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Pickers mailbag: How Titans matched up to the reputations that preceded them

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A final mailbag post before vacation.

If you missed the Periscope from this week, here it is for your convenience.

TitansSwordGlassNow to the best questions you offered.

PK: This is a good question but it doesn't come with the sort of surprising answers I was hoping for when I began to consider it.

You have a bit of a feel for high draft picks when their names or called, and for all of them shortly after they are drafted when you have a media conference call with them. I can't think of anyone who was a giant departure from the initial impression.

As for veteran newcomers...

Randy Moss was exactly what I expected. Intentionally difficult when being asked to be interviewed or while being asked questions. Perfectly nice in passing or other standard locker room interaction.

There were other free-agents who outlived their reputation.

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YAZOO PODCAST: A vision for the Titans' stadium of the future

YAZOO podcast stripeNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Diplomacy is not my thing.

I said that on The Midday 180 recently and one of you proposed it be a new site slogan and go on a T-shirt. I like it.

BlevinsPodcastIn our new podcast, we talk about the latest example of how I would have been a total failure at the State Department, I break down another cookie-cutter story at ESPN.com and we sort through what the Titans and the city should be thinking regarding a football stadium come 2028. 

Madison Blevins also tried (and failed) to make a case for having an interest in the royal wedding.

Part 1, like podcast versions of my public Periscope and Facebook Lives, is available through iTunes, here, or directly through the Vokal website, here. Feel free to hook us up with a rating and review on iTunes.

We always welcome your feedback.

If you're a member of the site, Part 1 and Part 2 are together, and all you have to do is head below the line. 

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Amy Adams Strunk remains a fan of Nissan Stadium, not pondering a new venue

mdi construction barNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A lot of Nashvillians and Middle Tennesseans ask me about Nissan Stadium and its future.

StadiumA surprisingly high share of people I interact with on the subject speak about their desire for a new modern marvel of a stadium, ideally with a retractable roof largely because it would almost certainly get Music City a Super Bowl.

I'm completely against a multi-billion dollar stadium, unless the Titans are buying, under any circumstance. A Super Bowl would be great, but it's hardly a sufficient tradeoff.

We see two retractable roof stadiums in the AFC South, and they are absolutely unneeded luxuries in Houston and Indianapolis. Nashville is a perfect city for outdoor football, on grass.

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A small example of Mike Vrabel allowing a good thought to trickle up from an assistant

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After the second of three weekend practices for his rookies, Mike Vrabel fielded a question about the anxieties of young players in such situations.IMG 8806

I was struck by one piece of his response on the topic.

Typically, things from strong-willed, alpha coaches – which is certainly what Vrabel appears to be in the early stages of his first head job – trickle down.

That coach would be the tone-setter and the message-sender, dispersing the key themes and expecting them to travel down the chain.

When I was at ESPN, bigger bosses would often deliver their message and instruct subordinates to “cascade” them to their people.

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Returning Preds can't ignore big issues that held them back

Party Fowl Online Ads 01 1By John Glennon, guest columnist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There's an understandable belief among Predators faithful that next season's team should be as good or better than this year's was.

But Predators players shouldn't let themselves believe that – not yet, anyway.PredsBricks

Because one of the few concerns they face is realizing that past achievements don't automatically guarantee future success.

It's one thing for fans to look ahead with optimism, based on the enviable way Predators general manager David Poile has constructed this club. Consider the following highlights:

  • Nineteen players from the 2016-17 Presidents' Trophy team that rang up a franchise-record 117 points are already under contract for next season, including the team's top 13 point producers and its starting goalie.
  • Three more players – goalie Juuse Saros, along with forwards Ryan Hartman and Miikka Salomaki – are merely restricted free agents, meaning the Predators retain their rights and will have them under contract for next season. So the only three players who for sure won't be returning next season are Mike Fisher, Scott Hartnell and Alexei Emelin. Fisher is retiring (for real this time), and neither Hartnell nor Emelin fit into the club's future plans.
  • In addition, a whopping 21 of the Preds' current players are age 30 or younger, meaning most are either in the midst of their prime or just entering into it.

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Can eager Titans' rookies try to eat the playbook whole?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After three days of practicing alone, the Titans’ rookies get thrown in the deep end Monday.

It’s not a flat our sink or swim situation for the four draft picks, but the 22 undrafted rookies make their big impression now by how well they can stay afloat in the middle of veterans who have a giant head start on knowing what they are doing.IMG 8801

It’s not a full OTA practice at this point. The offseason program is still in Phase 2.

So they will work as position groups and the offense and defense can work as a unit but not against each other. Rookies get extra time for additional field work.

Veterans are certainly still learning the new playbooks put together by Mike Vrabel, Matt LaFleur, Dean Pees and the staff.

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Titans rookies are working, but we'll have to wait to meet the undrafted ones

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The pace of the reveal of the 22 undrafted rookies the Titans signed is slowed under Mike Vrabel.

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They were on the field with the team’s four draft picks – Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry, Dane Cruikshank and Luke Falk – on Saturday.

But media saw only the stretch and the individual position period of a rookie minicamp practice, and then the locker room stayed closed while only the four draft picks spoke.

I’m most curious about running back Akrum Wadley and wide receiver Deontay Burnett. It’s hard to get much of an impression even at a fully open practice better yet at a limited view one, and so we will wait.

While Burnett (No. 80) was regularly first in line for the receivers, Wadley (38) was first at times but third at other times in running back drills.

Is that a guy who would seem to outrank Dalvin Dawkins and Larry Rose not asserting himself to head the group? Did running back

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These Predators mirrored the 2000 Titans

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Our fine city’s pro-sports peaks are now parallel:

A surprise season that fell just short of a championship; A spectacular regular-season follow-up that created massive expectations; A failure to live up to them; And a franchise absent the Lombardi Trophy and Stanley Cup we anticipated would arrive.IMG 8664

Music City remains a “new’ entry in the NFL and NHL, with teams that started out here in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

We’ve hardly got the tortured existence of some franchises or cities.

But the way the 2017-2018 Predators lost a second-round series to the Winnipeg Jets after a Presidents’ Trophy regular-season closely mirrored what unfolded for the 2000 Titans. 

They were linked last night as Eddie George joined Sheryl Crow to wave the gold towel and get the crowd amped.

That Titans team followed up a Super Bowl appearance with the NFL’s best regular season and a first-round bye, then bombed at home in a shocker of a loss to Baltimore.

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