By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — What is widely viewed as a pivotal season for the Titans formally begins when training camp opens July 26. The team announced last week that there will be two joint practices with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and one session in Nissan Stadium. The bulk of the practices will be held at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
The joint morning practices with the Patriots will be on August 14 and 15. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, going into his second year, has a long relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick dating back to Vrabel’s time with them. The Titans have previously held joint practices with the Carolina Panthers in 2017 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018. The public will able to attend nine of the 15 training camp sessions, and these are also free.
The free practices will be held on July 27 (9:50 a.m.), July 28 (10 a.m.), July 31 (9:50 a.m.), August 2 (9:50 a.m.), August 3 (6 p.m. at Nissan Stadium), August 10 (1:50 p.m.), August 11 (10 a.m.), August 14 (9:50 a.m. with Patriots), August 15 (9:50 a.m. also with Patriots). The six closed sessions will be held on weekdays, which have usually been the most sparsely attended.
For QB Marcus Mariota, this is his key year as well. It’s the season when his rookie deal ends, and the Titans must decide whether to give him franchise QB status and pay, or opt for another QB in the draft. He’s just one of the question marks that the next few weeks hope to answer. It’s also critical to see whether new acquisitions at receiver help open up the passing game, and whether Derrick Henry can provide for the Titans the entire season what he did in the second half.
Defensively, the hope is that new additions to the defensive line and linebacking corps will provide more firepower to the pass rush, and also increase the possibility of getting more turnovers. The Titans missed the playoffs by one game last season, and they know whether they can return will hinge on winning close games, their division record (they’ve yet to beat the Colts with a healthy Andrew Luck) and having a strong home record.
The past few years 10 wins has been a benchmark for most playoff teams. The Titans did get a wildcard berth two years ago with a 9-7 record, but ideally 10 at the minimum usually gets you into the playoffs. Their first preseason game is August 8 against the Eagles in Philadelphia.