Marcus Mariota, Jack Conklin come out well as Titans kick off camp

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Training camp’s start offered us some offensive-line clarity, some nice red-zone offense, some show of command by the quarterback in question.

Here’s my sketch of the Titans’ first day…

MariotaJuly19Marcus Mariota: I thought he had a rather good day. There was an early red-zone one-on-one period that was filmable. The advantage is big for the offense. I missed a good early connection with Corey Davis before I got rolling with my phone. He and Adam Humphries had a clear connection and the corner throw to Tajae Sharpe was excellent. 

Thursday, Mike Vrabel said he wants Mariota to be aggressive but not reckless and to take command of the offense. [Unlocked]

I saw some of that Friday, with a nice pass after he was chased out of the pocket to his right. On the move, he threw a pretty midrange pass to Taywan Taylor who sprawled for it as it went out of bounds. He bobbled it at the very end. I suspect under last year’s rules it would have been incomplete, but under the revised catch rules it would have counted.IMG 5149

“That’s part of our culture here, he wants us to know what to do and play aggressive,” Mariota said of aggressive but not reckless. “For me, it’s understanding the happy medium – being able to take chances when they are there but also maybe it’s not there, not forcing things. …

“For me, (command) is getting guys in and out of the huddle, making sure our operation is clean, limiting our penalties pre-snap. Those things really start with us as quarterbacks. Coach Vrabel has kind of put it on us to make sure that we are clean and I can always get better at it. Those things are definitely negative when you are trying to start a drive. I’m going to do my best to try to clean those things us.”

As one of four team offseason MVPs, one of his rewards was an upgraded parking spot. But of course, the starting QB already had a pretty good parking spot.

“It’s probably five yards closer to the door,” he said.

Hey, if he can start second-and-5 all the time, the Titans will take it.

Jack Conklin returns: Conklin missed the first three games of the 2018 season as he completed a return from an ACL tear, missed the New England game hurt and went on IR for the final three games with what he said were knee complications (but not a re-tear).

The Titans declined to exercise a fifth-year option for 2020, but need him healthy and back close to the form he showed as a rookie in 2016 when he was All-Pro.

Taylor Lewan, who’s in line to be suspended the first four games for a bone-headed PED violation, worked as the backup left tackle with Dennis Kelly in his place. The rest of the line, left to right, was Rodger Saffold, Ben Jones, Kevin Pamphile and Conklin. (Saffold didn’t stay in very long.) 

Mariota said Conklin looks “bigger, faster, stronger” and that it all says a lot about his offseason.

As for the shifted line with Lewan’s pending absence, Saffold said they’ll clearly miss him but it’s not the major adjustment some may think.

TicketsBox“The good thing is, no matter who is in there, the techniques don’t change, he said. “With Dennis, he’s a veteran guy, you know that he’s a smart player. Being next to him you just try to get the pieces to fit. I’ve built a great relationship with a bunch of our tackles and as long as we continue to communicate, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Also: Jonnu Smith, who is on PUP, ran some on the side and looked good. He’s nearly eight months removed from an ACL repair.

I found it interesting that Mariota said a lot of Corey Davis’ continued growth is on the QB, who needs to deliver to him consistently.

Adam Humphries was terrific in a visit with The Midday 1870, where he talked about how you don’t have to be an elite talent to be successful in certain regards in the NFL. Be sure to listen to that, which you can find here.

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