Camp Notebook: Pads Allow Titans More Accurate Assessment


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans wore shoulder pads for the first time Monday, and the increased contact allowed for more comprehensive assessments, players said.

Understandably, the positions with the most likely contact on each play — offensive and defensive line, fullback, tight end and linebacker — were in highest anticipation of putting on the pads. That will continue at 3:45 Tuesday when the team wears full pads for the first time in a practice that is free and open for the public to attend.

Players progressed through a series of drills Monday that included 1-on-1 matchups on pass routes and blocking schemes, 7-on-7 drills and finally 11-on-11.

"There was a lot of good work out there today on both sides," defensive end Kamerion Wimbley said. "Guys definitely want to see where they're at, and the only way you can truly gauge where you're at as far as coming into the season and being in shape and ready is by putting the pads on and going out there and banging a little bit, so I think it was great for us to be able to do that, and I think everybody has a good gauge of where we're at.

"To me, it's fun to be able to step up and compete with a guy 1-on-1," Wimbley said. "It's just you and him and may the best man win."

Fullback Quinn Johnson delivered a resounding thump when he ran a pass route over the middle during the 1-on-1 segment.

"Playing fullback, I don't really get to do or show what I can do until I get an opportunity to put the pads on, so I was excited to put the pads on," Johnson said. "I just couldn't wait to get that first lick in. That just happened to be it. You can pretty much be as physical as you want (when you have shoulder pads on).

There were a few exchanges where offensive and defensive players were still adjusting to the increased intensity and remained engaged after the play.

Titans coach Mike Munchak said he is fine with the players being intense, as long as it doesn't escalate into a situation where someone could get hurt or draw a 15-yard penalty in a game. Munchak added that players should continue to focus on technique.

"I think it's just a matter of bending our knees more, getting our pads down, a couple of things," Munchak said. "Usually, the defense is ahead of the offense on things like that, but it's hard to tell when you're watching. It's more like going back on tape and seeing some of those things.

"We did a lot of stuff out here," Munchak continued. "We're not game-planning each other; sometimes there will be some plays that don't look real pretty with the offense going against the defense and sometimes the offense will have an advantage. Those things are going to happen at times, and it's just more about the technique and the learning that you're paying attention to out there."

MOUTON MENDED: Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton turned in a solid practice that included an interception Monday. It was another step in the right direction for Mouton, a 2009 third-round draft pick, who suffered an Achilles injury in the first week of 2011 training camp and hasn't played in a football game since Nov. 21, 2010.

"It's a great feeling, Mouton said of the interception. "Your eyes get big and you're trying to make sure you make the play. It's been over a year since I've been in pads. I feel great. I stayed here all offseason, working with those guys in the training room, and they're doing their best to get me back here to feeling 100 percent and ready to go. I feel like I'm a better player, just for the fact that (new secondary coach Brett) Maxie has helped out as far as technique and learning how to play the position."

Mouton has played special teams, cornerback, nickel and dime in pass defense situations and has persevered through injuries. The Titans have made changes at head coach, defensive coordinator, secondary and assistant secondary coach positions since Mouton last took a snap in a game.

He appeared in 23 games in his first two seasons, including two starts in his rookie campaign, and said he just wants to be in consideration for helping the team any way possible.

"We're deep at corner right now, so there's competition out there," Mouton said. "The chemistry with those guys, we're all looking to help each other out. We're able to compete and push each other, and the best are going to be there. A guy goes out and makes a play, you're going to try to make a play the next time you're out."

Munchak said he's been impressed with what he's seen from Mouton so far in organized team activity practices and camp.

"He is a tough kid; last year we didn't get a chance to see him because of the injury right from the start," Munchak said. "He got drafted for a reason. I like his attitude, for special teams he is a guy that helps you there too. He is aggressive on the field, he takes chances, and so far so good. This is what you are hoping to see from the kid. You are happy for him because he came back. That is a long rehab. He got hurt the first week of training camp and he just got out here during OTAs, so you're happy that he gets a chance to show people what he can do."

QB PROGRESSION: Munchak said he is still impressed with the play of veteran Matt Hasselbeck and second-year pro Jake Locker as the two compete for the starting job. He said the team is continuing to add complexity as it prepares for a closed practice Saturday in which the Titans will simulate more game-like situations and a joint practice with the Atlanta Falcons next Monday in Dalton, Ga., that is open to fans of both teams.

"We are adding plays in a few more days, once you get to the weekend we will have everything in and practice is more interesting to watch for us," Munchak said. "Having a game-like practice on Saturday at the end of the week and with Monday in Atlanta, those are the things that will help us evaluate a lot of things."

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