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Hot Topics From Titans HC Mike Vrabel's Sunday Presser


NASHVILLE – Titans Coach Mike Vrabel held a press conference on Sunday at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after his team's 24-16 preseason win over the Vikings.

Here's a look at the hot topics from today's presser:

-Vrabel addressed the joint practices with the Patriots initially scheduled for the coming week being cancelled. I wrote a separate story on that development: CLICK HERE.

-Vrabel indicated a decision will be made later in the week about whether the team will play more of its starters in the preseason finale against the Patriots. It's a yearly dilemma for every coach in August. "We want to try and get everybody ready for the season, but also try to get them to the season," Vrabel said. "Somebody has to play, but making sure they are conditioned. Harold (Landry) hasn't played (since his torn ACL last year), and Harold may need to go out there, for example," Vrabel said. "There's a lot of different things that we look at individually." Vrabel said he wants to see how the team comes out of practice the next few days health-wise before "being able to determine if these guys go out there and play for a little bit, I don't know how much or how little." Vrabel reminded quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Derrick Henry and receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who have not yet played in the preseason, "have played in a lot of football games."

-When asked if the Titans might consider adding another quarterback after Will Levis was held out with an injury on Saturday night, Vrabel said, "I don't think so. I wouldn't imagine us needing to sign a quarterback."

-Following injuries to Treylon Burks, Kyle Philips and Kearis Jackson, the Titans are getting thin at receiver. But Vrabel didn't seem overly concerned about the numbers. "We've been OK there," Vrabel said. "We've had some bodies, and that will be more reps for some other guys. But we'll see … It's still early on in the treatment process."

-Vrabel said inside linebacker Monty Rice "is not available" when asked about his situation, and "when he is ready to go, he'll be back out there." Rice didn't play in Minnesota, and linebackers Jack Gibbens and Chance Campbell worked inside. Vrabel said Gibbens settled down "but I don't think he was at his best to start." Vrabel said Gibbens ended up playing well. "Gibby is reliable," Vrabel said, "and he is able to do his job, to communicate."

-Vrabel praised running back Julius Chesnut, who ran for 98 yards on 13 carries, including a 55-yard run. Chestnut also scored on a one-yard touchdown catch, and he also showed up on special teams, Vrabel said. "We made him a captain yesterday for a reason," Vrabel said of Chestnut. "He embodies what we believe in." Vrabel said Chestnut is a worker who is one of the "best finishers" on the team. "When you see (guys) running at practice, you'll see 36 hauling ass down the field when he doesn't have the football."

-Quarterback Malik Willis completed 10-of-17 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown on Saturday night, along with an interception. Willis also ran for 91 yards on 11 carries. He was sacked twice while playing the entire game. "I saw him play fast, when he felt like the pocket wasn't there," Vrabel said of Willis. Vrabel said Willis needs to be more careful switching the football from one hand to the other, which has led to turnovers. Willis could also improve in other areas as well, including his decision-making, Vrabel said. "Keep working," Vrabel said of Willis. "(We're) excited about his ability to use his legs as a weapon, but also remain a passer."

-Edge rusher Caleb Murphy had two sacks vs the Vikings, and he has three in the preseason. "He factors in pass rushing and he continues to try and find a role on special teams," Vrabel said of Murphy. "I love his attitude – he shows up every day ready to work." Vrabel said Murphy could still improve as far as overall awareness and technique, "but as far as rushing, he has shown the ability to win and we'll rep him more this week."

-When speaking on the positives of Saturday's game, Vrabel said the team covered kicks well in the second half, with three tackles inside the 20. Vrabel thought the ball security was better from the running backs, and he liked seeing the seven pass break-ups. He liked seeing the team's work in the four-minute drive to close out the game, but said the execution in the passing game needs to continue to improve, from throwing it to catching it to being in the right spot, to pass protection. "We'll continue to work on those things," Vrabel said.

-Vrabel shouted out defensive back Anthony Kendall for his work on special teams, and he said cornerback Tre Avery continues to improve.

-Vrabel also praised receiver Mason Kinsey, who took a few snaps at quarterback on Saturday night. "Mason is out there every day," Vrabel said. "Mason, during the time that he's spent on our practice squad, probably runs more than any player that we have on our roster," Vrabel said. "Running receiver, playing DB throughout practice." Vrabel said he wanted to give Kinsey an opportunity to get a few snaps at QB because he earned it.

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