NFL Officials Join Titans at Friday's Practice


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- NFL official Clete Blakeman and his team joined the Titans at Saint Thomas Sports Park on Friday to meet with players, coaches and media to discuss new rules for 2014 and get everyone in tune for the upcoming season.

"I think it's great. You get to talk about the rules that they're going to implement this year and the rule changes," said head coach Ken Whisenhunt. "They get to talk to the players. They've been in meetings today with our players already, so any questions that you have, any year when they have changes on what they're going to do and how they're going to see it, just communicating that with us is great because we get to see it actually on the field."

The dialogue between the officials and players is an extensive process with the goal to get to Week 1 with no gray area regarding the rules and how they will be implemented.

"Then we get to go in tonight and they'll do their presentation, and also anything that came up from practice today, we'll have a chance to discuss," Whisenhunt added. "Then they're going to be there tomorrow night, too, so it's a good couple of days."

Every year, the players are first informed of what the new rule changes will be. It is an overview and a standard presentation shown to all 32 NFL teams. The process becomes useful when the officials spend time with each team individually and allow the team to dictate the conversation.

"There are different components of it," Whisenhunt said. "When we're in the group setting and they do their presentation, it's really more about the rule changes and just what the points of emphasis are going to be this year, but when they come in and stay for a couple of days like they're doing, which they do every year -- and they go to the individual meetings --that's when you get the interaction with them.

"That's when you get to ask them about specific plays," Whisenhunt continued. "We put together a 15-play tape that we want to ask them about those plays. Some of it involves practice, some of it involves game film. They're getting a chance to use their mechanics or go through what they see and explain to us what they're looking for."

The opportunity for players to talk to officials in training camp provides an environment for discussion that is tamer than it might be on a game day.

"It's not in a pressure situation like it is on game day," Whisenhunt said. "Sometimes when those things happen and you try to get an explanation, it's a little difficult, so this in this atmosphere, I think it's great for both parties."

It was no surprise that safety Bernard Pollard had his fun with the officials on Friday.

"I had to eye an official down because he hit me with a flag last year," Pollard joked. "I had to eye him down when he came in. It was kind of a standoff."

Jokes aside, Pollard went on to explain the true value of the day from the players' perspective.

"I think it was a big learning experience for us," Pollard said. "We got the opportunity to see the rule changes and how they're implementing those. It's going to take some getting used to for the offense and defense. It's going to be a lot of fun. These guys are out there practicing as well. They're looking at film all offseason so now they get the opportunity to see it on the field."

Some of the offensive players took the attendance of the officials as an opportunity to poke fun at their defensive counterparts.

"Just having those guys around [the officials] is nice, plus it keeps the DB's hands off us which is nice too," joked wide receiver Marc Mariani.

Fullback Jackie Battle continued the fun at the expense of the defense.

"To me, it's mostly for the defensive guys. They're the ones who always have a ton of questions to ask because they're always on the border of doing something illegal," said a smiling Battle. "I think it's good for them to be here."

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