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Observations From Titans Rookie Minicamp on Friday


NASHVILLE – Titans rookies were on the field on Friday for the first day of a two-day rookie minicamp.

The team's seven draft picks, along with 16 undrafted free agents, took part, along with 22 players who were invited on a tryout basis.

Here's a look at some observations from today's session…

-First-round pick JC Latham met many of his new teammates for the first time on Friday.

He also met "Bertha" and "Olga", the names given to the new blocking sleds being used by offensive linemen this offseason. They were invented by veteran o-line coach Bill Callahan, and they weigh 380 pounds each, per Latham.

The "Climb" sleds have proven to be a real pain in the rear end for the veteran players this offseason, because the technique to use them is tricky.

"It's designed in a way to more accurately mimic what … a normal defender would feel like," Titans Coach Brian Callahan said. "They're really hard to move, and to move straight. Because they tip, and they're off-balance. … There's a lot of indoctrination that goes into those sleds. Our (veterans), it's taken them a couple of weeks to feel good about moving them the way they're supposed to move."

Latham struggled to move the sled at first try, and it brought a slight grin to the face of his position coach.

The big offensive tackle quickly got the hang of it, though, and moved the sled as well as any of the veterans who've worked during the past few weeks of the offseason program.

It was all part of an eye-opening first day for Latham, who took a knee and said a quick prayer before taking the field. Callahan said all the individual work Latham did Friday was left tackle stance related.

"It was pretty good," Latham said of his first day. "A lot of areas to improve in, the speed of the game and just being ready to go every single play. But it was really fun. I really enjoyed myself."

-Big man T'Vondre Sweat, the team's second-round pick, was pretty impressive in his individual drills.

The 6-foot-4, 366-pound defensive lineman looked like a dancing bear as he maneuvered through stand up blocking dummies.

He also got plenty of tutoring from defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who preached technique to the former Texas Longhorn right out of the gate.

"I felt great," Sweat said. "Just being here, in Nashville, it's amazing. It was awesome to be out there today. … Anyone, when you haven't played football in a minute, of course you're going to come out with a little rust. But once you're going, you're going."

Sweat got some questions about his weight, and his diet.

"Right now, before anyone asks, me and my nutritionist and my coaches are looking to find that perfect weight for me to play at," Sweat said. "I don't know that perfect weight. But, ya'll (will) see when ya'll see."

-Inside linebacker Cedric Gray, outfitted in No. 51, was thinking about everything from his footwork to his stance to his first step, but he said it was a great first day out.

Gray had an opportunity to call the defense on Friday.

"It was good," he said. "That's something in the job that I want to be able to have. So being able to go out there and do that for the first time today, it was (great)."

Gray said he's already comfortable with some of his rookie teammates as he finds out more about them.

He's getting to know his hotel roommate, T'Vondre Sweat, really well.

Gray confirmed Sweat is a snorer.

"It's pretty bad,'" Gray said. "It's pretty loud, but it wasn't too bad. You have to go to sleep first, that's the key."

-Cornerback Jarvis Brownlee, the team's fifth-round pick out of Louisville, was on the field at the start in number 29.

Brownlee took part in the stretch period and a portion of the individual period before heading inside, however.

Brownlee chatted with a trainer on the field before walking off on his own power. I did not see him return.

-Receiver Jha'Quan Jackson, outfitted in number 19, looked quick.

Jackson was shifty as he caught the football and got out of his break in a hurry on one play, and he made a number of nice catches on the day.

Jackson also let a football go off his hands, his first drop as a pro.

"You see speed," Callahan said said of Jackson. "You see his suddenness and his quickness, things that made him a productive returner, things that made him a productive receiver. It was good to see. … You could see his change of direction, his ability to get in and out of cuts, his quickness. It was pretty impressive to start."

-Linebacker James Williams, one of the team's seventh-round picks, was outfitted in number 52.

I got a pretty short look at Williams in the open portion of practice, as he worked with the linebackers.

Williams, who played safety in college, sure looks the part as he makes the transition to ILB in the NFL.

He's listed at 6-foot-4, 232 pounds.

-Outside linebacker Jaylen Harrell worked with the edge rushers during the first portion of individual drills, before moving into a bigger group, with the defensive linemen, in a drill with the stand up dummies.

Harrell, decked out in No.92, looked athletic and smooth in the open field.

-In addition to the draft picks and undrafted free agents, the Titans had 22 players on the field on a tryout basis.

The group included a pair of former first-round picks in edge rusher Shane Ray and cornerback William Jackson III.

"They're in the same boat (as the others), even though they've played some football and some guys have some tape out there, playing NFL football," Callahan said. "Just a chance for us to look at some veteran players and see if they can help us, add some competition and some depth. It's always good if you have some guys that have played to bring them in and take a look at them."

See the Top Images from the Titans practice on Friday at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Tennessee Titans)

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