Titans Ready to Gauge Progress in Joint Practices With the Buccaneers


TAMPA – Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan paused earlier this week when asked if he's looking forward to going to Tampa.

"I guess the beach is down there," Lewan said with a smile.

The Titans, of course, aren't in Florida to soak up the sun.

It's a business trip, in football pads.

The team arrived in Tampa late Tuesday afternoon for joint practices against the Buccaneers on Wednesday and Thursday, ahead of preseason game No.2 at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday.

Lewan said he expects a "bloodbath", which is a safe way to describe how things often look when two NFL teams go head-to-head in joint practices three weeks into training camp.

After all, aside from Friday's preseason game at Atlanta, the Titans have spent the past three weeks banging on each other.

"Those guys, they're Super Bowl champions for a reason," Lewan said of the Buccaneers. "They're an extremely talented team everywhere, at every position. It's going to be a good time to go down there and gauge where we're all at and what we need to work out and rely on the things the coaches taught us and what we rely on."

The Titans initially planned to practice with the Buccaneers last year in training camp, but COVID-19 ruined those plans.

So Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians put the dates back on the calendar for this year, and the practices will kick off on Wednesday morning.

"I have a lot of respect for that football team," Vrabel said. "I mean, they are defending Super Bowl champs. Obviously very talented and well-coached. … Bruce is great to work with. We are excited to go down there and get a lot of work in, competitive work, but obviously taking care of each other also."

Vrabel said the practices will be scripted, and the teams will adjust things as needed from a health standpoint.

Arians said earlier in the week he doesn't anticipate quarterback Tom Brady or Tampa Bay's starters to play in the game on Saturday, which means Tennessee's most valuable work against the Buccaneers will likely come in the practices.

Vrabel hasn't indicated how much his front-liners will play, or if they'll play at all, in the preseason game. In the preseason opener, the Titans played back-ups most of the contest.

In the practices, the Titans defense will get a chance to work against Brady, and Tampa Bay's talented receivers, and that should be valuable work.

"He's a goat in the league, he knows everything, he's seen it all," Titans cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins said of Brady. "We just have to be on our Ps and Qs. We have to go out there and play fast, play hard.

"(It's all about) just getting better, technique, fundamentals. It will help me a lot (facing their receivers) – you have a tall guy, shifty guys. Such different techniques I have to use to get better every day… We are just going to keep working, preseason, regular season. We have to play fast and play hard."

For members of Tennessee's offense, the practices will allow them to go up against a really talented Tampa Bay defense.

On Wednesday morning, it's game on in the Florida heat.

"I excited to work with them," Titans tight end Anthony Firkser said." I know they are fast and physical guys, and it's going to be a good matchup. Our tight ends and backs are going to have to do a lot to work on technique to be able to get open.

"It's just exciting to compete against other guys. We've been going against our team for almost (three) weeks now, so it will be good to compete and be able to show everything we've worked for in training camp and assess than on another opponent."

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