NASHVILLE, Tenn.— The Titans are scheduled to begin training camp this week at Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville. Rookies and veterans report to camp on Thursday, July 30, and will practice for the first time the next day under the direction of head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Fans of the Titans are invited to watch nine total training camp practices free of charge, beginning with the July 31 workout at 9:20 a.m. CDT. The remaining practices that are open to the public are scheduled for Aug. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 11, 12 and 16. Training camp is the only time of the year that practices are open to the general public.
Free parking for training camp is available directly across the street from Saint Thomas Sports Park (460 Great Circle Road) at the CVS/Caremark corporate offices. Security is present to assist in crossing the street before, during and after practice.
Once inside the gates of the Titans complex, visitors can observe from the perimeter of the practice field, but onlookers should be prepared to stand in typical Middle Tennessee summer heat for the duration of their visit, as shade and seating are very limited.
A Titans Locker Room merchandise trailer is set up next to the practice field selling a wide selection of Titans apparel and even game-issued items. Cold non-alcoholic beverages also will be available to purchase.
On Monday, Aug. 3, fans are invited to the annual Academy Sports + Outdoors Night at Titans Training Camp. Spectators should arrive early for the scheduled 6:50 p.m. practice for giveaways and chances to win special prizes.
For an up-to-date camp schedule, fans can call the team's training camp hotline at (615) 565-4190, or they can go to the team's official website, TitansOnline.com/TrainingCamp.
Titans Online is adding extensively to its camp coverage this season. Earlier in July, the team hired Jim Wyatt as senior writer and editor of the website. A Nashville native, Wyatt began covering the Titans as a writer for The Tennessean in 1999 and became the full-time beat writer in 2001. He has been named Tennessee Sportswriter of the Year six times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and twice has been named as one of the top beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
Additionally, Titans Online and its accompanying mobile app will have a live broadcast following every training camp practice, giving viewers immediate updates on the news of the day. The "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith, broadcast coordinator Amie Wells and Wyatt will contribute to the daily camp shows, in addition other special guests.
Fans can follow the Titans through camp on the club's social media platforms, including Facebook (facebook.com/titans), Twitter (@Titans), Instagram (instagram.com/tennesseetitans) and Google([plus.google.com/ Titans](https://plus.google.com/ Titans/)). Users are encouraged to use the hashtag #TitansCamp to participate in ongoing conversations from training camp.
MARIOTA BEGINS FIRST TRAINING CAMP
Players return to Saint Thomas Sports Park this week after a long, NFL-mandated break. The offseason program culminated with a June 16-18 minicamp, ending a nine-week training program that set the tone for 2015.
When Titans players take the field for practice, no player is expected to garner more attention from the fans and media than quarterback Marcus Mariota, who begins his first NFL training camp. The rookie signal caller was the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, following a historic career at the University of Oregon. He became the highest drafted quarterback in Titans/Oilers history.
At Oregon, Mariota broke nearly every major passing record for the school, totaling 10,796 career passing yards and 105 touchdown passes. The three-time All-Pac-12 selection started every game over his three collegiate seasons and completed at least one touchdown pass in every game. He is one of four players in FBS history to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards (2,237) in a career, joining Dan LeFevour, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick.
In his final season with the Ducks, Mariota won the Heisman Trophy as college football's best player and led his team to the College Football Playoff Championship Game. He passed for 4,454 yards with 42 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. He also rushed for 770 yards and 15 touchdowns and even caught a touchdown pass. His 58 total touchdowns in a season (passing, rushing and receiving) shattered the previous Pac-12 record of 41 (Matt Barkley, 2011).
If Mariota wins the starting job during training camp, he would become the first player in franchise history to open his rookie season as the first-string quarterback. He was 36-5 as a starter in college.
FROM 90 PLAYERS TO 53 ON THE FINAL ROSTER
Little time separates the launch of training camp from the start of the preseason. On Friday, Aug. 14, exactly two weeks from the first practice, Tennessee plays its first of four preseason games, visiting the Atlanta Falcons. Furthermore, the Titans have a mere 44 days from the outset of camp until their regular season schedule kicks off Sept. 13 at Tampa Bay versus the Buccaneers.
In the meantime, work remains to determine who will make up the final roster of 53 players. Those decisions come primarily in two waves: first on Sept. 1, when the roster is pared from 90 to 75, and second on Sept. 5, when final cuts are made. A 10-member practice squad may be formed as early as Sept. 6.
Directing the team's personnel decisions is Ruston Webster, who is in his fourth year as executive vice president/general manager after serving two seasons as vice president of player personnel. He enters his 28th NFL season, which also includes 18 years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and four years with the Seattle Seahawks.
In addition to drafting Mariota, Webster and his staff led the acquisition of several more players who could figure prominently in the team's plans in 2015, beginning with free agency in March.
First, the team moved to re-sign a number of key contributors from the 2014 roster. Within the first two weeks of the new league year, six free agents agreed to come back to the team: punter Brett Kern, kicker Ryan Succop, long snapper Beau Brinkley, defensive lineman Karl Klug, outside linebacker Derrick Morgan and tackle Byron Stingily.
Furthermore, Webster helped negotiate deals for the following free agents, all of whom are expected to compete for extensive playing time: Buffalo safety Da'Norris Searcy, Atlanta wide receiver Harry Douglas, Washington outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, San Francisco cornerback Perrish Cox, Kansas City tight end Anthony Fasano, Carolina tackle Byron Bell and Indianapolis wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
In May, it was time to turn to the draft. Mariota was only the first of nine total picks, including seven draftees on the offensive side of the ball. The others were second-round wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (Oklahoma), third-round offensive lineman Jeremiah Poutasi (Utah), fourth-round fullback Jalson Fowler (Alabama), fifth-round running back David Cobb (Minnesota), sixth-round center Andy Gallik (Boston College) and seventh-round wide receiver Tre McBride (William & Mary). Defensively, the Titans selected fourth-round defensive lineman Angelo Blackson (Auburn) and sixth-round outside linebacker Deiontrez Mount (Louisville).
With the latest additions this year, Webster's stamp is firmly on the framework of the organization. Only eight players on the training camp roster were brought aboard before Webster was promoted in 2012.
WHISENHUNT'S SECOND YEAR
Whisenhunt commands the Titans for the second time in 2015. He became the 17th head coach in franchise history and the third in the "Titans era" in 2014. The Augusta, Ga., native owns 18 years of NFL experience as a coach, seven seasons as a head coach and nine NFL campaigns as a player.
His coaching staff is comprised of 21 assistants, and 19 return from 2014, with the lone exceptions being assistant head coach/defense Dick LeBeau and assistant wide receivers coach Jason Tucker. Another significant coaching move was made from within the staff early in 2015, when tight ends coach Mike Mularkey added the title of assistant head coach. Mularkey will increase his involvement with the run game this season.
LeBeau brings 56 years of NFL experience as a player and coach to Tennessee. A 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, he spent 13 total seasons (1995-96, 2004-14) as the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the "zone blitz" architect managing the Pittsburgh defense, the unit finished among the top-five in total defense 10 times and ranked first overall five times. Also in those 13 seasons, Pittsburgh won four AFC Championships, two Super Bowls and advanced to the playoffs on nine occasions.
LeBeau played his entire 14-year career (1959-72) as a defensive back with the Detroit Lions. He then ventured into coaching, spending time with the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and Steelers. During part of his time with the Bengals, he spent three seasons (2000-02) as head coach.
With the Titans, LeBeau joins forces with defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who was one of Whisenhunt's first hires during the 2014 offseason. The duo has spent 18 combined seasons together with LeBeau as coach and Horton as a player or coach.