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NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans (0-0) open the 2017 regular season at home this week against the Oakland Raiders (0-0). Kickoff at Nissan Stadium (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for noon CDT on Sunday, Sept. 10.
This is the 50th all-time meeting between the former American Football League rivals, including regular season and playoff games. In 2016, the Raiders beat the Titans at Nissan Stadium by a final score of 17-10 (Sept. 25). Nine of the previous 49 battles have taken place in Week 1, with the Titans owning a 6-3 advantage. Most recently, the Titans hosted the Raiders on Kickoff Weekend in 2010 and prevailed 38-13.

The Titans are 30-27 all-time in Week 1, including a 5-4 Kickoff Weekend record at Nissan Stadium. They won three consecutive openers on the road from 2013–2015 (at Pittsburgh, at Kansas City and at Tampa Bay) before falling at home to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 last season.

The game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz and analyst Tony Romo will call the action, and Tracy Wolfson will report from the sidelines.

The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will carry the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Dave McGinnis, gameday host Rhett Bryan and sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.


Fans attending the game are encouraged to participate in the LP PENCIL Box School Supply Drive. LP PENCIL Box, a collaborative non-profit venture between PENCIL Foundation and LP Building Products, offers Nashville Metro teachers the opportunity to acquire school supplies for the city’s most in-need children. Collection locations will be positioned outside of Nissan Stadium to collect donated items such as pencil boxes, paper towels, backpacks, construction paper, notebook paper, art supplies, primary tablets, kleenex and classroom cleaning supplies.

Mike Mularkey enters his second full season as head coach after leading the Titans to a 9-7 record in 2016, tripling the win total from 2015. The six-win improvement tied for the most in franchise history (1967 and 1974).

Last year’s squad defeated six teams with winning records—Detroit, Miami, Green Bay, Denver, Kansas City and Houston—to tie the Dallas Cowboys for the most such victories in the NFL. Five of those wins were against playoff teams (all but Denver), which tied the Packers’ total for the most in the league. This year’s team will be tested similarly in the early stages, as four of the Titans’ first five regular season opponents—Oakland, Seattle, Houston and Miami—made the playoffs in 2016.
Quarterback Marcus Mariotahas fully recovered from a right fibula injury that prematurely ended his second NFL campaign. His 2016 passing statistics—3,426 yards and 26 touchdowns with nine interceptions—were among the franchise’s all-time best for a single season, and his touchdown total finished fourth in team history. Steve McNair (100.4 passer rating in 2003) and Warren Moon (96.8 passer rating in 1990) are the only two quarterbacks in franchise history to complete a season with a better passer rating than Mariota’s 95.6 in 2016.
Mariota has several new teammates scheduled to make their debut in Two-Tone Blue this week. General manager Jon Robinson’s free agent acquisitions during his second offseason with the team included cornerback Logan Ryan (from New England), safety Johnathan Cyprien(Jacksonville), nose tackle Sylvester Williams (Denver) and wide receiver Eric Decker (New York Jets). In the 2017 NFL Draft, Robinson used first-round picks on wide receiver Corey Davis (fifth overall) and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (18th overall) and added wide receiver Taywan Taylor and tight end Jonnu Smith in the third round.


The Raiders are led by Jack Del Rio, who begins his third campaign with the Raiders and his 12th as a head coach in the NFL. In 2016, Del Rio guided his team to a 12-4 record and a Wild Card playoff berth, just missing out on the AFC West crown to the Kansas City Chiefs as a result of a tiebreaker. The 2016 squad included a league-best seven players who were named to the Pro Bowl.

Although quarterback Derek Carr was named to the Pro Bowl, he was unable to participate due to a broken fibula suffered in Week 16—the same day Mariota sustained a similar injury. Carr, now healthy, is the first quarterback in Raiders history to throw for 3,000 yards in each of his first three seasons and has orchestrated 12 career fourth-quarter comebacks/game-winning drives.



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The quarterback on one side, named Marcus Mariota, was barking out adjustments and pointing at defensive players and shifting his own guys into a new play.

The quarterback on the other side, named Kevin Byard, was doing the same thing. Barking, pointing, shifting – reading Mariota’s adjustment and responding with one of his own. And then something happened on the play, can’t really remember what, who cares, it’s training camp. The point is what happened before the snap. And what it says about the Tennessee Titan whose role and importance from last season to this season have increased the most.

Byard knew this was coming right after his rookie season, in a long conversation with Titans secondary coach Deshea Townsend.

“I told him this is now his secondary,” said Townsend, who knew it was coming well before that –roughly a year ago, when Byard came into his rookie camp as a third-round pick out of MTSU and had the defensive coaches murmuring to one another about his ability to pick up Dick LeBeau’s defense.

“The things inside the building, that people outside the building can’t see, the things he’s able to pick up and pull off and do it on the field – that’s a special, special skill-set,” Townsend said of the 5-foot-11, 212-pound Byard. “And this scheme is not one that’s easy. If you’ve followed Coach LeBeau, typically rookies don’t play (in the secondary). Especially at safety because there’s so much you have to learn. … His skill-set within our scheme, it fits the mold of those great safeties that Coach LeBeau always had, with Troy Polamalu and Carnell Lake and some of those guys, Rod Woodson. He’s in that type of mold.”

Titans training camp day 5
Titans wide receiver Eric Decker (87) pulls down a
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Titans wide receiver Eric Decker (87) pulls down a catch over cornerback Tye Smith (33) during training camp practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tenn. George Walker IV / The Tennessean
Titans wide receiver Eric Decker (87) pulls down a1 of 30
Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) signs autographs
Titans kicker Ryan Succop (4) tries to rally support
Titans fan Chris Westerfield got the opportunity to
Titans fan Chris Westerfield reacts after missing a
Titans tackle Jack Conklin (78) waits for the next
Titans defensive end Mehdi Abdesmad (92) tries to get
Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan (91) works
Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau watches the
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws a pass
Titans wide receiver Taywan Taylor (13) pulls in a
Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (84) talks with Titans
Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (84) talks with Titans
Titans wide receiver Taywan Taylor (13) pulls in a
Titans defensive end Mehdi Abdesmad (92) walks to the
Titans outside linebacker Kevin Dodd (93) feels the
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) lets an interception
Titans fans try to stay cool as they watch practice
Titans running back Khalfani Muhammad (28) races up
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) lets a pass slip
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) throws a pass
A Titans fan covers her face to shield it from the
Titans wide receiver Jonathan Krause (17) takes an
Titans wide receiver Jonathan Krause (17) takes an
Former Titan Tim Shaw who suffers from ALS visits training
Titans owners Amy Adams Strunk and Barclay Adams visit
Titans wide receiver Mekale McKay (2) works on special
Titans wide receiver Eric Decker signs autographs for
Titans tight end Jerome Cunningham uses iPad to watch
Titans tight end Tim Semisch (85) watches video from
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Titans training camp day 5
And now, let’s take a pause. Rookie receiver Corey Davis injuring a hamstring Thursday was the first dose of bad news in the first week of a Titans training camp that has been all lollipops and rainbows. Everyone looks good; the fans are happy; the owner is hanging out and signing their oversized footballs; Mike Mularkey is struggling to come up with things to nitpick; and now we have “Kevin Byard” and “Troy Polamalu” being used in the same sentence.

So training camp optimism hall monitors, throw the red flag out on that one. That particular comparison is lofty for most and certainly for a guy who had seven starts, 63 tackles, four passes defended and no picks as a rookie. But keep in mind that Townsend used the words “fits the mold” and also that Townsend played with Polamalu in Pittsburgh and knew his skill-set as well as anyone.

Most importantly, the Titans’ actions say more about Byard than any testimonial could. Look out on that practice field. The four-safety rotation from last season is gone. Daimion Stafford and Rashad Johnson are gone, leaving Byard, returning 14-game starter Da’Norris Searcy and free-agent signee Johnathan Cyprien working with the first team.

Photos: Titans safety Kevin Byard
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) hits Chiefs running
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) hits Chiefs running back Anthony Sherman (42) during the first half on Dec. 18, 2016. Charlie Riedel / AP
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) hits Chiefs running1 of 19
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is tackled by Titans
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) stops Packers wide receiver
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) celebrates breaking
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) gets a hand on the Hail
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) celebrates a tackle
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) warms up before the
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) warms up before the
Raiders tight end Clive Walford (88) can’t make the
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) warms up before the
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) is wrapped
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) is wrapped
Titans safety Kevin Byard (31) and inside linebacker
Titans safety Kevin Byard (20) recovers his own fumble
Titans rookie safety Kevin Byard (20) intercepts a
Titans safety Kevin Byard (20) breaks up a pass intended
Titans safety Kevin Byard (20) stretches before the
Titans guard Quinton Spain, left, safety Kevin Byard,
Titans rookie safety Kevin Byard, right, gathers with
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Photos: Titans safety Kevin Byard
Searcy and Cyprien are rotating. Byard isn’t. He’s out there for every play, as he expects to be in 2017, and he is playing all over the field. And dictating where other defenders are stationed on it. And getting into pre-snap chess with Mariota.

“He looks like a longtime vet the way he makes his calls and gets everybody in the right place,” Mularkey said of Byard, who is charged with leading the revival of a secondary that gave up 4,307 passing yards last season (29th in the NFL).

“Me and Marcus, we like to play a lot of mind games, a lot of cat-and-mouse games,” Byard said. “He knows how to work his eyes and get the safeties off the hash, off the deep middle. He gets me better and I get him better, and I’m just fortunate to play with a quarterback like that.”

Byard was once a quarterback, at Martin Luther King High in Lithonia, Ga., before his coach had him try safety as a junior. The first thing Byard did was look up some of the “Weapon X” videos on YouTube of then-NFL star safety Brian Dawkins.

“It was on from there,” said Byard, who counts Dawkins, Ed Reed and – of course – Polamalu as his safety idols.

Over the summer, he studied contemporaries including Earl Thomas, Eric Berry, Eric Weddle, Reshad Jones and Devin McCourty.

“Just trying to steal a little bit from each of them,” said Byard, whose film-junkie tendencies certainly have helped get him here. “There’s a lot more on my plate now, and for that to happen so soon is great. I’ve got to take advantage of it.”

He looks the part, talks the part and has been given the lead role. The expected returns will come after the snap and in this team’s bottom line.

“I told him in that meeting, I said, ‘This has to be your secondary, and it has to be in the weight room, it has to be in the way you carry yourself, it has to be an every-day thing. If you want to be an elite safety, that’s what you have to do,’” Townsend recalled. “I’ve been around some great ones, and he’s embraced it.”


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This is a quote from Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson from shortly after he traded the number one pick in the 2016 NFL draft to the Los Angeles Rams. In that trade, the Titans gave up the first pick as well as a fourth, and a sixth that year in exchange for the 15th pick that year, two second rounders, a third rounder, as well as a first and a third in the 2017 draft.

“This move does not knock us out of any player, except one,’’ Robinson said. “We now have the ammunition to work the draft and acquire players that are going to be good for this football team.”
As a result of that trade, the Rams got quarterback Jared Goff. In that draft alone, the Titans selected 10 players including tackle Jack Conklin, linebacker Kevin Dodd, defensive tackle Austin Johnson, running back Derrick Henry, safety Kevin Byard, and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, all of whom contributed for them in 2016. They selected nine in the 2017 draft, including wide receiver Corey Davis who they picked at fifth overall via the Rams first round slot.

The Titans went from a 2-14 outfit in 2015 to a 9-7 team last season who were on the verge of a playoff berth. A similar effort is expected from them in 2017, while the Rams find themselves in limbo with a new head coach who they’ve brought in to put Goff’s career on track after shrugging off the weight of a rough rookie season. So what’s the difference between the two teams involved in this trade from last year? Only one them was patient and (dare I say) trusted the process.

It’s tough to blame the Rams for pulling the trigger to acquire Goff in the manner that they did. They had been floundering in a cesspool of 7-9 seasons that mainly stemmed from former head coach Jeff Fisher’s team building philosophy, one that involved stifling defense and an offense that had a penchant for getting stifled. In any event, Goff not turning into a superstar from the word go was the final nail in the coffin for Fisher in Los Angeles. This begs the question, will the Titans fortunes from the trade influence how teams choose to build moving forward? It looks like they may already have.

It started about a week from the day that the Titans made their trade, when the Cleveland Browns traded the second pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, which was in effect an acquisition of quarterback Carson Wentz in exchange for a windfall of picks. It didn’t work out immediately for the Browns who dodged an 0-16 bullet last year by a missed field goal, but it’s become clear that general manager Sashi Brown is playing the long game. It’s early, but it appears his strategy may pay off someday.

Some of the players he acquired in the 2016 draft have shown promise for Cleveland, and it’s allowed him to work in free agency as well. The Browns have built up a formidable (on paper) offensive line and defensive front seven since that trade, and DeShone Kizer is about as physically promising as any quarterback they’ve had in years. Part of that has to do with the fact that they struggled so mightily in 2016 and acquired the number one pick, something that it appears the New York Jets are actively trying to do in the 2017 season.

While they’ll never acknowledge it publicly, it seems that the Jets front office has been inspired by Tennessee and Cleveland, and if they do earn the number one pick this year, what they do with it will be a very intriguing plot line to watch. The upcoming quarterback class is being hyped as one of the best in years, and if the Jets complete the tank job that they’ve telegraphed as a possible objective for this season, they should have their pick of the litter between Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen. They may in fact just trade out of that spot, as we’ve seen happen with the other teams discussed.

The Jets will have to get creative if they want this rebuild to be done correctly, as Cleveland has shown over the past few seasons. This became apparent with the Browns acquisition of star linebacker Jamie Collins, as well as the pickup of not-so star quarterback Brock Osweiler which got them a second round pick in an NBA-esque salary dump trade. If they are able to pull off a rebuild in this fashion, it certainly answers the question of whether or not the Browns and Titans have influenced the league to embrace a revamp in this manner.

We just saw a similar wonky type of trade go down between three teams as the Eagles, Bills and Rams were involved in a quasi three-way deal which gave Philadelphia a starting cornerback and gave each Buffalo and Los Angeles a starting wide receiver (with Buffalo nabbing another corner as well). In short, it appears that teams are getting more ambitious with the way that they utilize the trade market, so keep an eye on how the Jets navigate that landscape as they focus their eyes on the 2018 draft.

If they do continue bending the laws of how rebuilding in the NFL is done, as we’ve seen with several other teams over the past few years, the Jets will in turn likely influence how teams moving forward do so. As a result, while they are unlikely to prove to be an interesting watch in 2017, New York is very much a team to keep an eye on once the Lombardi Trophy has been pulled down and the standings are reset in February.


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Tennessee Titans All-Pro offensive tackle and relatively new first-time father Jack Conklin bought a home in Oak Hill for nearly $1.5 million over the summer.

The second-year pro paid cash and then took out a $1.08 million loan secured by the property.

Located on 1.38 acres, the two-story, 6,500-square-foot brick home has five bedrooms, five bathrooms and two half baths.

Alice Charron of Keller Williams Realty was the listing Realtor for the home. Conklin was represented by Realtor Jane Jackson of Pilkerton Realtors.

The Titans drafted right tackle Conklin out of Michigan State University in 2016.

Following his rookie season, Conklin was named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press and made the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl as an alternate right tackle.

Oak Hill is a satellite city of Nashville.

More: Titans linemen Jack Conklin, Taylor Lewan protect baby daughters, Marcus Mariota

Both Titans offensive tackles, Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin, had daughters in the off-season. The two are adjusting to new fatherhood. Autumn Allison / USA Today Network – Tennessee


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The Tennessee Titans are more than solidified at the tight end position with Delanie Walker still anchoring the group. Even so, the Titans opted to select former Florida International tight end Jonnu Smith in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft while the up-and-coming pass catcher is already well on his way or so it appears.

“One day he will be better than me,” said Walker, via USA TODAY Sports. “And that’s his ultimate goal. And if he didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t want him here.”

However, those will be some tough shoes to fill as Walker, a Pro Bowler, currently owns the Titans franchise single-season records for both the most catches and receiving yards by a tight end.

“He’s made less mistakes,” added Titans coach Mike Mularkey. “He’s playing faster. This young man wants to do [well]. It’s really fun to coach him because everything’s important. He looks you dead in the eye; he takes every word in; and he wants to please you. He wants to do right for his teammates. So he’s a fun guy to coach.”

The 32-year-old Walker is now in the midst of his 12th NFL season and his fourth with the Titans. Appearing in 15 regular-season games in 2016-17, the veteran tight end caught 65 passes for an even 800 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Coming in here, Delanie is just one of the guys that I’m learning a lot from,” Smith said. “It’s a lot of other vets in the tight end room that I’m learning from. He’s a Pro Bowler, and we’ve kind of got a similar skill-set, so I kind of pick up a lot of things from him.

“It’s just very fortunate for me to be in the same room with him and just learn things from him. … But I know who I am. He’s Delanie Walker. I’m Jonnu Smith. And everybody’s got their own identity, and I’m going to take on my identity. Not to say that I’m not going to learn from guys who are doing great at their job.”


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Two weeks from now the Titans will be gearing up for the team’s first training camp practice.
But first things first.

We have another Titans mailbag that’s here now.

Let’s do this…

Neil Barnard York, England

Question: Hi Jim. I’m very new to American Football, but I’ve just recently caught ‘the fever’.

I am in Nashville from August 7-21. We are coming to the game against the Panthers on the 19th. I was wondering if it would be possible to watch a training session. I’ve seen so many great Football movies like ‘Remember the Titans’ and ‘The Longest Yard’ and I’ve always been fascinated with the way football players train. Would it be possible to come down and watch you train? Maybe get a few autographs after? Kindest regards.

Jim: Hey Neil. The training camp schedule was released this week, and the good news is the team will be practicing during that stretch, including practices with the Panthers on August 16 and 17. The entire schedule can be found at Titans Online. The autograph schedule has not been released yet, but should be soon. Hope you have a great trip!

Len Cooke from Jacksonville, Florida

Question: Hi Jim. The biggest problem I saw with the Titans last year was the glaring lack of pressure from the edge. To date, they haven’t addressed that either through free agency or the draft. My question is why not? Don’t they feel the need to really pressure the quarterback? It would take some pressure off a weak secondary, which they did address a bit during the off season. Thanks.

Jim: Hey Len. The team definitely understands the importance of getting after the QB, and it has two proven pass rushers in Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan. The two combined for 19.5 sacks last season, with Orakpo netting 10.5 and Morgan 9. It was the best for a Titans due since 2007. While the Titans didn’t sign a pass rusher in free agency, the team did draft former TCU linebacker Josh Carraway, who will get a chance to prove himself in camp. Plus, the team is banking on Kevin Dodd making an impact. Dodd was a second-round pick from a year ago, and when he played last year he flashed. Others will be battling in camp, so the cupboard isn’t bare behind the starters.

Nick Stine from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

Question: Hey Jim. Been a die-hard titans fan since the last couple years of the Campbell and Moon era. My question is with all the additions at the wide receiver position this off-season who will who will be the starting two? Will it be Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis? Where does Eric Decker fit in at? I love the Decker signing. He’s very proven in his career. And do you think all of them will make the team at the end of it All? Also who do you think has had the most noticeable off-season besides Marcus Mariota?

Can’t wait for football season to start!!! TITAN UP!!!

Jim: Hey Nick. Well, a lot to be determined here in training camp. I expect Matthews to start, but who else will be in the 2- and 3-receiver sets remains to be seen. Davis is going to play, and so will Decker. But don’t sleep on Taywan Taylor, the team’s third-round pick who looked great during the offseason. Tajae Sharpe is recovering from foot surgery and hopes to be in the mix as well. As for question 2, another guy with a “noticeable” offseason: Derrick Henry. He looks faster, and in even better shape.

James Gordon from Franklin, Tennessee

Question: Hi Jim, I really look forward to your mailbag as I find both your comments and the comments of others very informative. I’ve been watching highlights of Corey Davis and Adoree’ Jackson as well as Khlafani Muhammad and what I see is a new versatile set of weapons with speed and elusiveness. I see this opening up our offense sideline to sideline and thus preventing teams to load the box. I think this benefits the running backs and will boost our running attack by having more room to run at the second level. Do you think they will use Jackson on offense and if so how will they use him? Thanks again for the mailbags!

Jim: Hey James. Thanks for reading. I think Jackson will be used on offense one day, but not right out of the gate. Coaches want to let him get comfortable on the defensive side of the ball and on special teams first.

Jan Beck from Columbia, Tennessee

Question: Hi Jim. Don’t really have a question this week but would love for you to get word to Eric Decker or his wife, Jessie James Decker. We need a song, like the Eagles have but better, and Jessie would be just the one to write us our song. I mean really, we are The Tennessee Titans in Nashville, TN., Home of Country Music and we need a song!! Can’t wait for this year to get started! Thanks from a Titan Granny!

Jim: Hi Jan. Or do you prefer Titans Granny? I’ll spread the word. Thanks!

Ryan Kennedy from Murfreesboro

Question: Hey Jim, I have heard from several analysts that the Titans have a fairly easy schedule. I look on the upcoming schedule and it looks anything but easy. Oakland, Kansas City, Seattle, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Baltimore all have good QBs and have all been in the playoff recently. Then you have a pretty underrated AFC South with a lot of new pieces in Jacksonville, Watt is back on defense for Houston and we haven’t been able to beat Indy. That all has me thinking that this team is going to be in for a very tough season. I know in the NFL that every team is a tough out, but I’d like your thoughts on their strength of schedule and what you feel like their record should be at the end of the season.

Jim: Hey Ryan. Definitely some tough games on the schedule. But with the NFL, it’s hard to know for sure because things are so different from one year to the next. It never fails: Some teams predicted to be good don’t pan out, while others end up being surprisingly good. I do think the AFC South will be improved, and the six you rolled off should be good as well. The Titans have a road games at Miami, a playoff team last year, and Arizona as well. So the schedule isn’t going to be soft by any stretch.

Jesse Johnson from Woodbury, Tennessee

Question: Hey Jim. My question is do you see the team adding an additional corner when the roster cuts start to happen or do you think you think the guys there will play well and show enough in training camp and the preseason for the front office to feel confident in the players we have? I know there still remains a lot to be seen but in my opinion that’s still the position that has the most questions marks with mostly unproven players.

Jim: Hey Jesse. I think that’s a fair assessment about the cornerback position. A lot remains to be seen in camp here as well. Logan Ryan is proven, but LeShaun Sims and Adoree’ Jackson and Kalan Reed and others will have to prove themselves further. Brice McCain will try and hold on as well, and he’s been pretty good in the slot. I suspect Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey and the rest of the coaches will watch this position closely in camp. If they’re not satisfied, adding some after cuts or through the waiver system is a possibility I think.

Jeff Fradsham from Crewe, Virginia

Question: Hey Jim. There has been a lot of talk about the upgrades on the offense and defense, but I think the upgrades in special teams will make a difference of a game or two in the standings. I can’t recall the game or who the player was but I seem to recall giving some team a cheap 7 points to start a game last year.

Jim: Hey Jeff. Definitely had some issues early, and the punt return TD allowed against the Texans was a real killer. Things should be better, in part because of the additions of guys like Brynden Trawick, Daren Bates and Eric Weems. All three are regarded as top-notch special teams performers, and they should help with consistency.

Josh Bomar from Knoxville, Tennessee

Question: Hi Jim! I’m just wondering how Derrick Henry has embraced the backup roll. It must be tough to go from the best running back in college football and winning the Heisman Trophy, to a second string RB in the NFL. What can the coaching staff do to ensure his happiness? Will we see a split RB formation at some point? Will Derrick see the field more in 2017? I would hate to see him become frustrated and look to opt out of his 4 year deal. Just an interesting tidbit, Henry finished 12th in the league last year in yards per carry at 4.45 yards per attempt, where Murray finished 14th with 4.39 yards per carry. Food for thought.

Jim: Well Josh, I don’t know that any player “embraces” a back-up role. Everyone wants to play, and start. I do think Derrick understands the situation he’s in. He’s playing behind a Pro Bowler and one of the best backs in the game in DeMarco Murray. But Derrick is busting his rear to put himself in the best position possible to play. And if he performs well when he gets his chances, he’ll help himself get more opportunities.

Randy Hunt from Sacramento, California

Question: Hey Jim! First just want to say thanks for your coverage on the Titans. It’s hard to find coverage on the Titans since moving out to CA. But on to the questions!

Do you believe the Titans will pick up anymore new players before the season starts? I really like some of the players that we could acquire for pennies on the dollar. For example, Sheldon Richardson from the NY Jets. Yes, he does have some attitude problems but so did Haynesworth back in the day. Let’s maximize the roster this year! If TN could steal him for a late round pick which the Jets have been trying to negotiate if would be a deadly combo. Richardson, Casey, and Williams (If he plays to his potential) would be scary!

There was a lot of talk about acquiring Ezekiel Ansah from the Lions. If we could for cheap then let’s do it! But we would have to give up too much for this guy and this whole post is about picking up quality for pennies.

Also, what do you think of Paul Posluszny from the Jags? He had a career year last year and he would provide a much needed depth at the position! Furthermore, he is super cheap! Thanks for the time Jim!

Jim: Hey Randy. Appreciate it. I’m not going to speculate on specific players. But I mentioned this here last week that GM Jon Robinson always seems to be looking for ways to upgrade the roster, and he proved it late last offseason when he claimed Josh Kline off waivers and traded Dorial Green-Beckham for Dennis Kelly. I suspect conversations have already taken place about the potential for moves after analyzing the roster following minicamp. But sometimes the personnel guys and coaches want to see how things play out in camp before jumping. They want to give guys on the roster a chance to succeed, or fail. So we may have to wait a bit for this answer.

Jay Bhatla from Dallas, Texas

Question: Hi Jim. As always, I enjoy reading your mailbag every Saturday morning. This past week, one of your posts caught my eye.

I was born in Houston and grew up watching the Houston Oilers. I have followed the Oilers/Titans for 30 years, despite moving to Dallas during my formative years. One of my fondest memories includes visiting Nashville during the playoffs, and enjoying our Titans defeat Pittsburgh in overtime with the help of some fancy Joe Nedney theatrics. It was truly special sharing that experience with some die-hard Titans fans.

It has been challenging finding other Titans fans in our community outside of my family. I noticed that one of your recent inquiries last week came from a loyal Oilers/Titans fan who resides in Dallas. It would mean a lot to me if you could provide the opportunity to connect with him (and perhaps others in DFW) to catch some games this season. You are welcome to share my contact information with him and other Dallas/Fort Worth Titans fans who would like to show our Titans pride in this region. Thank you for considering this request, Jim, and for making such a positive impact for Titans fans across the nation (and world).

Here is the original post from last weekend’s mailbag:

Albert Gardner from Dallas, Texas

Question: Hey Jim, this is my first time writing but I’ve been reading since day one. I’ve been a long time Oiler/Titans fan since the Run&Shoot days with Warren Moon. I live in the Dallas, TX area so it’s always been a little lonely being a Titans fan around here.

My question is this: Steve McNair has always been my favorite Titan. Imo he was the heart and soul of our team and will be for time on end and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Eddie George, Warren Moon, Bruce Mathews, Jevon Kearse and many more. But with the way Marcus Mariota is progressing, I’m starting to think that I may have a new leader in my chair for greatest Titan. I’m thinking Mariota has a chance to not only be my greatest Titan but also the best QB in the NFL for a long time. What do you think Jim? Are you starting to get that same feeling?


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Titans veteran receiver Harry Douglas has played in 116 games over the past nine NFL seasons. He’s played alongside some great receivers. Douglas said he’s been impressed with Titans rookies Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans receiver Harry Douglas has seen plenty in his NFL career.

Douglas, heading into his 10th season, has played alongside some of the game’s greats at the receiver position, from Julio Jones in Atlanta to a future Hall of Famer in Andre Johnson, his teammate last season in Tennessee.
At this point, it’s impossible for him to say what the Titans have in draft picks Corey Davisand Taywan Taylor. While the two rookies have completed their first round of OTAs and a minicamp, they haven’t yet put on the pads for training camp.

Douglas, however, has an early hunch.

“Those two are special, man,” Douglas said. “I love their work ethic. I love how they play the game of football, and they are going to do big things for this football team.

“I can tell already they are going to be special. They listen, they go hard, and they both make plays. So it is good when you have young guys who can come in and do those things.”

Douglas, who entered the league in 2008 and has played in 116 games since, said he wants to help the young receivers any way possible. He gave them his phone number back in May.

Coach Mike Mularkey recently praised Douglas for his leadership skills.

“He’s been great,’’ Taylor said of Douglas.

“A big help,’’ added Davis.
“I just told them, whenever they need help, don’t hesitate to ask me,’’ Douglas said. “That’s why I am here. They can ask me about anything, hit me up with anything and talk to me.”

Davis, the fifth overall pick of the NFL Draft out of Western Michigan, wrapped up this month’s minicamp with momentum. He looked 100 percent in his return from an ankle injury, and made some impressive plays.

Taylor, a third-round pick from Western Kentucky, was consistent throughout the offseason.

Next up is training camp.

Douglas expects them to keep the momentum going.

“The way those guys work, their attention to detail, the effort they put out, their play-making ability,’’ Douglas said, “I have no doubt, they are going to be good. We drafted two great ones.”



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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray recently had surgery to repair a lingering issue with his right ring finger and will miss the remainder of the team’s OTAs.

“I thought it would heal but it didn’t heal over the offseason like we expected,” Murray said. “Nothing serious. If there was a game I would be playing. … Just a little lingering issue, thought I might as well just get it done now.”
DeMarco Murray wore a cast on his right hand in practice on Thursday after undergoing a procedure to repair an injury to his ring finger. Paul Kuharsky/ESPN
Murray said he hurt the finger Sept. 18, 2016, in the Titans’ win at Detroit.

Murray was missing from the Titans’ open OTA practice Tuesday and watched from the side Thursday as second-year back Derrick Henry took reps at the head of the line.

Henry will likely remain in that spot during next week’s minicamp.

“He should be ready to go. He wants to work next week; I’ll see, but he should be out of the cast Monday,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “If not, he’ll be back for camp, obviously he’ll be ready for training camp.”