NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Taylor Lewan joined the Titans in 2014, the locker room was dingy and divided.

Defensive backs including Bernard Pollard and George Wilson and running backs like Antonio Andrews and Shonn Greene had lockers in a central area that blocked the flow of the room and blocked teammates from seeing each other.

It was hardly the key to the chemistry problems at the time – the 1999 Super Bowl team had the same setup – but a few years later it was considered symbolic when those booths were eliminated in a locker-room overhaul.Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan

Pool photo: George Walker, The Tennessean

Lewan, the second-longest tenured member of the team, was part of a 2-14 season his rookie year and a 3-13 campaign the following season that was just as bad.

That locker room was torn up and rebuilt after the 2015 season, the first piece of a total overhaul of the team’s headquarters that will be completed sometime this fall or winter when a new, second building will be completed.

A more significant project that started in 2016 is also well along. It doesn’t have a completion date and requires constant oversight.

The culture of the football side of the franchise, bolstered by all the capital improvements, has improved greatly since Jon Robinson became the general manager and gotten better since Mike Vrabel became his coach in 2018.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans' early-round patience will be on display again Sunday when they open the season against the Cardinals at Nissan Stadium.

First-rounder Caleb Farley won’t start or work as the nickel back and second-rounder Dillon Radunz will, at best, serve as tackle-guard swing depth on the offensive line.

Tennessee is regarded as one of the AFC’s top teams, FanDuel has them fifth to win the conference at +1300.Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Dillon Radunz

The Titans did not come into 2021 as a team in need of no help.

Farley is part of a large-scale revamp at cornerback and Radunz was drafted as a cure right tackle, where the team needed a solution after absolutely bombing with first-rounder Isaiah Wilson a year ago.

Still, the two continue a trend: Players picked in the first two rounds aren’t asked to help early in Nashville, where the head coach started his career with the Steelers and worked as a role player and key special teamer for four years before he became a key piece of the Patriots’ defense.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – They’ve had all offseason to plan for their opener, but as Mike Vrabel and the Titans put their final touches on the first game plan of 2021, it's probably not what you think.

The Cardinals, like many teams, are starting from close to zero.Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard

There are some basics from last season that are sure to carry over. But with new personnel and a blank sheet, they can do anything, and Tennessee will have to respond and adapt more on Sunday than in most games this season. They are in position to make Arizona do likewise.

We tend to picture whiteboards and iPads filled with months’ worth of ideas for the first game, but it sounds like the buildup to Sunday afternoon at Nissan Stadium won’t have been like that at all.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Happy Labor Day weekend.

I hope you are able to enjoy the final days of summer and the last without NFL football. The Titans are off until Monday.

In the meantime, here's a great mailbag covering several key issues.

If you are not a member, it's a great time to sign up for an annual membership, If you are a fantasy football person, the first 13 who sign up get a spot in a league with me and we will have a blast.

A fan celebrates a touchdown at a Tennessee Titans game.

Photo courtesy Tennessee Titans

Onto your excellent questions.

Bryan Harris Following the preseason, which area of the defense are you more confident in having success this year after last year’s struggles: pass rush or coverage?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jurrell Casey was a clear Titans’ gem during an era when big finds were not a regular thing.

A five-time Pro Bowler was a consistent problem for opponents on the interior line and one of the best Titans in the community the franchise has ever had.

But the ending wasn’t pretty. It rarely is.Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey

When the Titans shipped him to Denver for a seventh-rounder they actually assured him of an $11.4 million salary in 2020, when he wound suffering a season-ending biceps injury in his third game.

But he wanted desperately to finish his career playing only for the Titans and he was hurt, begging Jon Robinson not to make the move and decrying it once it was made.

He said on the McCourty twins podcast that the Titans threw him away “like a piece of trash.”

A little over 14 months later, however, he’s come to terms with things, as many players do when their careers come to a close. [Unlocked]

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- With nine guys still on Reserve/Covid-19, the Titans have 62 players.

We won't see their unofficial updated depth chart until next week.

The Tennessee Titans secondary sword logo at the entrance to the field.

But I thought we should have a starting point now to adjust from as guys come off the list.

So here it is. Guys on the Covid list are in parenthesis with rookies underlined.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Whiffing on a fourth-round pick isn’t an uncommon sin. But missing on him to the point where he isn’t even on the roster for a game is particularly bad.

Dez Fitzpatrick didn’t make the Titans’ initial 53-man roster.

Tennessee Titans fourth-round pick Dez Fitzpatrick did not make the roster.

Tennessee traded up for him in April, selecting him 109th overall after giving Carolina the 126th (fourth round), 166th (fifth round) and 232nd (seventh round) selections.

Mason Kinsey was the other cut of note, but he was less likely to stick at a crowded receiver spot as he seemed a lesser version of the impressive Chester Rogers.

Some notes on the first version of the 53:

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