NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans coaches and scouts have capitalized on an off week for players in the offseason workout schedule to hone in on preparations for the 2014 NFL Draft.
This year's annual three-day player selection meeting was moved back in the calendar two weeks to May 8-10, and the Titans are scheduled to make six selections, including one from the 11th overall spot.
"We've been grinding away all day," Whisenhunt said Thursday during a media session. "(General manager) Ruston (Webster) and his personnel guys have done a tremendous amount of work on it over the last few weeks, but this week has really been focused more about the coaches and the scouts going through the board and going back through them again, talking about the players and getting opinions on how they stack up, and that's a big piece of it."
Whisenhunt, who was hired as Titans coach in January, said he is looking forward to next week's voluntary three-day mini-camp, which will be the staff's first opportunity to work on the field with Titans players. A daily practice in helmets but not pads is allowed, as well as daily walk-throughs. It will give the coaching staff a better idea of the roles the coaches have in mind for players on the roster and help further develop layers of the team's plans for the draft.
"I think Ruston has done a great job, as far as having positions and having guys that we feel like can compete for spots on our football team and we're going to get a chance to see them do some of those things," Whisenhunt said. "To say, 'We're going to go after this or we're going to have to have this (in the draft),' that's an easy thing to say, to quantify it that way, but even if you say you need a certain position and get to your point in the draft and it's not there, what are you going to do? You have to be prepared for a lot of different scenarios and we have a unique opportunity to get a tremendous amount of information about our team next week, and that's a valuable piece before we go into the draft."
LOCKER CONTINUES PROGRESS: Whisenhunt said he's received positive information from director of sports medicine Todd Toriscelli and Jake Locker regarding the quarterback's rehab of a Lisfranc injury that required surgery last fall.
"I know he's started to the point where he's doing a little bit of jogging on his foot," Whisenhunt said. "You know, it feels really well in the feedback I've gotten from talking to Todd and from Jake when we've had the opportunity to sit in here and talk football. It's very encouraging."
Whisenhunt said Locker will participate in meetings and the team might "integrate him into some of the individual" drill periods.
"He won't do any of the team things. It's premature to say what he will do," Whisenhunt said. "If he does do something, it won't be of any real significance, other than just standing in place and throwing some balls to the guys who are doing individual routes."
Whisenhunt said Brian Schwenke, Andy Levitre and Akeem Ayers are unlikely to participate in the mini-camp because of recovering injuries.
OPEN ROAD: The Titans announced their 2014 schedule Wednesday. It includes three road games in September at teams that were in the AFC playoffs last season (Kansas City in the Sept. 7 season-opener, at Cincinnati Sept. 21, at Indianapolis Sept. 28).
"I don't think it's make or break for you, but I think you've got to look at it and say that's a tough start," Whisenhunt said. "Three of those teams on the road are playoff teams from last year, and I know that has no bearing on what they're going to be like this year, but I know it's teams that have had success that understand how to get prepared for games, so going into Kansas City and playing the first game of the year, that's a tough place to play on the road. That's going to be a tough game because we'll not have played a regular season game before we have to go into a tough environment and have to deal with the noise against a good football team. It definitely is a tough start for us, and I think we'll learn a lot about our team from that standpoint."
The Titans' home opener is Sept. 14 against Dallas, and Tennessee has three home games scheduled during October (Cleveland, Jacksonville, Houston).
MORE FOR MORGAN?: The Titans this week added LB to the position description of Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley, who have previously played defensive end for the Titans. Wimbley has experience as a linebacker in 3-4 defenses during his pro career, but 2014 could be the first action for Morgan, the team's first-round pick in 2010. Whisenhunt was asked about Morgan's expanded description.
"He's an athletic guy. We're going to ask him to do a lot of things because we think he can," Whisenhunt said. "Part of this process is going to be, 'What does he do well?' and 'How can we use him in different ways to make him as effective as we possibly can?' "