug company puts something in a supplement and doesn’t tell the consumers about it nor list it on its ingredients list on the bottle without repercussions to it because they are not FDA regulated. A reasonable solution could be the NFL posting a list of acceptable drug supplements for players and having the companies send these supplements directly to the NFL which could batch test them. The NFL could then release the supplements to the players who want them. All the players should be taking supplements from the same batches. The players could know they are safe if they take supplements provided to them by the NFL. If there turns out to be a bad batch, everyone would test positive and the NFL would know this and not inappropriately punished the players, teams and fans. Meanwhile the players could safely take supplements without inappropriate and expensive repercussions to them, their fans and teams.
Jim: Hi Stuart. I appreciate the comments, and for taking the time. This is an interesting argument, but I've already heard from one reader who disagrees because of liability issues. He didn't list his location, but has a nice counter. Let's end this mailbag by hearing both sides.
Al Stu from Forest Grove, Oregon
Question: Having the NFL manage supplements as one of your readers suggested is unworkable and fraught liability issues. Not a good argument at all. A 4 game suspension may seem heavy handed for a first time offense in which the player didn’t know (honest mistake, or was it?). But consider this: If first time offenses and ignorance is treated differently then there will be a lot more of those. Supplements that contain banned substances but don’t list them will be the out of choice by players. Take the supplement and also a little something more and then claim ignorance and first time. No. The NFL has it right. It is the players responsibility to determine and know what they are consuming. The NFL could perhaps check it for them upon request. Or maybe have a contract with a lab for players to have supplements checked for certain NFL banned substances. Or maybe even better would be for the players to band together and only buy supplements that guarantee no NFL banned ingredients. Oh, you want our business? Then guarantee no NFL banned ingredients. The supplement companies could also use that as a sales and marketing pitch. But the bottom line is: Players, know what you are consuming.
Jim: By now, I've heard all sides of this one …
Have a great week everyone!