NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans just wrapped up practice on Thursday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Here's a look at what stood out …
• The Titans expect running back Derrick Henry to make an impact this fall, and he made a huge one on Thursday. After busting through a hole, Henry lowered his shoulder and collided with linebacker Nate Palmer. The impact sent Palmer flying back, and possibly broke a few windows across the lake in MetroCenter.
"That's a real play,'' coach Mike Mularkey said. "Some of the things he did out here with some of the cuts, where he broke it to the outside, he had speed to get away from some of our outside guys, which is good to see."
• Quarterback Marcus Mariota connected with receiver Rishard Matthews on several completions. Cornerback Perrish Cox made a heads-up play at the end of one completion, however, by knocking the ball loose downfield.
• Linebacker Wesley Woodyard made a nice breakup on a ball intended for tight end Jerome Cunningham.
• Back-up quarterback Matt Cassel connected with fullback Jalston Fowler and receiver Andrew Turzilli for touchdowns in a red zone period.
• Linebacker Justin Staples made a nice breakup on a ball intended for receiver Justin Hunter.
• Running back Bishop Sankey got extra work in Thursday's session, and made some nice runs. A story on him is coming soon here at TitansOnline.com
Receiver Kendall Wright missed practice again on Thursday, and isn't expected to return to practice until later this month because of a hamstring injury.
Wright has caught passes from a JUGS machine before practices this week, but coaches and trainers will be patient with him in his recovery.
Wright said he's champing at the bit to return.
"I am moving in the right direction, and I am getting better,'' Wright said. "I don't want to be out there early before I am supposed to be out there, and make it worse. So I am just doing what I have to do in treatment to get back out there.
"I want to be out there getting some of this work in instead of just doing the ropes and abs every day. I want to catch passes from the quarterbacks and go grind with the other receivers. … I am definitely getting a lot of mental reps and taking good notes in the meetings. I'll be ready to go when it's time."
First two plays to benefit charity
The first two plays on Saturday night against the Chargers won't be called by offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie or Mularkey.
The Titans raised $20,000 for charity by auctioning off the first two plays to a pair of bidders – each one for $10,000.
Mularkey said he joined Titans general manager Jon Robinson at Kevin Carter's Waiting For Wishes Celebrity Waiters' Dinner, which benefits the Kevin Carter Foundation and Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee.
"I did it in Atlanta," Mularkey said. "I offered the first play of the preseason game up for auction. Let somebody come in here, see how we function, how everything operates here, and really go through a game plan with them, bring them into the offensive room where all of our coaches were, which they did yesterday, and the board is up for the Chargers, and we talked through a lot of the plays that are up there and give them the ability to call the first play."
Mularkey said the bidding in Atlanta raised $500.
"And I thought, 'What a great thing. It's an easy thing, it's an easy play, these guys will respond to the play, whatever it is," Mularkey said.
"This got out of hand and went for $20,000. So two groups bid $10,000 each to call the first two plays of the game. And I thought for the first preseason game, the first two plays, you're going to get five kids that are going to get wishes for life. It was pretty good. It was a really special night."
I asked Mularkey if fans should expect to see a triple reverse or Statue of Liberty play.
Mularkey laughed, and said one of the bidders asked a pretty good question:
"If the other team knows that we're picking the play, are they going to expect something like a gadget? That's a good question," Mularkey said. "Now you understand what we deal with every Tuesday when we're in here for 14 hours."
Mularkey said the two plays have been called, and he said he thinks they'll work.
Mularkey had the team go through an unscripted practice on Thursday, and he was pleased with how the players and coaches responded.
"It was completed unscripted practice,'' Mularkey said. "Coaches had no idea what the periods were, there were no plays scripted. I screamed every down-and-distance to the coordinators, so they had to react like they do in games, and they had to get their personnel groupings in there. We had to match them defensively the entire practice.
"… We got off the field five minutes earlier than we normally do, and there wasn't a lot of confusion. This was a full practice of sudden change and I was really pleased with it."
Cornerback Cody Riggs (head), linebacker Aaron Wallace (ankle), offensive lineman Josue Matias (patella tendinitis) and linebacker Kevin Dodd (foot) did not practice on Thursday, and they're not expected to play on Saturday.
Running back Dexter McCluster was excused again for personal reasons, but he's expected back today.
• Mularkey said the starters will play in the first quarter against the Chargers, and then players will be rotated in and out. Veterans like running back DeMarco Murray and receiver Andre Johnson are among those who will have limited reps.
• Cox is the leader to claim the outside cornerback spot, Mularkey said.
• Wallace was out of a walking boot on Thursday.
• Today's session was closed to fans.
Titans players take the field for Day 11 of training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)