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Mike Evans provided truer test of Titans' secondary

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Matt LaFleur recently spoke of how if you try to see everything, you can wind up seeing nothing.

I’ve found that to be the case in joint practices, where the Titans’ offense and defense work separate of each other. And so Wednesday with the Buccaneers joining the Titans, I decided to stick with the defense.IMG 3719

And the most striking thing about the defense was, on some plays, no matter how well a very good group of defensive backs played, there was no stopping Mike Evans.

The 6-foot-5, 231-pound smooth-moving receiver is unlike anything the Titans see daily in practice and the type of dominant receiver the franchise has been searching for, without success, since it moved to Tennessee.

During one-on-ones he was doing things like this:

And this, which is just filthy:

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Titans started well with screens, but blockers can do far better

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans had success with their screen game in their Thursday night preseason opener.

But the bulk of the gains came very late in the game with third stringers against third stringers. And a close look at the six screens shows there is still plenty of work to do on the plays.IMG 3641

Mike Vrabel counting the screen game as a strength coming back from Green Bay. The Titans connected on six of six attempts for 57 yards. But there were times the linemen who effectively got out in front of the play didn’t really manage to line up to make a block.

“That's something we have to be able to take advantage of those kinds of easy access throws,” he said. “Guys were hustling. We missed a couple cuts, but then, a lot of times, we'd pick up 17 or 18 yards on a six-yard pass. That's a good deal. Guys were hustling sometimes.

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My 53-man roster three weeks into Titans' camp (with Jon Robinson's thoughts)

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Just short of three weeks into camp, here’s a look at how I think the 53-man roster would currently shake out.

There is a great deal of time before rosters are cut to 53 on Sept. 1.

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When Jon Robinson sat with us on The Midday 180 for an hour on Tuesday, I put this roster down at his seat with a pen and told him to feel free to annotate it during our commercial breaks.

See below for what he gave me back.

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Corey Davis understands Mike Vrabel limiting him based on workload, but wants to grind

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Corey Davis trusts that Mike Vrabel and the Titans’ coaches are looking out for his best interests.

That doesn’t mean he has to like it when they hold him back from practicing or playing.

Davis has missed three days of practices and the Titans' first preseason game. We know the first day was for rest. The second two and the game could have been related to some sort of injury, we don’t know because the team doesn’t talk about injuries.

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Davis was back in action Saturday, Sunday and Monday, making a big 60-yard touchdown catch on a third-down pass thrown from Marcus Mariota that beat Malcolm Butler.

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Sorting through a Titans' practice with Dave McGinnis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sunday I watched the Titans practice with former NFL coach Dave McGinnis, who’s heading into his second year as the color analyst for Titans Radio.

Here are the highlights of the things he pointed out along the way.

Mugging the A gaps – McGinnis watches the early walk-through before stretch. It’s typically corrections from the most recent game or what was installed the night before.

This time it was backers joining defensive linemen inside and putting pre-snap thoughts into the heads of the guards and center. Would more than one defender try to fight through the gap between the center and guard, and if not who would drop off?

That led us to discuss Jurrell Casey’s permanent move to the 3-technique spot. Casey told me Saturday that he won’t be bouncing around to different spots on the line.McGinnis

He’ll always be over the outside shoulder of a guard, he just may flip from side to side. McGinnis said that is the hardest spot to double team, as the tackle typically has a rusher to his outside, and the center is on the other side of where Casey will initially attack the guard.

Casey has great lower-body flexibility which most guards can’t match, and that gives him a chance at immediate pressure.

Bogeys: Throughout practice, McGinnis pointed out bogeys by the defensive backs, pre-snap looks converting into something different to complicate reads for quarterbacks and their targets. He said it’s always been a strength of Dean Pees defenses.

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pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Our very first indication of what the Titans defense would be under Mike Vrabel was "front multiplicity and coverage consistency."

But we learned one key piece of that front will be planted in one spot doing his thing, not moving around as he did in the past.IMG 3589 1

Jurrell Casey made a surprise visit to our Facebook Live/ Periscope Saturday afternoon and it came up in our short discussion.

I asked him about his personal goals for the season.

"I've got to get back to double-digit (sacks)," he said. "I'm an all-time 3-technique from here on out, so I've just got to get back to it. Last year I was everywhere. I played 3-technique, 5-technique, played 6, played 4i. This year I can play my ground, play what I am going to do."

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Fruitlessly trying to learn why we can't even have a hint of what's wrong with Rashaan Evans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Whether you’re a cranky reporter like me or a fan completely bought into the new Titans’ regime, it’s ridiculous that we haven’t seen or heard anything about Rashaan Evans since he left the field injured on July 28thIMG 3586 4

Mike Vrabel has assumed total control on injury information and everyone is scared to death of him on it: Players, agents, coaches, families and most o the press. It’s an impressive seal of the injury lid, hard to accomplish in the midst of how virtually everything gets out.

I have not been on a mission to find it out. Generally speaking, I concede and have moved on. With a brief break from that Saturday, I guess.

After this long with Evans, it’s a disservice to him – as people start to speculate he’s soft – and a disservice to fans – to whom he was marketed as a big addition to and solution for the defense.

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By BLAKE BEDDINGFIELD, special contributor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans opening drive for a touchdown was just what the team had hoped for in its preseason opener in Green Bay.

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A big third-down conversion kept the drive alive.  Even though on that play Marcus Mariota missed a crossing Taywan Taylor who was running free and open but chose to make a tough throw to Nick Williams.

The completion to Williams did keep the drive alive and led to a score.  the first drive of the game: Josh Kline missed his run block on the first play of the game and Quinton Spain was beaten on an inside run with the ball inside the 5-yard line; Dion Lewis had a very good blitz pickup on the touchdown pass to Darius Jennings; Marcus Mariota escaped too quickly twice from the pocket for limited gains; Derrick Henry ran well, looked smooth and powerful; Taywan Taylor was knocked off balance on a fade route in the red-zone by the contact from press coverage from rookie cornerback Josh Jackson. 

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