NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With the Titans opening organized team activity practices this week, the underlying theme was to look but don't tackle.
Coaches wanted to use the 10 OTA practices over a three-week span to challenge players and build for a mandatory minicamp June 17-19 that precedes a break until training camp opens in late July.
Players are in helmets and shorts during the OTA practices, so contact is not intended. Both sides, however, said they are benefiting from the on-field looks they are receiving from the offense and defense.
The Titans have new offensive and defensive systems, but the goals remain the same. For the offense: it's to move the ball and score points, and for the defense: it's to stop both.
Delanie Walker said it feels like the Titans are putting in 84 plays a day, providing a challenge for the offense to quickly grasp the playbook and for the defense to read and react.
"It's going to keep coming at us and as long as we can keep taking it, I think the coaches are going to keep throwing it at us," Walker said. "I'm picking up it pretty well. I actually messed up one play (on Tuesday). That's good. That is very good, so I'm excited about that."
Safety Bernard Pollard said he likes what Tennessee has been able to do as it shifts from a 4-3 to a hybrid defense with elements of a 3-4 and 4-3 and what it's been able to recognize in the offense across the line of scrimmage.
"We're putting in a lot, but our job is to stop those 84 plays," Pollard said. "We are doing a great job as far as competing against each other. We can't do anything stupid because they are our teammates, but this time right now is for us to be able to understand the shifts, the motions, the different things we're going to see during the year and I think we have done an excellent job because to go from a 4-3 to a 3-4 you have pretty much the same guys there, (but) now you're moving them, you're standing some guys up, you're doing different things.
"This is an exciting position for me because obviously I was on a team that ran a 3-4 where we won a Super Bowl (Baltimore). We're running a similar defense, so it is exciting for me," Pollard continued. "Guys are understanding what's going on, and it's going to be a show out there."
Quarterback Jake Locker is working with his third offensive coordinator in as many seasons as Jason Michael implements a system that new Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt used as San Diego's offensive coordinator in 2013 when Michael coached Chargers tight ends. Locker said there's been an open dialogue between coaches and players "to find a comfort zone with plays that they like calling and plays that I enjoy running and feel confident running."
"I think it's going to be a comfortable collaboration between the both of us to find something that works for everybody," Locker said.
Defenders aren't the only ones getting multiple looks to process. Locker said defensive coordinator Ray Horton's system is challenging the offense, and the variations they are showing should help Tennessee in 2014.
"I think one advantage of going against a defense like this throughout OTAs, minicamp and then the fall camp is you're going to see almost every look you'll see during the season," Locker said. "It gives you an opportunity to see it, talk about it, watch it in the film room and figure out the best ways for us to kind of counter it, whether it be an audible play call or protection call, so you get an opportunity to run the mental gymnastics, and then doing it on the field in these settings, Sundays are not the first time you've done it. Hopefully that's an advantage for us."