NASHVILLE, Tenn. — **When the Titans reported for the start of the offseason program back in April, Titans coach Mike Mularkey had progress on his mind.
Nearly two months – and 10 days of organized team activities – later, he's pleased.
"We started strong, stayed strong and finished up the same way,'' Mularkey said. "(I'm) really pleased."
But the Titans aren't quite done yet.
This week, the team caps off its offseason work with a mandatory minicamp, which begins on Tuesday and runs through Thursday at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Then players won't be back until training camp at the end of July.
"The intent when we came back (in April) was to see if we could get better, all of us, coaches included,'' Mularkey said as the Titans wrapped up OTAs. "Every player, each position, each phase (we wanted to get better), and I feel like we've done that. They've certainly worked hard. This has not been a group that's had to be pushed very hard by coaches or myself. It's been a group that's come out here and worked every day with the intent to get better and I think we are a better football team.
"We are better now than we were a year ago at this time and I am hoping we are better than we were when we ended the season. So that's a good sign of the dedication and focus."
During the course of the offseason, new veteran free agents on both sides of the ball blended in with their new teammates. Draft picks joined in later, and in the past few weeks first-round pick Corey Davis has shown impressive progress. Mularkey estimated the receiver took part in 40-50 team snaps in OTAs as he worked his way back from an ankle injury, and he said he should be good to go for minicamp.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, working his way back from last year's surgery on a fractured fibula, took part in all 10 OTAs.
"With the limited snaps (I'm pleased), and when he's had a chance to be out there he's been (good),'' Mularkey said of Mariota. "(We had red zone period in the final OTA) and it was not good for our defense but it was really good example of how far he's come. He's doing very well for what he is allowed to do."
The offseason has included a few setbacks.
Receiver Tajae Sharpe (foot) and back-up quarterback Matt Cassel (thumb) suffered injuries, but they're expected back for training camp. Running back DeMarco Murray had surgery last week to repair a lingering hand issue. Meanwhile, linebacker Kevin Dodd (foot), and defensive linemen Karl Klug (Achilles) and Sylvester
Williams (ankle) were either out or limited in work as well. Mularkey sounded optimistic about them being ready for training camp.
So what's on the horizon for this week during minicamp?
For starters, Mularkey said coaches will have more time with the players. The minicamp will provide one final chance to improve before things really get serious in training camp.
"We have more time in the building with them (this week)," Mularkey said. "We can have them for 10 hours instead of six hours, there will be more meeting time. We can have 3 ½ hours of on-field time, so the fast practice will be two hours, they will have more time after practice. And we'll have an hour walk-through. So there is more time on the field, there is more time in the classroom.
"… We want to finish strong."
Titans players take the field for Day 10 of the team's 2017 OTAs at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)