NASHVILLE – The Titans took the field for their third open practice of training camp on Saturday at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Here's a look at what stood out:
-The defense won the day today at Titans camp. Safety Kevin Byard reminded me of that when I crossed paths with him after practice, telling me, with a smile: "Make sure you get it right, Jim." And yes, I saw it – the defense set the tone in a spirited practice that included a good group of fans, lottery winners from earlier this month. The secondary broke up a number of passes, and the defensive linemen and edge rushers made their presence known as well.
-Let's also tell it like it is here – the play of the offense was a little sloppy. I counted four drops – tight end Alize' Mack, running back Tyjae Spears, receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, receiver Kearis Jackson – and some catchable balls escaped the grasp if their intended targets. Also, a pitch from quarterback Malik Willis to Spears went through the running back's hands in the backfield, and that play might have been a disaster in a game.
-DeAndre Hopkins didn't have a highlight-reel catch on Saturday like the one on Friday, but he practiced once again and continues to look smooth. Defenders have been competitive working against the wily veteran, however, making him earn what he gets.
-Defensive back Kristian Fulton is one of those defenders. Fulton has looked solid early in camp. One day after Coach Mike Vrabel paid Fulton a nice compliment, Fulton was physical and aggressive once again. Fulton blanketed Hopkins in a team period, and he caused an incompletion. After the play, Fulton did the imaginary hammer celebration. Fulton also broke up a deep ball intended for Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, as he gave him no room. I feel comfortable saying Fulton, who had two vocal fans on hand at practice, is off to a good start in camp.
-The secondary was mostly solid all day. Sure, they gave up some plays, but a lot of hands were on footballs, and receivers were well covered on a lot of their routes. It was Byard who perhaps set the tone early when he broke up a Ryan Tannehill pass downfield intended for receiver Treylon Burks.
-One memorable play of practice came late, when quarterback Malik Willis threw a beautiful pass to receiver Colton Dowell, who was streaking 40 yards downfield, heading toward the sideline. The ball landed right in Dowell's hands, but safety Mike Brown knocked the ball out almost immediately on a fabulous play. Linebacker Monty Rice ran alongside Dowell for 10 yards after the play, and got in his ear: "You're not in college any more," Rice told Dowell. Dowell, who played at Tennessee-Martin, kept his composure and went back to the huddle.
-The best sequence of the day came during a team period late, with Willis at the helm. It featured one good play by the defense, and one by the offense. Stay with me here.
-Outside linebacker Rashad Weaver made the play of the day for the defense, as he stepped in front of a pass thrown by Willis for an interception. It was the first INT of training camp for Willis. It set off a wild celebration by the defense, as players congratulated one another.
-On the very next play of this two-play sequence, Willis connected with receiver Chris Moore on a deep ball that would have been a touchdown, with defensive back Chris Jackson trailing on the play. What followed was more celebrating, this time by players on offense. After practice, Vrabel raved about Moore and how much he likes him.
-Tannehill was 6-of-12 on the day on 7-on-7 and team periods combined, and that included a deep ball to receiver Treylon Burks. Burks also made a nice catch on 1-on-1s on a deep ball downfield.
-Willis was 4-of-9 on the day, with the previously mentioned pick. He was victimized by at least two of the drops, and some good plays by the defense.
-Quarterback Will Levis was 6-of-8 on the day, and he's looked more comfortable in camp than he did during the offseason. I've noticed more positive plays from him the last few days, and now have him 17-of-23 in 7-on-7 and team periods combined so far in camp.
-Undrafted receiver Tre'Shaun Harrison did some good things during the offseason, and he's carried that over into camp. Harrison made a pair of catches on 1-on-1s, and he made a great catch when he kept the ball from hitting the ground on Levis pass.
-Check below for some other 1-on-1s in today's session.
-Linebacker Jack Gibbens made a heck of a play to break up a pass intended for Spears.
-Defensive back Anthony Kendall had a nice breakup.
-Kicker Trey Wolff was 5-of-6 on the day, making kicks of 30, 33, 42, 49 and 53 yards, with a miss from 49. He's now 19-of-20 in camp. Kicker Caleb Shudak was also 5-of-6, with his miss coming from 38 yards, and he's now 11-of-12 in camp.
-Tight end Josh Whyle did not practice once again on Saturday.
-Offensive lineman Jamarco Jones, who missed practice on Friday, was back on the practice field on Saturday.
-Defensive lineman Tyler Shelvin, who left early with a trainer on Friday, was back at practice on Saturday.
-Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk was on hand for today's practice, along with Kenneth S. Adams IV from the ownership group. In fact, here's a picture below of them posing for a picture with former Oilers/Titans Brad Hopkins and Blaine Bishop.
-Former Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, now with NFL Network, was on hand for today's practice.
Next open practice: Monday, 9:30-11:15 a.m.