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Observations From Titans Training Camp on Thursday


NASHVILLE – The Titans took the field for their sixth open practice of training camp on Thursday at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Here's a look at what stood out:

-The Titans spent the first portion of practice in the pouring rain, before a lightning strike forced the team indoors.

-Things got feisty once again, and once again tackle Jamarco Jones was right in the middle of it. On a Malik Willis pitch to running back Jonathan Ward, Jones went full steam into the back of linebacker Chance Campbell, who was in a position to make the play. Upset defenders rushed to the scene, with linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair getting especially fired up. Coaches and teammates calmed Al-Shaair down, and at one point General Manager Ran Carthon talked to him. It resulted in another early exit for Jones, who was also dismissed from the practice field following an altercation with defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons on Tuesday. Titans Coach Mike Vrabel didn't like the block either. "We don't want to practice like that – it would be a penalty in a game," Vrabel said. "You have to know how to practice. We talk all the time about being competitive and going to that line, so we're not going to do anything that hurts the team. We don't want to see that." UPDATE: The Titans released Jones later on Thursday. CLICK HERE for that story.

-The early 1-on-1 were action-packed, but unfortunately were in a closed period so I couldn't film it. But cornerback Kristian Fulton had some good snaps as he continues his solid play. I also wrote the names of safety Kevin Byard, safety Amani Hooker and safety Mike Brown down for making nice defensive plays.

-Receiver Treylon Burks made a highlight-reel catch in these 1-on-1s, when he went up high to get the ball with defensive back Tre Avery defending. Kyle Philips, Chris Moore, Tyjae Spears, Racey McMath, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Hassan Haskins, Kearis Jackson, Tre'Shaun Harrison and Ward all made plays for the offense in this period. The shifty Philips got open for a pair of catches in this period.

-I thought the defense won the day on Thursday, as defenders got their hands on footballs throughout practices. The unit also rose to the occasion with some solid play in the two-minute periods at the end of practice.

-Quarterback Ryan Tannehill got off to a slow start, completing just 2 of his first 8 passes, although the defense deserves some credit for some of the incompletions. Tannehill got hot at the start of the two-minute period, completing three in a row to set the drive in motion. But Hooker nearly intercepted Tannehill at the end of the possession, and the defense held. Tannehill finished the day 8-of-16 in the 7-on-7 and team periods combined, and he's now 54-of-78 in 7-on-7 and team periods combined in camp.

-Tight end Chig Okonkwo caught what was arguably Tannehill's best throw of the day in a team red zone period. Okonkwo went up high in the corner of the end zone and came down with the ball. Okonkwo got up and spun the ball in celebration.

-All the quarterbacks were presented with the same scenario at the end of practice – 1:15 left, own 40-yard line, 1 time out left. The defense played tough, although Will Levis did connect with receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. for a score – after a defensive penalty extended the drive.

-Quarterback Malik Willis threw a bullet to receiver Chris Moore across the middle for a touchdown in a 7-on-7 red zone period, but he was high on a throw to Westbrook-Ikhine in the same period. Willis also threw a really nice ball to tight end Josh Whyle for a big gain in a team period, and he connected with Roberson for a score in a team red zone period. Willis started out his two-minute drive well, but ended it with interception, as he made an errant throw across his body as the clock was winding down. I doubt coaches will grade Willis too hard for it, because he was trying to make a play before time ran out. I charted Willis at 9-of-15 for the day, with the INT, and I have him at 36-of-60 with two INTs in six days of camp in 7-on-7 and team periods combined.

-It was defensive back Shyheim Carter who intercepted Willis in the two-minute, as he stepped in front of Moore to make the play at the five-yard line. Defensive teammates celebrated Carter after his play.

-Quarterback Will Levis Levis connected with tight end Kevin Rader for a touchdown in a 7-on-7 red zone period, and he found Ward open in the corner for a score in a team red zone period. In the late two-minute period, Levis connected with Racey McMath for a big gain, but his late pass to tight end Alize Mack was his best of the day. Then came the previously mentioned scoring toss to Roberson. I had Levis at 7-of-14 in 7-on-7s and team periods on Thursday, and I have him at 35-of-55 in the 7-on-7 and team periods so far in camp.

-Giving Alize Mack a little more attention here, because he deserves it. Mack went up high to make the catch downfield, with defenders on his hip, and he held on to the ball as he landed hard on the turf.

-It was a relatively quiet day for receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was targeted on a couple of potential scoring plays, but neither pass was really in his wheelhouse.

-I've mentioned Hooker a few times already. Hooker had a good day. Aside from the break-up and near INT, he was around the ball a lot.

-A nifty run by Spears in a red zone period resulted in a score.

-Linebacker Ben Niemann nearly intercepted Levis in the late two-minute period.

-Defensive back Steven Jones Jr. had a nice breakup in practice.

-Westbrook-Ikhine had a bad drop on a strike from Willis that should've been a score in a team red zone period.

-Defensive back Chris Jackson had a nice pass breakup in the late two-minute period.

-Defensive back Alonzo Davis has a nice breakup of a Levis pass intended for Colton Dowell in a team period.

-In a red zone period, Al-Shaair had a nice breakup on a Tannehill pass to Spears. I've been noticing Al-Shaair more and more of late. Al-Shaair also broke up a pass intended for tight end Trevon Wesco.

-Linebacker Otis Reese IV nearly came up with an interception in 7-on-7s, and he blew up a reverse by being in the right spot. It was also good day for Otis.

-Outside linebacker Thomas Rush made a nice defensive breakup in 7-on-7s.

-Outside linebacker Rashad Weaver had a nice stop on a Derrick Henry run.

-Kicker Caleb Shudak was a perfect 9-of-9 in Thursday's session, and he's now 27-of-29 in camp. Kicker Trey Wolff, who is 26-of-28 in camp, did not kick in Thursday's team period.

-Center Jimmy Murray, signed on Wednesday, was on the practice field on Thursday in No. 64.

-Linebacker Luke Gifford returned to practice.

-Offensive lineman Corey Levin did not practice again on Thursday.

-Former Titans executive Steve Underwood was on hand for today's practice.

-Metro Nashville Chief of Police John Drake was on hand for today's practice.

-Nashville sheriff Daron Hall was on hand for today's practice.

-Several staff members from The Covenant School were on hand for today's practice.

-Father Ed Steiner, a Roman Catholic priest who was one of my teachers at Father Ryan High School back in the day, was on hand for today's practice. Because of his presence, I was on my best behavior.

Next open practice: Friday, 9:15-11:15 a.m.

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