Injured Cam Newton's practice routine is untraditional

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Injured NFL quarterbacks typically do what they can to stay involved. They talk of taking “mental reps,” listen in on play calls, watch snaps unfold, converse with their replacement, chat with their coordinator.

In my time watching such practice scenarios I’ve always seem them try to do that.IMG 1412

The quarterbacks I’ve covered include Jeff Hostetler, Vince Evans, Chris Chandler, Steve McNair, Neil O’Donnell, Billy Volek, Vince Young, Kerry Collins, Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Peyton Manning, Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky, Andrew Luck, Matt Schaub, Sage Rosenfels, T.J. Yates, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst, Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassel, Alex Tanney.

I can’t remember an injured one at a camp practice who wandered around or did his own thing when he wasn’t the man under center as opposed to working to watch what was unfolding. Hurt guys were inside getting treatment or with the offense.

So I was fascinated to see how Carolina’s Cam Newton, who’s recovering from a shoulder injury, carried himself Thursday during a joint practice with the Titans.

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Adoree' Jackson defensive role still getting sorted out

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans rookie corner Adoree’ Jackson flashed against the Panthers Thursday, but coach Mike Mularkey said LeShaun Sims is holding on to the second starting sport right now.

In a strong beginning for The Tennessee corners it took four passes for Cam Newton to complete a ball and it was Jackson who broke up the second one, aimed for Devin Funchess. (That was after a Sims breakup on Russell Shepard.)

Later in a team period Jackson intercepted a pass targeted for Damiere Byrd, but officials flagged Jackson for defensive holding. The picture here is of him ultimately breaking up a scramble pass to the back right corner on a red-zone snap.

“(He) had a nice interception today in the second down and third-and-long period,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “That was good to see. Hopefully it was a little bit of a confidence booster for him. He's had a good camp.”

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Avery Williamson thinks he's upgraded his game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a contract year, Avery Williamson wants to make sure he’s a complete player.

He’s been an every-down inside linebacker for some time now, and a pretty good one.

But a couple botched plays in pass coverage against tight ends in 2016 have stuck to him, and while he’ll be on the field on third down the team went and got a youngster in Jayon Brown it thinks can be a better compliment as the nickel linebacker than Sean Spence was.

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Panthers' defense won the day against Titans' offense

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- I stuck with the Titans’ offense as it went against Carolina’s defense Wednesday at the joint practice.

And the advantage definitely went to the visiting team, with a strong showing from the defensive front and linebacker Luke Kuechly buzzing around.

From my vantage point it was a largely disappointing effort by a team looking to return to its identity as a physical, run-first offense. The ugly loss in New York to the Jets was supposed to be a wake up call, but this performance wasn’t that much better.

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Titans' cornerbacks pride themselves on run support

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For all the coverage issues the Titans cornerbacks had last season, one of the major points of emphasis through the offseason and into camp didn’t have much to do with balls in flight.

It’s been run support.

“That’s one thing we know, in order for us to get to where we’ve got to get to, that’s the No. 1 thing we’ve got to improve,” secondary coach Deshea Townsend said. “The pass is another one. But if we’re physical and we’re stopping the run, we’ll give ourselves a chance in games in the long run.

“No matter what level you play at, if you’re not stopping the run you’re not going to win many games.”

In the preseason opener against the Jets, Titans cornerbacks accounted for nine tackles at the end of run plays. Six of those runs were for 4 yards or less, where corners closed something down as opposed to where a run broke through to the secondary.

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Vanderbilt should not take football off campus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The first renderings of a MLS stadium at Fairgrounds Nashville are spectacular, and it’s hard not to get fired up at the possibility of it being a centerpiece of yet another neighborhood renaissance in Music City.IMG 1236

It’s far more difficult to get fired up about the possibility of it also being home to Vanderbilt’s football team.

Per The Tennessean: “The stadium is envisioned as a ‘dual-purpose’ facility in case Vanderbilt University wants to move forward with a proposal to share the stadium with MLS and make it the new home of their football team.”

The paper quotes Vanderbilt's vice chancellor David Williams as open to the idea.

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Titans' mailbag debut: On WRs, Jets' disaster, Logan Ryan stock

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The first edition of the mailbag here.

At ESPN.com, they made us cut it down to one question, maybe two. I thought that was weak as I like mailbags as a spot where I can address a lot of stuff in one place.

I will regularly pack these to whatever degree the questions warrant it. 

PK: Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker and Taywan Taylor are definites. I think it would be very hard for them not to keep Tajae Sharpe. That was a solid rookie season by a fifth-round pick who helped change the receiver room. He could be back from his foot stress fracture as soon as next week. So that’s five. That could be it, possibly with Eric Weems qualifying as a sixth in a pinch if he’s around as a return man and special teamer. Tre McBride and Harry Douglas would be next. Douglas would be a luxury if he’s inactive weekly but available if someone is hurt. McBride is younger, of course, and can do more on special teams, but is still too inconsistent. Depth or lack of it at other positions will influence the receiver number. But right now I say five plus Weems.

PK: One game, and just a few series for starters, should not be much of a harbinger of things to come. Every year I tell people not to read too much into the preseason, then there are at least a few developments I wind up putting too much stock into. The safer play is to always work to minimize how much you let the preseason influence your expectations and feelings about a team.

PK: Considering how so many people wear jerseys, a sweeping dislike would simply include too many people. Therefore I select B. I blame Jeff Fisher for this, in part. Because every time the Titans cut someone of note during his term as coach, he would say the team could bring the guy back. To him it softened the blow, but I think some people didn’t see through that and it gave them sentimental hope that their dear, former Titan would wear the colors again.

PK: It was a factor. But the fact is the Titans asked a great deal of a fifth-round rookie, partly out of necessity. His contribution was impressive when put in context. And while he’s probably the fifth guy once he’s back, which could be as early as next week, he’ll benefit greatly from all the additions on offense when he gets snaps. He’s not getting as many as he did last year barring a slew of injuries.

PK: He’s just not been very good. I like the idea of him, and thought his dashy, darty style showed up a bit early on. But as camp has gone on he hasn’t shown much, except that he can’t field punts.

PK: He played 15 snaps. A jersey guy who went to Rutgers, he said he let himself get a little overhyped as he was back home. He got kind of lost on a pass that was actually thrown accidentally further inside than it should have been and Robby Anderson made a good adjustment to make a 53-yard catch. It’s ONE play. We can make no judgment -- major or even minor – off one play.

PK: Pretty much everybody. Here are a few guys who can do what they did against the Jets and be just fine: FS Kevin Byard, CB Kalan Reed, ILB Jayon Brown, OLB Aaron Wallace, WR Harry Douglas.

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Why is it hard to believe reporters don't root?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In conversations with many of you, I’m often asked how I can “not like” the Titans and still cover them.

The question drives me crazy, but it’s asked often enough that I felt like I should expound on the answer in this space. Now I will have something to point people to every time I am asked.FullSizeRender 19

I did a similar thing at ESPN.com in 2011, with a piece on how people accusing me of being biased every time I expressed an opinion were not really getting what it was I was doing.

First off, the notion that I “don’t like” the Titans makes it seems like there are strictly two options: Liking them or not liking them.

It’s not that simple.

I like reporting about them. I like a lot of people with the organization, long-timers and newcomers. Right now I like their plan, direction and a good share of their personnel. But I don’t like them like most of you like them. I don’t like them where I root for them or have an emotional investment in their success or failure.

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