NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** When Ken Whisenhunt announced the Titans had an early morning walkthrough on Wednesday, none of the players were particularly thrilled. Not only was it out of the norm schedule-wise, few would admit to be excited over an early morning wakeup call.
Regardless of their suspicions, the team took the field at Saint Thomas Sports Park dressed and ready to hit the field at 9 a.m. just as they were told. Expectations worsened when Whisenhunt barked at them to bring it in.
"The way he said it was one of those – where you're upstairs playing and your father gets home and he finally found the report card you've been hiding from him," said Nate Washington as if he were speaking from experience. "He said 'Everybody bring it in' and his voice and face were so serious I had to tell him he had a good poker face."
Justin Hunter agreed with Washington's assessment of Whisenhunt's tone.
"We thought we were in trouble at first," Hunter admitted. "He said we had 15 minutes, everyone thought we had some kind of punishment like running or something."
There was no trouble -- and no running -- to the pleasant surprise of everyone on the team.
"We had a couple of movies they got a choice to pick from," said Whisenhunt. "It was a break. They've worked hard. It was a little reward for their work in camp. It was probably the first time I've ever been able to surprise them the way we did. Little bit of a team bonding kind of thing, that's an important piece of it.
"Didn't know for sure if we were going to do it, but we had a good practice yesterday, and I felt like it was warranted," Whisenhunt continued.
The brief escape from the rigors of the preseason wasn't taken for granted by anyone in the locker room.
"It was like opening gifts on Christmas morning," Washington said. "It was a good ordeal for all of our guys to give ourselves a little break from football and still be with our brothers. A lot of guys enjoyed it."
Everyone appreciated the coaching staff taking note of the effort level the past few weeks.
"It was a great surprise," added defensive lineman Jurrell Casey. "We've been working hard and for him to reward us with something like that shows us his appreciation."
Whisenhunt said his players couldn't have been more excited to learn the concession stand was free for the taking.
"I really wish you could have seen the joy on their faces when they knew they were going to a movie, so I think they enjoyed being able to go to the concessions stand and get some candy," said Whisenhunt.
Whisenhunt also joked that Chance Warmack was the one exception to the open candy selection.
"I didn't touch the candy," said a smiling Warmack. "That's bad. That's the bad stuff. I wanted it but I didn't."
Casey is another player who was on a strict diet during the offseason, and despite the temptation, he abstained from candy as well.
"I had some popcorn and a hot dog so I took advantage of it, but no candy," said Casey who has a well-documented affinity for gummy worms. "No gummies for me. I wanted it so bad but I didn't do it."
Hunter's approach to the Titans dietary cheat day was far different.
"We had unlimited snacks to go through, we had everything we wanted and more," Hunter said. "I cheated my tail off man, I had everything – hot dogs, popcorn, candy."
Some guys used the field trip as nap time. Others weren't as fortunate.
"I didn't fall asleep during my movie. I couldn't," Washington joked, "I had coach [Shawn] Jefferson sitting next to me. As you can tell, it doesn't stop on the field, his loud mouth was talking during the whole movie."
Jokes aside, everyone took advantage and appreciated today's momentary escape from camp. Now the focus continues towards the Titans' first road game of the preseason – a Friday matchup with the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.
"I think it's good because the expectations are so stern right now," said Washington. "To let us know that we might not be the best at accomplishing everything, but he appreciates our hard work. It makes it easy for you to go out and work even harder. A lot of guys needed this."