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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Guest column: Record-setting Predators failed when it matters most

Party Fowl Online Ads 01By John Glennon, guest columnist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the end, maybe it was fitting that this utterly unpredictable playoff series ended on the strangest of all notes.

Who could have predicted, for instance, that the goaltender likely to win the Vezina Trophy this summer would have melted down in the opening period of Thursday's Game 7 loss?IMG 8671

Who could have guessed the Predators team that busted its collective backside for half a year – all in the name of capturing home-ice advantage – would drop three of four second-round games in Nashville to the Winnipeg Jets?

The only thing that made perfect sense by the time Winnipeg completed its 5-1 victory over the Predators was this: The better team was moving on.

In their own way, the Jets were more convincing beating the Predators in seven games in a conference semi-final than Pittsburgh was in beating Nashville in six games in the Stanley Cup Final last season.

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YAZOO podcast stripeNASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We've got a quiet Titans stretch right now, with rookies arriving in Nashville Thursday and media getting our first look at those guys on the field on Saturday.

BlevinsPodcastMusic City is very much in hockey mode right now, with the Predators hosting the Jets in Game 7 of the second round Thursday night with a spot in the Western Conference Final on the line.

So Madison Blevins and I discuss just how big the city's first Game 7 will be and delve into the limits of fan faith and the tendency for it to bleed into super positivity. As you well know, if you want all positive all the time, I am absolutely your guy.

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.

This is also the fashion edition of the pod, with a review of The Met Gala and what I am misguidingly going to refer to as Blevins'"Red Wedding jumpsuit." 

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Why do you care that I don't have blind faith in the Nashville Predators?

TicketsBar2NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the most part, when it comes to sports, I’m most emotional about being unemotional.

I root for the Yankees and U.S. Soccer, and beyond that I tend to be detached. Certainly from the Titans and the NFL, which I cover twofold here and on The Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone.PredsStand

The Predators put me in an awkward spot. I want them to do well. I’m a Nashvillian for over 20 years, I love a good story. They are a likable team with a generally enjoyable style of play.

But on the radio, I’m never going to get carried away with excitement over a local team. It just isn’t my approach. Maintaining some sort of distance from a team allows me to observe and analyze in a different way.

The flow of response to any pessimism about the Nashville Predators during their second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets has been truly remarkable.

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