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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As new position coaches have worked to learn their players and figure out how to get the most out of them, defensive line coach Terrell Williams has been vulnerable with his charges.

He’s shared the story of the 2012 death of his 4-year old son, Tyson.

“That was a tough time, but what it’s taught me is to be thankful and grateful for what you have," he said. "We had our son for four years, my wife and I, a short time. But you know what? Those were the best four years of our life.TerrellWilliams

“It makes me appreciate my players, appreciate the people that I work with, appreciate relationships and life is short. In my mind I give everything I’ve got. The guys that I coach are important to me, they are like family to me. Heck, Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour, Andre Carter and Dave Tollefson, those were the pallbearers at my son’s funeral.

Tyson Williams got sick unexpectedly on Nov. 2, his birthday, and he was gone on Nov. 9. Stories at the time said the illness was undisclosed and Williams didn’t offer that detail as he remembered his son and spoke of how the loss has shaped his approach to his life and work.

“The thing I’ve learned is: don’t question it,” he said. “You accept it and every day you’ve got to make a choice to kind of move forward. The thing that I’ve learned losing my child is there were people in this league, more people than you realize, that have lost children.”

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Marcus Mariota finished Sunday session very well

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Stuff of note from Sunday’s training camp practice:

I still see some timing and anticipation issues from Marcus Mariota, and we’ve been told by smart people to expect such things as he gets the new offense down and that thinks will eventually fully click in. He had an early boot left with a throwback deep right for Walker that was good – Will Compton got a bit lost and would have been called for PI. That’s the sort of mismatch the Titans should eat up.MariotaCampHood

(Photo courtesy of Rich Pharris, 104.5 The Zone.)

Mariota threw a few balls I thought weren’t driven enough and that had a slight wobble. Adoree' Jackson broke one of them up intended for Taywan Taylor that had a good trajectory but was a touch short and wobbly. In the final period, however, Mariota was excellent. He hit Darius Jennings with Logan Ryan in coverage. He had a strong throw up the right seam to Walker. He pulled one down in a collapsing pocket and took off. He zipped another to Jennings, who’s dive to collect it beat Jackson and set up the desired field goal.

The one-on-one passing period pitting receivers against corners had a twist, as each snap alternated with a pass rusher taking on an offensive lineman with Mariota dropping back. Mike Vrabel said he mixed them together for guy to have more of an audience of peers while working one-on-one, which is the core of the game. But he said he’ll need to look at it to see if there was any gain that would make it a regular or semi-regular feature.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans run game will be different in the new offense. The question is how different.

Offensive line coach Keith Carter says not too different.

I wrote this offseason about how Derrick Henry might fare in a zone scheme.

Just before camp started, he spoke about the zone scheme that will now feature him.

“I like it a lot, we did that a lot in college so it’s not anything new,” he said. “It’s what this offense is built on, outside zone.”

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Titans' undrafted LB Nick DeLuca has no hesitation about move to TE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Undrafted rookie Nick DeLuca out of North Dakota State is still listed as a linebacker on the Titans roster.

He was part of a  Bison unit that finished No. 1 in total defense in FCS, allowing only 237.4 yards a game and he was the only player at his level of college football to be nominated for the prestigious Butkus Award.

But his career as a defender is over, at least for now, as the Titans have flipped him to tight end.DeLuca

"He's doing fine, he's learning," Mike Vrabel said. "You try to put the player in the best position to help the team and to help himself. We felt that Nick’s best chance to help us and move forward this year is as a tight end. That conversation took about 20 seconds. It was like, 'Whatever you need for me to do, I'm going to go to the tight end meeting right now and just tell me where to go.'

"That's the type of attitude that we want everybody in this organization to have."

Delanie Walker got a day off Saturday and some other tight ends had it rough. Luke Stocker twice fumbled after making a catch, as did Ethan Wolf.

I tracked down DeLuca on Friday to chat about the change.

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Breakdown of which receivers worked with Marcus Mariota and how much on Saturday

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We don’t have to know them for them to be good, but the Titans receiving core is giving a lot of reps high in the rotation to players who hardly rank as sure things.

With Rishard Matthews still not back from an unknown injury suffered or aggravated during OTAs, Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor continue to work as the starters in the base offense.IMG 2660

Taylor told me 100 percent of his snaps have been outside through three days of camp, whereas last year it was about 25 percent. He brings a great element of speed and like Davis, seems to be carrying himself with more confidence as the start of his second season.

“Marcus that’s our guy, our leader, our quarterback,” Taylor said. “I’ve definitely been trying to make sure I’m getting reps with him and coach has been telling me, ‘Make sure you go with Marcus’ and things like that. You want to get the most realistic looks and like you said, that’s our guy.”

I spent Saturday’s practice charting just how many snaps each receiver got with the offense when Marcus Mariota was the QB.

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Malcolm Butler's competitiveness, energy contagious for Titans' defense so far

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Malcolm Butler was great on Thursday. He rated himself and the secondary as much worse on Friday.

But through just two days it’s clear that Butler brings a contagious competitiveness and energy to the cornerbacks, the secondary and the defense.DavisButler

I have my concerns about paying $30 million guaranteed to a guy with competitiveness as, perhaps, his top quality. But it’s been inarguably significant so far and that’s not going to fade.

“He’s fun, he’s fun, he’s fun,” Taywan Taylor said. “He’s a fun matchup and we love competing against him. That’s what we want and he’s only going to make us better.”

Kendrick Lewis as played seven seasons as a safety in Kansas City, Houston and Baltimore.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We’ve all dreamed of Marcus Mariota running bootlegs, something we’ve hardly seen from him in the NFL. Which has been inexplicable.MariotaCloseJuly18

Friday he had an absolute beauty.

In the redzone- he booted to his right and had nothing but Harold Landry bearing down on him. The QB pumped faked, stopped and cut inside and Landry flew by, then weaved into the end zone.

Pretty stuff that should get you excited about the elements that will be part of Matt LaFleur’s offense.

I'm not allowed to take video or pictures at that stage. But this guy did even if he messed up the orientation.

Mariota downplayed the idea that he hasn’t run many bootlegs as he talked through a bit of how that one unfolded and what they can do for this year’s team.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Taylor Lewan has a five-year extension that makes him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.

On the second day of camp, the team nailed down the most complicated contract scenario Jon Robinson has yet to face and they can move forward having shown a premier player and a key member of the team a major commitment.

 Shortly after I reported the deal was complete, ESPN said it’s worth $80 million with $50 million guaranteed.

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Negotiations picked up steam on Tuesday and he decided to report on time Thursday morning after holding out for the team’s three-day, two-practice minicamp in June.

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