Hot Topics from Titans Coach Mike Vrabel's Sunday Presser

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NASHVILLE — Titans head coach Mike Vrabel held a press conference via Zoom on Sunday, one day after the team's 34-3 win over the Buccaneers in preseason game No.2.

Next up for the Titans is the final preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Nissan Stadium on Saturday night.

Here's a look at some of the hot topics discussed at today's presser:

Vrabel Tests Positive for COVID-19

Vrabel's press conference was initially scheduled to be held in person at Saint Thomas Sports Park, but this morning it was moved to a video conference call.

At the beginning of the call, Vrabel revealed why: He's tested positive for COVID-19.

Vrabel said he woke up this morning with a sore throat and a little bit of an earache, so he went and got tested at the facility, where he remained in his car until the results were in. Vrabel said he took a second test, which was also positive.

"As of now, I'll be in quarantine, following the protocols, and trying to do my best to help the football team while I am (home)," Vrabel said. "I am very confident in our football team, our coaching staff, our organization, that no matter what the situation is, we'll handle it."

Vrabel, who is vaccinated, will need two negative tests within a 48-hour period to be able to return to the facility, or he'll have to remain away from the facility for 10 days. As of now, Vrabel said, "I don't think that anybody (else) that has been tested this morning has tested positive."

Vrabel said he has a lot of trust in special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman when asked who might run things in his absence, and he noted the team has a pair of former head coaches in Jim Haslett and Jim Schwartz on his staff. He said he'll be involved in the Zoom squad meetings.

"We'll figure this thing out, but the health of everyone involved is most important," Vrabel said. "Right now, I am going to work through a lot of those things – we don't go out to the practice field until tomorrow."

Vrabel made it clear he wants the focus to be on his football team, and not him, as he remains in quarantine, and away from his players and fellow coaches.

He was asked what it's going to be like being away.

"I am going to get a boat, and I am going to put the boat out there on the lake, (Lake) Amulet, and just float around and be able to yell," Vrabel said with a smile. "But I am sure the players, which I sent a text out to – unfortunately I couldn't tell them on Zoom – but I wanted to let them know before I came on here. I'm sure they'll enjoy the few days away from me.

"I'll miss it, but that football team is a part of my family, it's a part of my life, it's a part of my heart. So I'll miss them, and I'll be able to communicate with them via Zoom. And I'll just make "Stretch" (Coordinator of Football Development John Streicher) take the iPad around to each and every room so I can check in with them all."

More Starters?

The Titans have rested the majority of their starters during the first two preseason games.

Vrabel said he'd like to get some of the offensive starters into game action this week, but the plan hasn't been established yet.

"I think there is some merit to going out there and working a pregame routine, and getting ready to play in the game, whether that is for five or 15, however many snaps," Vrabel said. "I think there is some merit to that, just to get yourself mentally prepared."

Vrabel said the team will go back to a regular season schedule, with practices at noon, this week.

Molden Shines

It was an eye-opening debut for Titans rookie cornerback Elijah Molden on Saturday night.

Molden was credited with eight tackles, one sack, two tackles for a loss, one pass defensed, and one forced fumble. He also made a stop on a 4th and one play, and he was involved in several blitzes.

Vrabel said Molden looked like a natural as a blitzer.

"I think that was just a case of a young player getting out there, and getting into the flow of the game," Vrabel said of Molden. "Really, the more that he played, the better he got."

Ficken Impressing

With a perfect night against the Buccaneers, Titans kicker Sam Ficken is now 3-of-3 on field goals in games, 6-of-6 on PATs in games, and 48-of-53 in practices.

He was 16-of-18 in joint practices with the Buccaneers, and he hit a 48-yard kick and a 58-yard kick on Saturday night, with room to spare on the last one. The 58-yarder was the longest in Ficken's career at any level.

Vrabel said he's been impressed by Ficken's leg, and his confidence.

"I can't say that Sam has done anything to hurt himself," Vrabel said of Ficken, who was claimed by the Titans after being waived by the Jets earlier this month. "I think his leg has gotten even stronger since he's got here."

Strides for Fitzpatrick?

Rookie receiver Dez Fitzpatrick has had his share of struggles in camp.

Last week, Vrabel indicated the team needs to see more from him.

Against the Buccaneers, Fitzpatrick showed some signs of life on Saturday night, when he caught two passes for 30 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown thrown by quarterback Logan Woodside.

"We are just trying to get guys to improve, and in Dez's specific case, there has to be some more progress and more improvement," Vrabel said. "But I think last night was a step in the right direction."

Vrabel said Fitzpatrick was more physical as a blocker late in the game, "and obviously the touchdown pass that Logan was able to get to him was good as well."

What's Up With Julio?

Receiver Julio Jones hasn't played in the team's first two preseason games.

Jones did travel with the team to Tampa, however, and he went though a pregame workout with teammates. He was decked out in a Titans uniform for the first time.

When asked if Jones might practice this week, Vrabel responded: "In general, I don't know if he'll be out there this week."

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