NASHVILLE – The Titans hit the field at Saint Thomas Sports Park on Thursday for their ninth day of organized team activities this offseason.
Today's session was once again open to media, so I was able to jot down some notes and share them.
Guess who showed up? Yeah, you probably already know by now – receiver Julio Jones.
Some observations ….
-Outfitted in No.2, Jones practiced with the team for the first time since being traded from the Falcons to the Titans over the weekend. He drew a crowd. Afterward, Jones spoke to reporters in a video conference call.
-My first impressions of Jones: Oh man, the guy is a physical specimen. But we all knew that, even from afar. Seeing him up close and in person, Jones really stands out. He's big (listed at 6-3, 220) and he has long arms. He snatches the football out of the air liked he's pissed off. You can hear it from 50 yards away. Jones was explosive in drills, and he looked smooth. His footwork was impressive. Seeing him in the No.2 reminded me of running back Derrick Henry wearing the single digit during his rookie offseason with the team. Henry is No.22 now, of course, and these guys are going to be bruise brothers in Tennessee.
-I could do this whole observations piece on Jones and his first day, but I'm not going to. But I'm not going to stop yet either. It's what you clicked the link for, right? Jones, wearing red cleats, was the center of attention. He gave Titans GM Jon Robinson a big hug at the start of practice, and he mingled with his teammates. Jones, of course, didn't have to be here. These OTAs are voluntary – next week's minicamp is the only mandatory event until training camp. But Jones wanted to be here, so after traveling to Atlanta earlier in the week after first leaving town, he decided to come back to get the work in.
-Jones spent a lot of time with the quarterbacks, including quarterback Ryan Tannehill. When the team broke into special teams and individual drills, Jones followed the QBs and offensive coordinator Todd Downing into the corner of a side field and got in some extra work, and conversation. During this extra time, Tannehill connected with Jones in the corner of the end zone.
-On the first play of a jog-through, Jones snatched a ball out of the air while running across the middle of the field, in stride. Did I mention his strides are enormous? Jones later caught a deep ball from Tannehill at the conclusion of the period.
-During another team jog-through period later in practice, Jones put a quick move on cornerback Breon Borders and he was by him in a second. Tannehill went through the motions, perhaps with a smile, knowing this would've been a touchdown in a game. On this day, Tannehill held the football.
-I was impressed with how Jones chatted up some of the younger guys on his first day, offering advice along the way.
-OK, we're now entering the non-Julio part of this piece, so if you came here for just Julio info, you can check out not. But, since you're here …
-We got the first look at defensive lineman Denico Autry, who spent a lot of time with head coach Mike Vrabel. Autry looks very athletic, and he was smooth during the d-line drills I witnessed.
-Everyone also got a peek at former University of Michigan wrestler Adam Coon, who was signed at the end of last week. Coon is trying to get his technique down so he'll have a chance to compete in camp.
-Veteran receiver Josh Reynolds, who appeared to be slowed in last week's open OTA, did more today, and looked a lot better.
-Linebacker Jayon Brown came up with an interception on a deflected pass during a play at the goalline on a pass intended for tight end Anthony Firkser. Brown came up hobbling a few plays later, however, and left practice early.
-Receiver Marcus Johnson had his best OTA of the offseason, catching a pair of touchdowns during a 7-on-7 period in the red zone.
-Safeties coach Scott Booker spent some extra time working with safety Kevin Byard, something they've done regularly in OTAs.
-Tight end Tommy Hudson made a nice one-handed catch during one period, and tight end Miller Forristall had a touchdown catch on a ball thrown by quarterback DeShone Kizer.
-Rookie receiver Racey McMath went up in a group to make a touchdown catch on a ball thrown by quarterback Logan Woodside. I continue to be impressed by McMath, mainly because he's made a bunch of nice catches in traffic or on balls just off the ground.
-Rookie linebacker Monty Rice earned a lot of praise for a break-up he had at the goalline in a pass intended for Firkser.
-Linebacker Rashaan Evans stepped up to intercept a pass thrown by Kizer in a jog-through.
-Defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons is a guy I notice every day.
-Roughly 70-75 of the 90 Titans currently on the roster were on the practice field on Thursday.
-The Titans are scheduled to conduct a mandatory minicamp next week at Saint Thomas Sports Park.