NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans' calendar shifts from 10 voluntary organized team activity practices to a mandatory three-day minicamp next week, but coach Mike Munchak wants more of the same.
The NFL installed rules to govern teams' offseason programs last July when owners and players approved the collective bargaining agreement. Each team is allowed to conduct a three-day minicamp within a certain period this month before breaking until training camp opens at the end of July. The rules allow teams to utilize two-a-day sessions (one in helmets, one as a walk-through), but Munchak said he's been pleased with the Titans' productivity.
"We'll do something very similar to what we're doing here," Munchak said. "Most of the on-the-field rules are the same, other than the fact that we can be out here longer if we want. I think we're getting a lot of work done in the time frame we're out here, so it will be very similar next week."
The Titans started their offseason program April 23 to allow rookies a maximum amount of time on the field with veterans. Players haven't been required to be at Baptist Sports Park, but the team has had nearly perfect attendance, except for a few excused absences.
"I think we've been working so well and the attendance has been so good from when the program started eight weeks ago," Munchak said. "I just didn't feel it was necessary. If I felt that that time would be very beneficial, then I would do it, but I think we've covered a lot of ground, done a lot of things, so if we keep on pace and have a good day tomorrow and finish up next week, that's more than enough time to cover the things we have. That was an easy decision."
Although the heat and humidity are increasing, several players stayed on the field following the end of practice to work on personal improvements. Jake Locker threw extra passes to several receivers, running backs caught passes from a machine and special teamers also stayed on the field Thursday.
"There's a lot of guys that want to be really good and are willing to put a little extra work," Locker said. "It's fun when you get an opportunity to work with guys like that."
Locker said he focused on fundamentals such as footwork.
"Everybody says it, but when you do it enough, it becomes your muscle memory," Locker said. "I'm just trying to get where it's always consistent, always the same thing, and 20 throws after practice can help you do that."
Marc Mariani said the extra reps allow each receiver an opportunity to fine-tune details.
"Guys know that they need to work on little things," Mariani said. "I'll be working on something, Damian (Williams) will be working on something else. All the guys are working on little things to improve themselves after practice, whether it's footwork, hand placement, whatever, and also it gives (receiving coach Dave Ragone) a chance to work with us individually. He does a phenomenal job, and we didn't have this time last year. The more reps you get, the better the timing is, the better everything is, so hopefully we'll be clicking come September and through 2012."
The Titans are adding more complexity to their offense this season, and a better understanding will allow for faster play, Mariani said.
"When we hit the field we want to be playing as fast as possible and not having to think out there," Mariani said. "Right now, with only 10 days of OTAs and three minicamps and with all the stuff we're installing, there's a lot of mental stuff going in. For us guys who have been here a couple of years, it's a little bit easier, but there's still a lot of learning to do."
Passing partners: Locker, a native of Washington, and Matt Hasselbeck, who played 10 seasons in Seattle before signing with the Titans last year, are recruiting Titans receivers to make a trip to the Pacific Northwest in July to work on some passing routes before returning to Nashville at the end of July.
"I've got one or two guys coming out, and Jake and I are going to get together at some point," Hasselbeck said Tuesday. "Typically, what I've had to do in the past is just find … wide receivers and tight ends from other teams to throw with. If you can find guys that are your actual teammates, that makes it better."
It would be a continuation of the friendly competition between Locker and Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback spot this year and a chance to further develop rhythm. Hasselbeck, who started all 16 Titans games last season, said it will also help prepare his arm for training camp.
Wright sidelined: Rookie receiver Kendall Wright landed hard on his shoulder Thursday as he attempted to make a diving catch against tight coverage. Wright stayed on the ground after the impact while Titans trainers evaluated him. The team planned to take X-rays and an MRI of the 20th overall pick as precautionary measures.
"It's kind of in his DNA to try to catch every ball, and it's probably one that he should just let go (in practice)," Munchak said. "I didn't see it in slow motion yet, but he fell on his shoulder."
Munchak said he's seen Wright make similar plays since putting on a Titans jersey, and said the defense has been disciplined in testing the offense but avoiding contact.
"You don't want anyone to get hurt, obviously, but from what we could tell, it's not something that's going to be long term," Munchak said.
Britt update: Kenny Britt continued to show progress in his recovery from a torn ACL and MCL that he suffered early last season. Britt proceeded from straight-line running last week to drills that included lateral cuts under the supervision of Titans trainers. He was scheduled to do those drills next week, but Munchak said the recovery process can benefit from an athlete and trainer being flexible with how the player's body is feeling from week to week and day to day.
"That's something where I'll get to see more of him when we finish practice next week, but it's encouraging," Munchak said. "I know it's good for his peace of mind to be out here running again after his little break because of the (arthroscopic) surgery. That's a good thing and hopefully that will lead to him having a great month and be ready to help us at the end of July."