Titans Ready for Ramped Up Competition in Joint Practices With the Buccaneers

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NASHVILLE – A year ago, Titans cornerback Elijah Molden had never been a part of joint practices in the NFL before the team traveled to Tampa to square off against the Buccaneers.

Looking back, it was a learning experience.

"I went back and watched those Tampa practices, and I was terrible. I was awful," Molden said this week, as the Titans prepare to face the Buccaneers in another round of joint practices, this time in Nashville. "But I think that is part of being a rookie. I think I came a long way, and the secondary has come a long way as well. We're going into our second game, and I think there is a lot to clean up. First and foremost, we need to get communication right, we all need to be on the same page. And that is when it starts to get fun."

It should be an action-packed week at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park, starting on Wednesday, when the Titans and Buccaneers square off in a pair of joint practices, ahead of their preseason game at Nissan Stadium on Saturday.

Molden, who was slowed earlier in camp with an injury, plans to take part.

"When new blood comes into the competition," he said, "it's ramped up and I don't want to miss work."

Other Titans are excited about the competition as well.

The Titans and Buccaneers will practice on Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 9:30 a.m. each day.

"Really looking forward to it," Titans receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine said. "It's always good to go against someone else. You get used to going against the same guys every day in practice. So, it will be good to get some new faces. We had them last year for joint practices, so we know what to expect, too."

Added guard Aaron Brewer: "Whenever you are going against someone of their caliber, even their defense as a whole – they have a great defense. Competing against them, and then the game, will make you better every time."

It remains to be seen exactly which players will be competing on each side, as some players will be held out.

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, for one, won't be taking part.

Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said on Tuesday receivers Mike Evans and Russell Gage won't be in Tennessee for joint practices either, but former Titans receiver Julio Jones, now with the Bucs, is expected to practice.

On Tuesday, Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin took part in 7-on-7s for the first time since undergoing ACL surgery, and he caught a pass from quarterback Blaine Gabbert, another former Titan, and ran it in for a touchdown.

Aside from Thursday's preseason opener at Baltimore, when most the Titans starters didn't play, the Titans have spent the past three weeks of training camp banging on one another.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said he's looking forward to the work, which should help with the evaluation process.

"I think going against some other players is going to be really good for all of us, especially the offensive and defensive linemen," Vrabel said. "Defensive backs covering new receivers and receivers trying to get open against new defensive backs. It's a great scheme that we're going against on both sides. This should be great work for us.

"I hope (the reps are) as competitive as we can, and I hope that we are able to focus on the things that we're trying to focus on, improve, play with our techniques, with our style, but also play smart, make sure that we're staying up and taking care of them. I would imagine that they would do the same for us."

Next week, the Arizona Cardinals will be in town for joint practices, ahead of preseason game No.3.

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