NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Coach Ken Whisenhunt and 2014 first-round pick Taylor Lewan on Tuesday fielded questions via phone calls and through the internet during a Titans Fan Forum that was streamed live on Titans Online.
Whisenhunt was able to explain Tennessee's progression through its offseason program.
The Titans are in the final week of Phase II which allows individual position group drills but no team sessions and will advance to a maximum of 10 organized team activity practices in the next three weeks before a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 17-19. Rookies participated in a minicamp this past weekend and began working with veterans for the first time this week.
"It's been good," Whisenhunt said. "Our guys have worked hard and I know they're excited about OTAs starting next week, but I know most of all, they're excited about our fan support. You can feel it in the community. We appreciate your support and are really looking forward to having some success at LP Field on Sundays."
Whisenhunt was able to connect with fans last week at three stops on the Academy Sports + Outdoors Titans Caravan and has made other public appearances since his hiring. Lewan, a tackle who was selected with the 11th overall pick on May 8, said he's enjoyed the limited time he's had to explore his new home.
"The fans are unbelievable," Lewan said. "I haven't had too many opportunities to see the city too much, but every time I have, I've been out with a couple of the guys and all the fans come up and say, 'Hello.' I love everything about it, the support I have from everybody here and I'm really excited to play some Tennessee Titan football."
Titans fans from the Nashville area and beyond (even Pennsylvania, Washington and California) submitted questions to "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith.
A common theme for questions to Lewan involved his adjustment from his career as a four-year starter at Michigan to life in the NFL.
"I think the biggest thing is getting acclimated with everything," Lewan said. "I've already fallen in love with this city and had a big-time crash course on all these plays and had to learn the whole playbook essentially in the rookie minicamp this past weekend, but as far as my situation goes, I've got two great offensive tackles in front of me right now in Michael Oher and Michael Roos. They're studs, they know what they're doing. My job is to learn and compete and hopefully win a starting job and hopefully amplify their game as well by putting a lot of competition out there.
The Titans selected Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan with the 11th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Lewan admitted he was a "little nervous" when the rookies took the field for the first time with the veterans, but he said the experienced players "kind of embraced me and embraced the whole rookie class so I'm excited to kind of get going into OTAs and really compete."
Whisenhunt was asked how much he expects Lewan will play this season.
"That's a good question, and the honest answer to that is it's going to be really up to him and how he handles it," Whisenhunt said. "I think if you go in with the idea that you're going to play your best players, if he performs more consistently and he works, then he's going to play, but my experience in the NFL, and I've been in it for a little while, is that we're going to need all of these guys. … I can't say what percentage we anticipate, but Taylor will play for us in some capacity this year and I'm excited about that because I think he's a talented young man."
Other questions wanted to learn more about Whisenhunt's plans for running backs Bishop Sankey, Tennessee's second-round draft pick, and Dexter McCluster, who joined the Titans via free agency in March. Whisenhunt, who was San Diego's offensive coordinator in 2013, has plans for both backs.
"We're going to use (Bishop) in a lot of different facets of our game. I think he has some of the skills that you can see as a potential third-down sub-type back," Whisenhunt said. "He's good in protection, he's got very good hands, he can get out and win one-on-one against coverage, which linebackers and potentially a safety if they're in their sub defense and they have a safety playing down and trying to cover him, which is an exciting part of it, but I think one of the things you really like about him is some of the things you've seen him do first and second down, running the football, as what people would say, a normal running back: good vision, good inside-outside runner, has good speed, runs powerfully and he hasn't been injured. He's been very durable."
As for McCluster, who has experience at running back, receiver and as a return specialist, Whisenhunt said McCluster will allow coaches to implement his quick feet in specific situations.
"We're going to find a role for him, whether that's a third-down back at times, whether it's a sub running back at times, and when I say sub running back, I mean when we go to our three wide receiver package and expect the defense to matchup, so he has talent to do that," Whisenhunt said. "I think you can have the dual capability of moving him around and trying to create matchup problems for your opponent, much like what we did with Danny Woodhead last year in San Diego, I feel very comfortable about Dexter having a similar-type role in addition to his return duties, so we feel like he's going to be a big piece of this offensively." Tennessee is scheduled to have its first OTA practice May 27.