High expectations for some still unseen Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The longer we go without seeing a guy, the more people tend to expect from him.

Vic Beasley is a big glaring exception here. He took 10 days to report and aside from one sighting on an exercise bike, he’s been just about as visible during his time on the non-football injury list as he was when the team couldn’t find him for the first three days of his unexcused absence.

For $9.5 million the expectation was something in the range of 10 sacks. Now it’s set up that any production out of him will look like a giant bonus.

But look around the Titans’ roster at some other guys we’ve not seen really do anything yet, and the outlooks are positive, sometimes unreasonably so.
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(Photo: D'Andre Walker)

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Mike Vrabel wants Titans feeling as safe expressing themselves elsewhere as they do at work

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – I want for it to be for my guys out there the way it is for them in here.

That was one of the big points from Mike Vrabel on Thursday after the Titans didn’t practice and turned again to a big discussion of social justice, this time in light of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc.

Kevin Byard and Ryan Tannehill, centered in front of the masked team in its main meeting room, delivered messages through a media Zoom call. They spoke of how they and the group were feeling after watching Blake’s story unfold and stack on top of a string of recent and historical events they want to see change course.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Last August, Amy Adams Strunk told The Midday 180 she doesn't want a new stadium but likes the idea of a large-scale retrofit like the Dolphins did to Hard Rock Stadium.

Wednesday, also on The Midday 180, Nashville Mayor John Cooper fielded my question about the future of Nissan Stadium with an answer that said he does not envision the city making a big investment in such a renovation.

The Titans' lease expires in 2029 but the city could need to do some significant upgrades if it's to be a host for the 2026 World Cup. Stadium

“I think the team and the city is going to work well together understanding that there can’t be big financial subsidies going to a team,” said Cooper, who’s current term ends in 2023. “We did that 30 years ago, but that’s now recognized around the country that it’s a tough way for cities to spend money when we’re trying to serve our entire community really well.”

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Eight years and six quarterbacks.

It’s fair to say that’s how long it’s been since the Titans started training camp with a quarterback with full command of a fully caffeinated offense, where he carried himself onto the field and into the huddle as a guy clearly in charge, not harboring or hiding doubt, not needing a coach to prop him up to some degree or a playbook to be overly tailored to him because of limitations.Tannehill082520GW

Matt Hasselbeck had that in 2011 and 2012, albeit with an offense that asked less of him. He wasn’t eager to give it up to Jake Locker, who didn’t have it. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst, Marcus Mariota, Matt Cassell and Blaine Gabbert didn’t have it either.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mental reps are a catch-all basket. If a guy’s hurt, if he’s getting a day off, four Titans coaches before Mike Vrabel all talked of the urgency and importance of the almighty mental rep.

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(Jamal Davis tries to tackle Marcus Mashall. Photo: George Walker, The Tennessean via pool.) 

Helmetless observers stood watching and while they gave up minimal updates after practice about their injury or cause for not working, they’d tell us about how dialed in they were with their mental reps.

Until Mike Vrabel arrived.

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A close look at D'Andre Walker's Sunday practice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – D’Andre Walker has gone from 2019 fifth-round pick who went on IR Aug. 10 before we had any sense of what he could add to the Titans’ pass rush to a guy at the head of the line.

Walker’s been one of the Titans’ two top outside linebackers throughout camp, and he stayed there Sunday even as Kamalei Correa continued to re-emerge from an undisclosed injury because Harold Landry fell out of practice before the full team section of the workout became.DAndreWalkerGW

(Photo: George Walker, Tennessean via pool.)

"I just think he's a smart guy, a strong guy at the point of contact," Rashaan Evans said. "I can't wait to really see what he does on the field. I know he seems very eager to get out there on the field and do his thing."

I watched Walker as closely as the logistics of things would allow and saw a workmanlike day from the 6-foot-2, 251-pound 23-year-old who played collegiately at Georgia.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Isaiah Wilson attended a party at Tennessee State University off-campus apartments on Heiman Street that drew the attention of university police on Aug. 15, prompting Wilson to ponder jumping off a second-story balcony, according to a campus police incident report.Wilson79DrinkGW

(Photo George Wilson, Tennessean via pool.)

It is unclear how many people were at the gathering.

If there were more than 15 people at the gathering, the Titans' first-round pick could be judged to have violated NFL rules in place to protect teams from the spread of COVID-19. If there were fewer than 15, he still could be viewed as showing poor judgment on an early off-day considering how much the team has emphasized keeping players, coaches and support staff safe.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Trevor Siemian took his first snaps in the red practice jersey of a Titans quarterback and while it was hard for observers, and Mike Vrabel, to offer too much of a one-day review, it looked like the average sort of first day for an experienced guy working in a new place with new people.

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(Photo: George Walker, The Tennessean via pool.)

"After one day it's going to be hard to give you the State of the Union on him," Vrabel said. "But he's played in games and he's functioned pretty well for just having a couple Zoom meetings (Wednesday) and a quick meeting (Thursday) morning)."

The experienced Siemian is obviously better than rookie seventh-rounder Cole McDonald was, a guy the Titans made a quick decision to toss to the scrap heap. Now we’ll see over the next few weeks if Siemian passes Logan Woodside, who has no game experience but two seasons of work with the Tennessee coaches, for the job as Ryan Tannehill’s primary backup.

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