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Hot Topics From Titans HC Mike Vrabel at the NFL Owners Meetings


PALM BEACH, Fla. – Titans head coach Mike Vrabel met with reporters on Monday morning here at the NFL owners meetings.

Vrabel, speaking from a ballroom at The Breakers Resort, tackled a number of topics.

Here's a look at the highlights:

-Vrabel, on the league's competition committee, made an interesting proposal to the overtime rule. The Titans proposed allowing both teams an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime unless the team with the first possession scores a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion try.

"I was, unfortunately like a lot of other teams, watching that Buffalo-Kansas City (playoff) game as a fan, and saw the ending and felt like maybe our fans would have wanted to see (Bills QB) Josh Allen have an opportunity," Vrabel said. "I felt like … if you wanted to win the football game, you had to validate it with a two-point conversion and if you didn't, and you kicked the extra point, the other team would have the opportunity to have the football.

"I don't know what the support is, but I just felt like it was an idea. I brought it up, we turned it in … and I'm sure it will get discussed. It's not going to hurt my feelings either way, I am just trying to do what is best for the game."

-Vrabel is excited about what receiver Robert Woods, formerly with the Rams, can bring to the team.

"Everywhere he has been, he has been a great teammate first and foremost," Vrabel said of Woods, who was acquired in a trade. "He cares about the football team, and he is versatile – plays outside and inside, blocks, has route craft, has good play strength. Everywhere you follow him he has been a great teammate and guys rave about him. We are excited to help him rehab and get him back healthy."

-Vrabel said he's hopeful the team can take advantage of tight end Austin Hooper's versatility as a pass catcher and blocker.

"Hopefully he can do both," Vrabel said of Hooper, formerly with the Falcons and Browns. "We are just looking for guys who can play on the line of scrimmage, play off the ball, be able to get open. He has played on third down, and he has really done a lot of that in his career. … He has shown that he can do a lot."

-Vrabel goes way back with offensive lineman Jamarco Jones, who was signed earlier this offseason after playing previously with the Seahawks.

Vrabel, in fact, recruited Jones to Ohio State before he eventually left for the NFL. On Monday, he also revealed what he has planned for him in Tennessee.

"I have known Jamarco since he was 16 years old in Chicago, and would go into De La Salle High School on the south side of Chicago and watch him play basketball and practice in the morning," Vrabel recalled. "I had a great relationship with his mom, Urica. He ended up choosing Ohio State, and I left to go to Houston shortly thereafter.

"This is a player we feel his best football is in front of him. We've been able to evaluate him against some very good opponents. This year he played left guard against the Saints, and we're hoping he can start there and compete at left guard. But he has versatility as well, and has played all across the line."

-Vrabel said the team plans to host joint practices against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals this year in training camp.

Dates and times have not been determined.

"As of now, I think we anticipate practicing against Tampa and also bringing in Arizona on that third week (of the preseason) as well," Vrabel said. "Both of those are at home. We are on the road the first week (of the preseason)."

The Titans had joint practices with the Buccaneers last year in Tampa, ahead of a preseason contest between the two teams at Raymond James Stadium.

The Titans hosted the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady in the preseason in 2019 before facing him again as a Buccaneer in last year's joint practices in Tampa.

He's spoken to Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians and Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury about potential practice schedules, but the details won't be ironed out until this summer.

"Not only is it an evaluation, but it is also preparation," Vrabel said. "These are good football teams. You saw what Arizona did to us the first week of the season (last year). It's a talented team, a fast team. And we know how good Tampa Bay is, so these are opportunities for us to prepare and also evaluate our team.

"Bruce and Kliff do a great job of scheduling these practices, and doing it in a safe and the most competitive way possible."

-Titans General Manager Jon Robinson said on Sunday the team is committed to keeping receiver A.J. Brown in Nashville long-term.

Vrabel was asked why it's important to do so, and why the team wants to do it.

"One, I would say his growth and development since he's gotten here as a person," Vrabel said. "I've watched the father he has become, and nothing makes me prouder than seeing that. Obviously, he is a fantastic player, but it is the person that I've grown to really care about and those are the types of guys that you want to draft, and then ultimately have on your football team as long as I'm around."

-Vrabel hired Chase Blackburn to his staff as the team's assistant special teams coach.

Blackburn joins the Titans after six seasons (2016-21) coaching for the Carolina Panthers, including the last four as the team's special teams coordinator.

On Monday, Vrabel gave some background on the hiring, and what role Blackburn might have with the team.

-Vrabel said it was important to retain center Ben Jones and outside linebacker Harold Landry.

Earlier this month, the Titans signed both veterans to long-term deals.

"Ben has been a staple of this football team since before I got here," Vrabel said. "What he means to this organization, what he means to this team. His reach goes far beyond the offensive line, but the entire offense, the defense. … His leadership is something I value, his toughness. His availability to be out there no matter what is something I'll always respect, and Ben knows that. I want him and his wife, Alex, and their family to be Titans.

"And Harold, having put a lot of work in the draft process with him and getting to really know him. Great family. So those are the types of players that we want. They handle their business off the field, and they show up and there is a consistency throughout what they do. And I think (Harold's) numbers have reflected that consistency throughout his career with us. So we're very comfortable to want to reward those type of players and keep them with you."

-Vrabel eluded many big-picture topics tossed his way from reporters, but he did give background and quotes when asked about a number of former Titans like Rodger Saffold, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler and D'Onta Foreman.

When a reporter from Atlanta asked him about former Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, he wished him well.

"There's not a better person in this league than Marcus," Vrabel said. "And I'm happy that he gets to have a chance to be a starting quarterback. I love the person, and love everything about him."

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