NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans wrapped up their second round of organized team activities this week.
The team practiced three times at Saint Thomas Sports Park, and now six of the 10 OTAs are in the books. Four more OTAs are scheduled for next week, before a three-day minicamp the following week.
Here's a look at six things that stood out this week:
It's not ideal. Starter Marcus Mariota is still working his way back from last year's injury, and now back-up Matt Cassel is on the shelf because of a thumb injury that required surgery. But it's not all doom and gloom here. Mariota has shown steady improvement in practices, and quarterback Alex Tanney will benefit from the extra work with the 1s. Tanney has looked good, and the experience will help him moving forward.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey called Wednesday Smith's best day in OTAs, and it was part of solid week for the third round pick from Florida International. Smith is a big and physical tight end who looks like a natural catching the football. He can run. Something else I like about Smith is his confidence. He's been respectful to the veterans around him, but there's no disguising the fact he believes he belongs and plans to prove it.
Henry showed up for the offseason program last month in great shape, and he's been impressive in practices. While veteran DeMarco Murray remains the team's top back, Henry is picking up momentum for himself heading into Year 2. He showed some burst when he got into the open field on several occasions, and his work has earned him some nice reviews from his coaches.
I feel like I'm always writing about Taywan Taylor, and maybe it's because the receiver from Western Kentucky is always making plays. Taylor has put together two really nice weeks in OTAs, and he looks very comfortable for a rookie. There's good news surrounding first-round pick Corey Davis as well. He's done more in practices while working his way back from an ankle injury, and he could be turned loose for more in the near future.
Linebacker Nate Palmer has been noticeable in workouts this offseason. In practices, he looks lighter, and faster. He's regularly been around the football. A key special teams performer last season, the former Packers linebacker is making a case to be more involved in the defense moving forward. Rookie linebacker Jayon Brown has gotten my attention as well because of his speed.
The ageless Dick LeBeau
LeBeau is back for another season (his 59th in the NFL as a player or coach), and the defensive coordinator is still going strong. LeBeau is a real gem, and if you don't believe it just ask his pupils. During the stretch period before each session this week I observed him spending time with not only Pro Bowlers, but some guys who probably won't be on the 53-man roster come September. He's a teacher, and an encourager, who loves the game, and people.
Titans players take the field for Day 6 of the team's 2017 OTAs at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones)