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Observations From Thursday's Titans-Buccaneers Practice


NASHVILLE – The Titans took the field for the second of of two joint practices against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Here's a look at what stood out:

-Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sharp once again – even better than Wednesday, in my opinion. Tannehill completed 17-of-23 passes in the 7-on-7 and team periods combined. He got especially hot in a 7-on-7 red zone period when he completed touchdown passes on four straight plays, to four different targets – receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, receiver Treylon Burks, tight end Austin Hooper and running back Dontrell Hilliard. In the two days of work vs the Buccaneers, Tannehill completed 38-of-52 passes in the 7-on-7 and team periods combine. In 15 training camp practices – including today's work vs the Buccaneers – Tannehill is now 163-of-234 in 7-on-7 and team periods combined, with three interceptions. Tannehill did not throw a pick on Thursday after being picked off once on Wednesday.

-I mentioned Burks just above. His return to practice was a welcome sight after he left Wednesday's session early. Burks took part in individual drills, the 1-on-1s, and some other periods, but he didn't take part in all of the practice periods. But his quick return was seen as a positive.

-Receiver Kyle Philips stole the show early in the 1-on-1s and 2-on-2s with the Buccaneers defensive backs, and he didn't stop there. Philips got open again and again and again – and in a hurry. Check out the video below for proof, as I recorded all of the 1-on-1s and the 2-on-2s. Philips put a move on Buccaneers defensive back Logan Ryan that nearly sent him to the ground. Philips was also a big factor in the 7-on-7 and team periods, especially near the goal line. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said this when describing the quick and shifty Philips: "He goes rabbit hunting with a hammer."

-Vrabel wasn't as happy talking about a mini-brawl at the end of today's session. Thursday's session was much chippier than Wednesday, as players had to be separated on several occasions with some pushing and shoving. Then, at the very end, Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette and Titans defensive end Jeffery Simmons got into it, and actually exchanged punches. The two teams then jostled for position in a big group, as Vrabel did his best to separate players. I saw it described by some as a big brawl, but this was hardly a full-scale melee. I've seen much bigger, and much more heated. Still, it was clear Vrabel wasn't happy about it. "I think we should be able to not to dumb sh*t that hurts the team," Vrabel said. "I would say that that was an example of that. You guys are all writing about what that it – that's what that would be."

-Simmons didn't take part in all of Thursday's drills, as the team appeared to hold him back. But he was in long enough for a mini dust-up with Bucs guard Luke Goedeke early as well. Simmons batted a ball into the air late that nearly resulted in an interception.

-Defensive back Caleb Farley had an off day on Wednesday, but he responded well in bounce-back fashion on Thursday. Farley was around the ball all day against the Buccaneers, and toward the end of practice he intercepted Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert while also breaking up two passes into the end zone.

-In addition to Farley, Titans safety Adrian Colbert also had an interception.

-Running back Dontrell Hilliard has had a good camp, and he was among those who stood out for the Titans on Thursday. Hilliard is tough to cover out of the backfield, and the Buccaneers found that out over the past two days. I saw Hilliard catch at least three touchdown passes on Thursday.

-Quarterback Malik Willis continued to get a ton of reps, and afterward Vrabel said that's because the team wants to get a good long look at him. Vrabel said he's actually talked to quarterback Logan Woodside about this. Willis had his moments on Thursday, both good and bad. Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting picked Willis off in a 7-on-7 period, when Willis also threw behind Burks and was high on another attempt. But in the next period, Willis did a few impressive things – he faked a handoff and sprinted into the end zone in a team red zone period before throwing a touchdown strike to tight end Chig Okonkwo. Later, Willis juked Buccaneers outside linebacker Carl Nassib and ran in for another score.

-Buccaneers linebacker Andre Anthony yelled for the Willis-led Titans No.2 offense to "Get the f**k off the field" after Tampa Bay frustrated the rookie QB in a two-minute drive late. Not too long after that the scrap took place.

-Vrabel said he's not sure who will start at QB for the Titans on Saturday in preseason game No.2.

-Running back Hassan Haskins lowered his pads in a big (and loud) collision with Buccaneers defensive back Logan Ryan on the goal line. From where I was standing, I thought Haskins got the best of the collision, as he kept his momentum moving forward on the play. (Watching the replay confirmed this for me). But both players displayed toughness on the rep, as Ryan was being just as aggressive. Both players went to the ground, and both sides celebrated afterward. It's safe to say this was a bang-bang play.

-Linebacker David Long Jr. made a big hit early on in a Tampa Bay run period, and I noticed linebacker Rashad Weaver again on Thursday as well.

-(Sorry I don't have more highlights from the defense; I spent most of the day watching the offense).

-Nick Westbrook-Ikhine had a good day. He's catching a lot of balls, and fighting through contact to do it. Westbrook-Ikhine caught a touchdown while streaking across the middle of the field in a late red zone period.

-Running back Derrick Henry was on the practice field and went through individual drills, but he did not take part in the contact periods. Henry spent a good part of the day working in the sand pit. After the session, Henry chatted with Buccaneers receiver Julio Jones, his teammate in Tennessee a year ago.

-Former Titans kicker Ryan Succop, now with the Buccaneers, chatted with Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill after the session.

-The Titans had a special teams period when kicker Randy Bullock worked on his technique, but he didn't kick the ball. Bullock is 67-of-73 in training camp.

-Safety Tyree Gillespie, acquired in a trade with the Raiders on Wednesday, was on the practice field with the team for the first time on Thursday. Gillespie, who has been assigned No. 25, had a wrap on his left hand.

-Defensive lineman Denico Autry, guard Jamarco Jones, guard Nate Davis, defensive back Chris Jackson, safety Theo Jackson, linebacker Dylan Cole, offensive lineman Christian DiLauro, defensive back A.J. Moore, and defensive back Elijah Molden did not practice.

-Fullback Tory Carter and defensive lineman Kevin Strong went inside early.

-Former Titans receivers Nate Washington and Marc Mariani attended Thursday's practice.

-Former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher was also on hand for the end of Thursday's session.

-ESPN's Dianna Russini and Stepania Bell were at Thursday's session.

-Former Titans linebacker Tim Shaw was on hand for today's practice.

-Kicker Caleb Shudak and linebacker Monty Rice did not practice, as they're on the team's Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of camp.

-Referees were on hand once again to work today's Titans-Buccaneers practice.

-Roughly 200 fans attended Thursday's session, including sponsors and friends and family members of coaches and players.

-The Titans aren't scheduled to practice on Friday.

-The Titans will face the Buccaneers in preseason game No.2 on Saturday at Nissan Stadium.

Next practice: Monday, 1:30 p.m.

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