Observations From Titans-Patriots Practice on Thursday


NASHVILLE – The Titans hit the field at Saint Thomas Sports Park – once again with the New England Patriots – on Thursday at training camp.

Here's a look at what stood out in the joint practice between the Titans and Patriots:

-The day started off with a little humor – a pretty good troll job from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Titans coach Mike Vrabel. On the way out to the practice fields, Brady swung by Vrabel, who was chatting with Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Brady then handed Vrabel, his former teammate with the Patriots, a small trophy. It turns out the score of last year's game between the two teams – Titans 34, Patriots 10 – was engraved on the trophy. Vrabel appeared to take it all in with good humor, offering a smile. Neither Brady nor Vrabel cared to talk much about the exchange afterward, however.

-A day after leaving practice early, receiver Adam Humphries was back on the practice field for the Titans, but he didn't stay long. Humphries headed back inside after working in early drills. He did not take part in any team drills.

-There was a lot more pushing and shoving in Thursday's session, and several times early it looked like a fight could break out. Then, one did. I initially called it a brawl in a Twitter post, but "skirmish", "dustup", "pushing and shoving" probably describe it better. I didn't see any punches thrown, but over 20 players were in the middle of the fray grabbing facemasks and pushing. It all started when Titans receiver A.J. Brown got involved in an exchange with Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe jumped in, and so did a bunch of others. It looked like it was about to me a melee. Vrabel and Titans GM Jon Robinson were quick to the scene to break things up, though. Afterward, Vrabel downplayed the entire incident.

-Marcus Mariota had a better day than Ryan Tannehill did for the second straight day, although both quarterbacks had ups and downs during the session. It's safe to say Mariota had more ups. He made a number of nice throws, he got tight end Delanie Walker involved, and he also spread the ball around to a number of receivers while working against the Patriots. Mariota also sailed a number of passes, missing some open targets. Tannehill, who threw two picks on Wednesday, was mistake-free, and he finished better than he started.

-Walker, who had the day off on Wednesday, was very noticeable. He made a pair of catches in a two-minute period late, as well as a catch on a two-point conversion try. He's looking like his old self.

-I thought the Titans had a good day in the running game, even without Derrick Henry.

-I spent a good chunk of the day watching the Titans offense, but I got a chance to see a lot of the defense against Brady and the Patriots in the second half of practice, when the teams came together on one field. The Titans made some plays, but the defense also gave up too many chunk plays. Brady connected on several explosive plays against the Titans down the stretch, including a really long pass to receiver Braxton Berrios.

-In a Team Run/Play Action Pass period early, Mariota was 2-of-2 with completions to running backs Dion Lewis and Alex Barnes. In the same period with the 2, Tannehill was also 2-of-2, and one of them was a long ball to receiver DeAngelo Yancey, who made the catch of the day when he pinned the ball against the back of a Patriots defender.

-In a 7-on-7 Red Zone period, Mariota connected with Lewis, Walker and tight end Anthony Firkser before throwing a touchdown pass to receiver Darius Jennings. Taywan Taylor had a ball knocked from his grasp in this period. With the 2s in the same period, Tannehill missed on his first five throws, although one should've been caught by running back Akeem Hunt and Davis landed out of bounds on a caught pass on the boundary.

-In a Team Red Zone period, Mariota connected with Lewis on a short throw, but the period fizzled when Mariota was first sacked, and then he threw high, over the head of an open Jennings.

-Tannehill did a better job in the red zone period, completing touchdown passes to Taylor and tight end Cole Wick after a pair of incompletions.

-Brady connected with running back James White for a score in New England's red zone period, and he also connected with Berrios and receiver Gunner Olszewski on completions. Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson made a play here, and linebacker Jayon Brown was around the ball.

The Tennessee Titans participate in the second day of joint practices with the New England Patriots at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donald Page, Jourdan Gottlieb)

-When the Patriots ran their 2s in the red zone period, Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard blew up a screen pass from quarterback Brian Hoyer to Rex Burkhead, and linebacker David Long blew up a run. Defensive lineman Matt Dickerson made a nice stop at the goallne.

-One of Mariota's best throws was a 20-yard strike to Firkser in a team period that also included a nice catch from Walker.

-Brady connected with a wide open Ben Watson to burn the Titans defense. Woodyard chased the tight end, but I suspect others were victimized here as well

-One of Tannehill's best throws was a dart to Wick, but receiver Kalif Raymond let him down when he wasn't able to haul in a pair of catchable balls later in a team period. Tannehill ended his day with three straight completions in a team period, which included a beauty to Hollister.

-Titans defensive lineman Brent Urban batted down a pair of passes at the line of scrimmage.

-During a 2-minute period, Mariota overthrew Davis and Jennings while also connecting twice with Walker.

-A.J. Brown made a really nice catch when he outfought a Patriots defensive back for the football.

-Brady burned the Titans deep twice in a 2-minute period late. He found Berrios open for a 60-plus yard gain, with safety Amani Hooker running Berrios out at the 10. Later, Brady connected with Berrios again deep, with safety Kevin Byard chasing. The only good news on the second on: the Patriots were called for holding on the play.

-In 1-on-1 drills early, receivers Papi White and Cody Hollister made impressive solid pays for the Titans. Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams, who played at Vanderbilt, made nice breakup on a ball intended for receiver Corey Davis.

-In addition to Henry, fullback David Fluellen, guard Nate Davis, linebacker Cameron Wake and linebacker Nigel Harris did not practice for the Titans.

-Tackle Taylor Lewan and running back Dalyn Dawkins both left practice early. Lewan looked to be dealing with hydration issues.

Next up: Saturday, 6 p.m. (Preseason game vs Patriots at Nissan Stadium).

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