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Titans QB Ryan Tannehill Excited About His Receivers, and the Offense's Potential in 2021


NASHVILLE – When Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill steps on the practice field, he's surrounded by talent.

With seven-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones on one side, and receiver A.J. Brown, who just made his first Pro Bowl after his second straight 1,000-yard season, on the other, the Titans have one of the NFL's best tandems at receiver.

Behind Tannehill is running back Derrick Henry, the NFL's leading rusher the past two seasons who ran for 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns a year ago. In front of him is an offensive line that welcomed left tackle Taylor Lewan back to practice on Wednesday.

There's a reason why the Titans, who finished second in the NFL in offense a year ago while averaging 30.7 points per game, enter training camp with confidence.

But Tannehill knows the offense is a work in progress, and that work started on Wednesday.

"I am excited to get back to work," Tannehill said after the first practice of camp. "To be able to play some real football again, 11-on-11, and compete, it feels good. … It feels good to go out and play football. We have some familiar faces around here, and have added some new pieces, so I am excited about that.

"But we have a lot of work to do, and nothing is going to happen before we put the work in."

Tannehill, heading into his 10th NFL season, threw for 3,819 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2020, with seven interceptions.

This offseason, Todd Downing replaced Arthur Smith as the team's new offensive coordinator, after Smith took over as head coach of the Falcons. The team added Jones in June, and for the first time this offseason, Brown was out there with him after missing OTAs and the team's minicamp while recovering from knee surgeries.

Brown made an impact on Day 1 of practice on Wednesday, as Tannehill connected with him again and again.

"It is great to have A.J. back out here," Tannehill said. "I love throwing the ball to A.J., and love to be on the same side of the ball as him. He is a great dude and a great football player. Obviously, he is out here working, doing some new things, and I am excited about that. He made a couple of plays today, and he looked good doing it. So, it is all good."

Tannehill knows the competition at receiver, where veteran Josh Reynolds joined draft picks Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath this offseason, will be fierce.

All three made plays in Wednesday's session, and this offseason receivers like Chester Rogers and Marcus Johnson also surged alongside veteran Cameron Batson. On Wednesday, Titans coach Mike Vrabel praised another one of the team's young receivers in Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

"It's a stacked receiver room – there's no doubt about it," Tannehill said. "It's going to be a big competition throughout this training camp, to see who comes out of there. I think that's a nod to (GM) Jon Robinson and Vrabel for being able to put that room together, and that competition in that room. It's obviously a big, strong, physical group. I am excited to have that competition in that room, and those guys will be able to help us throughout the year."

On Wednesday, as he spoke to reporters for the first time since June, Tannehill said he wants to do his part.

"I am going to go out and do the best I can each and every day to get better and lead this team to wins," he said.

Right now, the mission is to improve in camp, and to get ready for the season.

While he said the Titans are motivated by last year's early exit from the playoffs, the mindset now it to get ready to be a better team starting in Week One.

It's a whole new season.

"That's one of our keys to this training camp, is to build a team," Tannehill said. "We have a bunch of guys right now – it is not the same team as last year. It is a new team. So, we have to actually come together as a team and improve each and every day and compete.

"Getting that familiarity with coaching staff, with teammates who haven't been here before, getting everyone accustomed and up to speed with the way we do things and then holding that standard throughout training camp and throughout the season is going to be crucial. I am excited for that process."

See the Top Images from the Titans Training Camp Practice on Wednesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Donald Page)

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