NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Taylor Lewan is inquiring about the intricacies.
The Titans' top pick of the 2014 NFL Draft and his rookie classmates joined veterans Tuesday for the first of 10 scheduled organized team activity practices over the next three weeks. Lewan said there wasn't one specific emotion he encountered before taking the field at Saint Thomas Sports Park for his first action against veterans. He viewed the experience as a learning opportunity.
"A lot of things were going through my head, but I just wanted to get out there and play ball and make sure I knew the plays because I've only been here for three weeks. I'm still learning plays and getting all that stuff done," Lewan said. "You know how to play football and know how to do specific things, so now it's just learning the little intricate details of the NFL and how guys work, how guys tick, and also learn the plays."
Lewan said veteran tackles Michael Roos, a mainstay in Tennessee since 2005, and Michael Oher, a free agent signee after five seasons in Baltimore, helped when rookies joined veterans last week for the final stretch of Phase II of the offseason program that included meetings and positional work. Rookies had a separate schedule in their first week with the club, but this week, their participation is expanding to include on-field team sessions.
"It's a lot different," Lewan said. "There's a way they practice, a way they do things. It's a lot more crisp, a lot more clean, and obviously the talent and speed is a lot more."
Roos, who is preparing for his 10th season, said he considers teaching Lewan part of his job, drawing a parallel to the way that he learned from Brad Hopkins in 2005, even if it means Lewan eventually fills the left tackle spot from which Roos has started 143 of a possible 144 regular season games.
"He's very energetic, he's intense, a hard worker and wants to learn, so he's eager and asking questions all the time," Roos said. "It makes it easier to teach when someone wants to learn that much."
CONTINUED LEARNING: The hiring of new coach Ken Whisenhunt and coordinators Jason Michael (offense) and Ray Horton (defense) has created an element of continued learning for veterans. Whisenhunt said it's likely that the defense may be ahead of the offense when the offseason program culminates in a mandatory minicamp June 17-19.
"There's more veterans interspersed through the defense, so from the standpoint of communicating on the field and handling that, they'll probably (be ahead)," Whisenhunt said. "The defense always seems to get a head start, and I wouldn't expect that to be different, but we had good competition, so hopefully the offense will be able to pick it up and make it a good battle."
With the maximum of 90 players on the roster and a lot that he wants to accomplish, Whisenhunt opted to split the squad across two fields to increase the number of opportunities for each player.
"You're trying to get reps for all of them so you can get a sense of where they are, but the tempo was good today," Whisenhunt said. "I think we had a pretty good set, as far as mixing the reps so we got a chance to look at everybody and put them in different situations."
Players noticed more reps and less rest on a day when the heat and humidity began its summertime climb.
"We got a lot of reps, but it's going to help us out in the long run," tight end Delanie Walker said. "The coaches know what they're doing, they've got an idea for us to get us more reps so the rookies can also learn the offense. It was exhausting but we finished practice, and I felt like we had a good day."
Running back Dexter McCluster, who joined the Titans via free agency this offseason, said veterans can learn from teaching rookies and benefit the most from the on-field action.
"It's non-stop learning. This is a big playbook and there's a short amount of time, so we really have to know what we're doing. Going back to those rookies asking us, it forces us to think about it and stay on top of our game," McCluster said. "It's always better getting out on the field and seeing a moving object and seeing who you have to block. You can sit in the classroom all day, and that's where it starts, but there's nothing like going out there and physically seeing it and doing it."
FIRST AND SECOND: Whisenhunt said the Titans have plenty to install and work on during the rest of the OTAs and minicamp.
"We don't have red zone in, we don't have two-minute, we don't have short-yardage and goal-line, so we've still got a lot to put in and a lot to go through," Whisenhunt said. "(Tuesday) was just a small piece of it. We didn't even do third downs. It's a short period of time and we've got a lot to get in, but the guys are working hard and that's really good."
EQUIPMENT GRANT: Titans guard Andy Levitre has distributed a $1,500 equipment grant to Camp Good Days & Special Times, a non-profit organization that is based in Mendon, N.Y., and hosts summer camps and events for children, adults and families who have been affected by cancer.
Levitre received the grant after he was selected to the USA Football All-Fundamentals Team that honored 26 NFL players (11 offense, 11 defense, four special teams) in January.
"We're real excited to have some new equipment and new supplies for the kids," Camp Good Days & Special Times Executive Director Wendy Mervis said in a press release. "The kids are just going to be ecstatic when they see all the new stuff, and we can't thank Andy and USA Football enough."