NASHVILLE – Titans right tackle Jack Conklin began training camp with something to prove – to himself, and to outsiders.
"I think every season as a pro you have to come out and prove it, especially after last year when personally I don't think I played nearly as well as I need to," Conklin said on Tuesday. "I think this year is a huge year, and I have a huge opportunity to play hard and help this team be very good."
Closing in on four weeks later, Conklin feels like he's mentally and physically ready to go for the regular season.
Conklin, who missed all the team's offseason work while recovering from a knee injury, said he's felt a lot looser and more athletic in practices.
Conklin started nine games for the Titans in 2018 – he was inactive for the first four games while recovering from the torn ACL he suffered at the end of the 2017 season, and then he missed the final three games in 2018 after getting injured again in December, which forced him to Injured Reserve.
Conklin has played in 41 games in his first three NFL seasons, including starts in all 16 games in each of his first two NFL seasons.
"We still have two preseason games and a couple of weeks to perfect some more things," said Conklin, an All-Pro in his rookie season in 2016. "But I am feeling confident, I am feeling good and I am looking forward to getting out there against Pittsburgh to get some more work in."
The Tennessee Titans practice on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donald Page)
The Titans signed former University of Tennessee linebacker Quart'e Sapp on Monday morning, and he was on the field the same day. He just came off the practice field Tuesday on his second day of practice.
Sapp is in catch-up mode, but he's not making any excuses. The Titans currently have 90 players on their roster and the team will have to trim to 53 by August 31. So Sapp has to make a good impression in a hurry.
"Obviously I have been ready, waiting for a call," Sapp said. "Now I just have to get in the playbook, and there's no excuses. No excuses to be out of shape or anything like that. At this point, it is really on me."
Sapp said he was washing his dog, a Great Dane, back in Florida when he got the call from the Titans.
Sapp took part in the team's rookie minicamp in May, but wasn't immediately signed. He worked out again last week for the Titans before being signed.
Sapp (6-2, 223) played in 27 games for the Volunteers, and he recorded 111 stops during his collegiate career. He played in a combined 17 games and had 104 total tackles and two pass breakups in his last two seasons with the Vols. He had four 10-tackle performances against SEC teams.
"I am really excited," Sapp said. "I haven't put on pads since last season, so I am just ready to play football."
Chesney Watches Practice
Country music star Kenny Chesney watched the Titans practice on Tuesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Chesney chatted with Titans General Manager Jon Robinson during the early portion of practice. When WRs and DBs worked in one on one drills later in practice, Chesney caught a deflected pass in the air.
"He's a pretty friendly guy from what I can tell, and likes being around football," said Conklin, who said he's seen Chesney around the facility before.
"The country music fans know who he is, and it's cool to see a guy like that in person. He has some fire to him obviously – you can see it on stage. It's pretty cool to have a guy like that around."
Linebacker Harold Landry, receiver Corey Davis, tight end Delanie Walker, running back Dalyn Dawkins, safety Dane Cruikshank, running back David Fluellen and guard Nate Davis did not practice on Tuesday.
Running back Derrick Henry and tight end Jonnu Smith practiced for the second straight day.