Friday, April 30, 2010
First impressions: Titans rookies practice
By Paul Kuharsky
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It’s out of training and combine mode, back into football mode for Titans rookies, who hit the field Friday for two orientation practices and have another Saturday before heading home.
Safety Myron Rolle said he’s picked up on two big things so far: Punctuality and volume.
“It’s just a massive amount of information that you’re expected to know, quickly,” Rolle said. “And be on time, be five or 10 minutes early. Coaches just don’t like that and it doesn’t make a good impression either.”
Quick thoughts on my first impression of draftees from the second practice, which ran less than 90 minutes and included 24 players:
Defensive end Derrick Morgan -- I didn’t see the defensive linemen except when they did a bit of special teams work. Their area of the field’s been re-sodded, so they worked inside the practice bubble and never lined up across from offensive linemen.
I asked Morgan about the biggest change he feels coming.
“I’m kind of understanding more and more what Coach [Jim] Washburn wants from us and what he wants from me coming off the edge,” Morgan said. “My aiming points coming off the edge and what my aiming points were. Really it’s a lot different. It’s more so just cutting it loose and making something happen. Back at school it was more so reading the guy in front of you. Now you’re coming off, you’re going 100 miles an hour and you’re making the guy in front of you react to you.”
Wide receiver Damian Williams -- Not quite as tall as I was imagining, he had a nice advantage in one-on-ones since the defensive group is three-fourth safeties. I heard one other sideline observe call him slithery, but thought it was premature based on the small sampling. He did some good things against mostly guys he should beat in given the drill and personnel. He looked pretty tired near the end, walking back to the line of scrimmage as if he was hurting.
Linebacker Rennie Curran -- “There were some times where I missed on a play in a one-on-one situation and a back got by me,” he said. “I’ve just got to finish a play, got to show them that I can hustle and I don’t get down on myself in adversity.”
Cornerback Alterraun Verner --I saw good ball sense. While he didn’t always maintain great position on receivers in one-on-ones, he always seemed to know where the ball was. He stayed with Mico McSwain to assure a breakup was all the way broken up and on another play, he nearly turned a bobbled and dropped ball by Bobby Sewall into a behind the back interception but at least made sure it was incomplete.
Safety Robert Johnson -- He’s lanky and doesn’t look like he’s 203 pounds, but that’s what they say he is and I am no doubter. He looks a little like Bobby Myers body-wise. He ran well with Marc Mariani on a ball that was thrown well beyond them both and had a quick close on McSwain for a breakup. Clearly the better coverage safety of the two drafted safeties, as we presumed he would be.
Quarterback Rusty Smith -- The guy Jeff Fisher and Mike Heimerdinger described after the Titans drafted Smith in the sixth round was just the guy we saw. Tall, poised, threw the ball on target and with great zip. He’s got a nice quick delivery without a lot of wasted motion and throws a tight, fast spiral. He looks the part. One ball slipped out and was a duck and he seemed to do well laughing it off as Dinger called it “just a bit outside.”
Rolle -- Ran up the back of a receiver more than once and didn’t look particularly in coverage. I’m sure he’ll be better and tracking and closing on running backs when we get to watch that.
Mariani -- He’s wearing 83, so the first thing I thought was “smaller Drew Bennett.” Then someone saw him run a few routes and catch a few balls and said poor man’s Wes Welker, which made me think poor man’s Julian Edelman. He caught the ball very well, always with his hands and seemed to be running to the right spots. I was impressed.
Defensive tackle David Howard -- Missed him on the field, like I did Morgan, and didn’t get a chance to talk with him in the locker room either.