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Observations From Wednesday's Titans Practice vs the Buccaneers


TAMPA – The Titans practiced against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers here on Wednesday.

Here's a look at what stood out on the first of two days of joint practices:

-The Titans loaded into seven buses and traveled from their hotel in downtown Tampa to the Buccaneers practice facility, which is located across the street from Raymond James Stadium. On the way to the practice, the buses passed a mural of Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

-While the Titans put on their pads, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians chatted while sitting on a golf cart before practice.

-A good number of Titans were held out of the session. Receiver Julio Jones, receiver A.J. Brown, guard Nate Davis, center Ben Jones, running back Darrynton Evans, safety Dane Cruikshank, kicker Tucker McCann, defensive lineman Denico Autry, safety Matthias Farley, and tight end Geoff Swaim all made the trip, but they didn't dress out for the practice and instead many of them worked on exercise bikes.

-Titans linebacker Monty Rice was injured during the practice, and after being helped to the sideline, he eventually was carted off the practice field.

-On the day, I thought the Titans defense held its own against the Buccaneers offense and quarterback Tom Brady. Yes, the Buccaneers made some plays, but so did the Titans, who picked off Brady three times in the session. Safety Amani Hooker, cornerback Elijah Molden and cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins all intercepted Brady. It was a continuation of what we've seen from practices in Tennessee, where the Titans defense recorded 17 picks in the first 14 practices of camp.

-The Titans made some plays on offense, but things were a little sporadic and inconsistent playing without receivers Brown and Jones, and running back Derrick Henry didn't seem to do a lot either. No picks from Tannehill on the day, which was a good sign considering the Titans created turnovers themselves.

-The two teams worked on their own on adjacent fields at the start, before working in 1-on-1s with WRs and defensive backs. I stood in the middle at the start, doing my best to watch both while taking notes.

-In the 1-on-1s with the Titans offense and the Buccaneers DBs, I saw receiver Josh Reynolds stumble on his first route, and then receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine got the ball knocked away because he didn't fight for it enough. It was a dreadful start. But the receivers, including Reynolds and Westbrook-Ikhine, came alive.

-Westbrook-Ikhine had one of the best days from the receiving corps, and it started in the 1-on-1s, when he beat Bucs cornerback Dee Delaney deep.

-With Jones and Brown not practicing, Reynolds also had a big day. He beat Bucs safety Lawrence White IV on a deep ball after a few nice routes earlier in the period. His biggest play of the day came later in a two-point try period. Keep reading…

-Chester Rogers, Cameron Batson and Racey McMath all had really nice catches in the one-on-ones. Rogers also had a drop, and he heard about it from Vrabel. Dez Fitzpatrick also had a catch, and a drop.

-The Titans secondary had their moments – good and bad – in the 1-on-1s against the Buccaneers offense.

-Rookie cornerback Elijah Molden made a really nice play when he stepped in front of a Buccaneers receiver to intercept Brady.

-Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown got open and beat Molden later in the drill, and yelled "This sh** is too easy" when he ran past Molden. Brown dropped a pass from Brady in the next period, and I saw him drop three passes on the day.

-Titans rookie cornerback Caleb Farley wasn't perfect, but he made some plays, one of his best a break-up on a Brady pass intended for receiver Mike Evans. Farley ran well with Evans, and got the ball out. But Farley struggled in coverage on a 20-yard completion from Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski, and he also got beat by Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin on another play in the 1-on-1s.

-Titans cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins was solid in the 1-on-1s, and he was good in the team period, which included his INT, as well.

-I thought Titans cornerback Kristian Fulton looked scrappy throughout. Yes, he gave up some completions. But Fulton also made some plays and showed some fight doing it.

-The Buccaneers made some plays on the Titans DBs in the 1-on-1s, including a deep ball to Cyril Grayson with Titans cornerback Breon Borders in coverage. Tampa Bay also dropped a lot of wide open passes.

-In a team period, Westbrook-Ikhine made another big play, getting open to catch a deep ball in between two Buccaneers. Westbook-Ikhine had two catches in this period.

-Titans safety Amani Hooker was around the ball plenty, and he made a nice play on a deep ball from Brady to Evans that fell incomplete.

-When the Titans punting unit worked on downing a ball near the goal line, receiver Fred Brown did a nice job batting the ball back for Borders to down Brett Kern's punt at the 2.

-The 7-on-7 periods were entertaining, as Hooker had a nice breakup, and so did Farley. Titans defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun also made a nice play.

-The Titans secondary got got in 7-on-7s on a Brady pass to Gronkowski, which generated a lot of cheers from the fans on hand. Gronk caught the ball in between Farley and Hooker.

-Brady connected with receiver Jaelon Darden on a few completions with Titans defending, and again, he might've done more damage if not for some Tampa Bay drops.

-In Tennessee's 7-on-7 period on offense, Tannehill connected with Rogers, receiver Mason Kinsey, tight end Jared Pinkney and Reynolds.

-It was a team period when Hooker got Brady on a throw across the middle. Molden and Jenkins also made nice plays in the period, when I really thought the defense held its own. At one point, defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons could be heard talking trash from a good 80 yards away. If there's going to be a scrap down here, my bet is Simmons will be in the middle of it.

-Linebacker Jayon Brown made two nice plays in pass coverage, both break-ups coming on passes intended for Gronkowski.

-In a red zone period, Tannehill and the offense got hot. Tannehill connected with Marcus Johnson for a score, and the fullback Khari Blasingame got open for a touchdown catch as well.

-Chester Rogers made one of the best catches of the day, in between two Tampa Bay defenders for a touchdown.

-Some pretty good action came late in a 2-minute period that Vrabel said was designed to be an "end of half" period. That's when Jenkins stepped up and intercepted a Brady pass intended for Gronkowski.

-Tannehill connected with Rogers on three straight completions in Tennessee's two-minute period, but things fizzled out with a sack and broken up pass.

-So, I mentioned the Reynolds catch. It came during a team (2-point play) period when he made a tough catch in between two Tampa Bay defenders. Reynolds got up and spun the football before a Tampa Bay defender kicked it away.

-We've all seen Tannehill fool defenders with the fake handoff, and he did it again in the 2-point play period, and he scooted around the left side for a touchdown.

-Brady connected with Brown for a score, with Fulton covering, in the 2-minute period and later Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert connected with receiver Tyler Johnson on a score, with Molden in coverage.

-Kicker Sam Ficken continues to kick the ball well. Ficker was 9-of-10 in Wednesday's practice, with makes of 30, 30, 30, 33, 35, 38, 39, 42, and 50, his only miss from 48. He's now 41-of-45 since joining the team earlier in camp.

-ESPN's Turron Davenport, one of a nice contingent of Nashville media making the trip, came prepared. Davenport brought sunflower seeds, and after finding out he wasn't allowed to spit the seed shells on the turf, he used a water bottle to collect the outside shells. Chomp, chomp. I'm giving Turron credit for getting the best video of the day, too, on Farley's previously mentioned play on Evans.

-In addition to Vrabel, Tannehill and Titans safety Kevin Byard talked to reporters after practice.

Next practice: Thursday in Tampa vs. the Buccaneers.

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