Coach Munchak’s Tuesday Camp Report
(on his thoughts of the team’s first practice in full pads)
It was good. I think we had a full load on the schedule with two minute (offense) and run periods, half lines, pass rush and third-down blitzes, so it was good work that way. I thought they competed well. Both won at times, which is fun to watch, so I thought it was a good start.
(on signing first-round draft pick Kendall Wright)
Obviously we’re excited that we don’t have to talk about it any longer and hopefully can talk about the great things he’s doing on the field. I think he’s excited to finally be coming in and getting back to work and he loves the game, so I think he’s happy the business side is over. That’s the big plus. As far as his schedule, he’ll get in sometime either late tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow will be his day one. All he can do tomorrow is condition and meet with the coaches. We’re off anyway, so that works out fine, as far as being off for the players. The next day will be his day two, which means he can be on the field, but he can’t have shoulder pads on for Thursday or Friday. He can still participate on the field if we’re out here with helmets on and doing individual work and things like that, but once we go to the padded part of practice, he will not be able to participate until Saturday. On Saturday, when we go to the stadium, he can be 100 percent from then on. So, we just have to ease him in in that way like we did the rest of the players when they first started camp.
(on if Wright could fully participate if the team wasn’t in full pads)
Yeah. He could do everything if we didn’t have pads on.
(on if the team will change its padded practice schedule)
No. So, he’ll be able to participate, assuming we don’t change our schedule for any reason, he wouldn’t be able to participate in that part if we have pads on. If we don’t have pads on, obviously, he can participate. But we have practices, on Friday morning we’ll be without the helmets, so he’ll be able to practice full in that. On Friday he’ll be able to do individual work like that and once we start team drills, he’ll have to come out.
(on if Kendall Wright can adjust quickly to camp)
We do. I think he’ll spend a lot of time with (receivers coach) Dave Ragone tomorrow. He’s already been through it for seven or eight weeks with us (during organized team activity practices), so he’s got a good understanding of what we’re doing already, which is a big plus. He’ll just have to come out and get back in shape, get back in football shape and have the pads on and get hit and contact and all those things, but I can’t imagine that’s going to be a problem for him. This way, he’s here for Saturday when we’re at the stadium. He’s here for Monday (against) Atlanta and the preseason, so he’s going to have plenty of time to get a good feel for our offense.
(on if he’s seeing what he wants to see from the offensive line)
Well, it’s hard to watch until you watch tape of the practices. I know I coached them, but there were times when I thought they didn’t practice very well and I’d watch tape and they played pretty good. So I think they’re competing. This is the dog days for an offensive lineman, just from drill to drill. It’s half line, it’s pass rush, it’s two-minute drive, so we mix a lot of combinations in there. The defenses are doing a lot of blitzing, a lot of things going on today. So, we’ll just continue to evaluate those guys, and some of it looked really good and some of it, obviously, the defense looked good. It’s something (where) we’ll keep on getting better every day. When you go against good players every day, and you get the d-line and you you’ve got some good pressure packages, it’s just going to make the offense much better. That’s what’s fun to watch. The competition is what’s going to help us get better.
(on if there are improvements in the running game from the benefit of a full offseason)
Well, yeah, because the communication is a lot better. The reactions are better already on both sides of the ball. The defense is being a lot more aggressive than we were last year at this time. We’re attacking the line of scrimmage, which is what you want to see. We have the people to do that with the speed and strength in a lot of those spots. That puts a lot more on the offense, and it’s going to make them better. For me, I see it right away. I see the competition, the adjustments, the game within the game, which we didn’t see much last year in the first week or 10 days. We were just happy that the guys were learning the plays and getting to know what we were doing. This year, it’s more fun because you’re doing things like you would do in a game.
(on his evaluation of Jake Locker’s practice Tuesday)
I think the one period with the two-minute drive he had, we had a lot of blitzes there. We had some trouble with the protections, and it’s a combination of things. That’s why we always say that we have to evaluate by what’s around him, not just by where he was wrong or was the protection the problem, or receivers? There’s a lot of issues there, so that’s the things that we have to be aware of. Yeah, we were sloppy in that period. The whole group was in that period. You have to give credit to the defense and (defensive coordinator) Jerry (Gray) being aggressive and making plays.
(on if you manage a young quarterback’s psyche through good and bad days at training camp)
I think that’s the good thing is you get to see how guys recover from maybe not having a good period and going on to the next period. When you have a bad period, do you put it behind you to move forward? There’s a lot going on, and you just tell them, ‘Don’t press. Make plays one play at a time. That whole philosophy, you know, don’t get caught up in what’s going to go on in the next couple of days. Take care of what’s going on in the moment,’ and (Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck) are usually both pretty good at that. There’s going to be highs and lows, just like there is in the season, and that’s part of the evaluation to see how they both handle that. Like you said, Matt’s had more experience with that, and this is Jake’s second camp. Like I said, these guys are being tested out here. This is not a vanilla defense they’re seeing, which is exactly what we would want. That’s why this stuff is more valuable than the preseason games to some extent because it’s more complicated.
(on if players are allowed to come in on their scheduled off day Wednesday)
Oh yeah, they can come in and hold practice if they like to. Guys with treatment will obviously be here. Guys are definitely allowed to come in and do rehab, come get in the hot tub, cold tub. If they want to go home, guys that have family here, may go for a swim. It’s just to kind of get a chance to get away from it for a day and digest what we’ve gone through. We’ve gotten off to a good start. We know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but the players need to do what they need to do to get ready to come back on Thursday and get ready for the next grind: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. That’s kind of what you hope they do.
(on trying to prevent fatigue from hitting a couple of weeks into training camp)
Well, that’s what you’re hoping. This is where we thought it would be a good spot to do this. Having these practices, we’ve been on this field quite a bit, and so you’re hoping that they do the smart stuff — if you have to get in the cold tub, whatever it may be, whatever you might need. Younger players don’t need quite as much as maybe the older guys do. That’s been my experience that it changes with where you’re at in your career. Then we have it built-in the same way, where we have a five-day period where we get a lot of great work in — like I mentioned, the stadium Saturday and then Monday with Atlanta, and then we’ll get another break in before we start with Seattle. So, I think the schedule works out well for it that way that we’ll be as fresh as we can be. You’re going to be worn out from camp. There’s no way around it. You’re going to have to fight through the soreness, fight through the tiredness, fight through fatigue, not give into things that are easy to give into, and I think that’s part of staying in the hotel, staying away from home, being uncomfortable and dealing with the grind because that’s what the season’s like.
(on an interception by Robert Johnson and his progress)
Definitely. I think the DBs have been very aggressive. They’re going for the ball, they’re making plays. That’s exactly what we’re talking about that we really didn’t have last year. He’s a guy that we definitely want to see step up and contribute and keep him healthy and have a good preseason along with the other guys. So, I think we’re seeing a lot of competition out there, and that’s what I’m saying. We’re competing for the ball, we’re competing at the line of scrimmage. It’s fun to watch, so I think that will help us become a better football team. We have to know that sometimes it’s not going to look pretty. That’s football, that’s what competing looks like sometimes, and I think you want to see that on both sides of the ball.
Khris Davis Belts First Triple-A Homer In Win
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Sounds plated five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to wrap up their homestand with a come-from-behind 9-5 victory over Albuquerque on Tuesday evening at Greer Stadium in the finale of a five-game series
With the victory, Nashville (50-61) finished its nine-game stand with a 5-4 record despite dropping three of five to the Isotopes.
Trailing 5-4 entering the bottom of the eighth, the Sounds rallied for five runs in the frame to post the victory, marking the 16th time this season they’ve scored the winning run in their final turn at the plate.
Five Nashville batters posted two-hit efforts as part of the club’s 13-hit attack, led by outfielder Khris Davis (2-for-4, 3 RBIs), who belted his first Triple-A homer in his second game with the club.
Albuquerque took a 4-0 lead against Wily Peralta in the top of the first inning. After Scott Van Slyke put the visitors on the board with an RBI single, red-hot Isotopes outfielder Jerry Sands provided the big blow with a one-out, three-run homer to left, his 19th of the year.
Sands finished the five-game series against Nashville with a .524 average (11-for-21) with four home runs and 15 RBIs.
After the Sands homer, Peralta — who took a no-decision — calmed down to keep Albuquerque off the board over the next six innings, retiring 19 of his final 22 batters faced, including nine strikeouts.
The Sounds got onto the board in the second inning against Isotopes starter Will Savage. Taylor Green led off with a double to right and scored two batters later on Jordan Brown’s opposite-field double down the left field line that caromed off the glove of Sands, making it a 4-1 contest.
Davis evened the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the third when he belted his first career Triple-A home run, an opposite-field, three-run shot to right off Savage. Jeff Bianchi and Caleb Gindl each preceded Davis with singles before scoring on the roundtripper.
Isotopes third baseman Alex Castellanos put the visitors back in front, 5-4, in the eighth when he belted a two-out solo homer to left off Nashville reliever Donovan Hand. It was the infielder’s 14th home run of the season and third of the series.
Nashville answered immediately, putting up five runs in the bottom of the eighth to grab a 9-5 lead.
Davis led off with a single off Scott Rice, moved to second on a wild pitch, and advanced to third on a Green single. Sean Halton followed with a game-tying double to right to even the contest. After Brown drew a walk to load the bases with no outs, catcher Humberto Quintero chopped a go-ahead, two-run single over the left side of the drawn-in infield to give the Sounds their first lead of the night at 7-5.
Edwin Maysonet followed with a bunt single to the left side of the mound, which Rice grabbed and misfired to first that allowed both baserunners to score and Maysonet to advance to third.
Robert Wooten closed out the game with a perfect ninth for the Sounds. Hand (3-1) earned the victory as the beneficiary of the late Sounds rally, while Rice (0-2) absorbed the loss for the ‘Topes.
On Wednesday, the Sounds embark on an eight-game road trip, which begins with a 9:05 p.m. opener of a four-game series at Fresno (AAA-Giants). Right-hander Brian Baker (2-4, 5.15) will make the start for the Sounds. He’ll face Grizzlies left-hander Clayton Tanner (0-1, 7.80).
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Ross Brown, who has had 18 years of college head-coaching experience, has been named head tennis coach at Austin Peay State University.
Brown replaces Malik Tabet, who resigned last spring after three years as head coach.
Brown served as men’s head coach at Evansville from 1991-2001 before moving to become Southern Indiana men’s coach from 2001-08. He left the coaching profession after the 2008 season to serve as Fujairah Tennis and County Club general manager in United Arab Emirates for 2 ½ years. He spent the last 1 ½ years tending to family matters back home in Rockingham, Australia.
“The opportunity to work with men and women certainly is appealing with to me,” Brown said. “I have had opportunity to coach (girls) at the junior level. Austin Peay has a good tradition with tennis. The indoor facility adds to the program and the University, I understand, continues to grow. I also enjoyed my interaction with Coach (Cheryl) Holt (assistant athletics director).
“There were just so many positives that I liked about Austin Peay. Everyone that I have met was so friendly.
“Austin Peay is close to Evansville and after being overseas for a few years, that was certainly appealing to me as well. It was just a good mix.”
“I think Coach Brown brings a wealth of experience to the program,” Holt said. “He has demonstrated he is very capable—he can coach the game of tennis. He has had successful careers at both Evansville and Southern Indiana.
“He has shown he has good success. He knows how to recruit. An international himself, he certainly has the contacts to recruit internationally if so chooses to do so. He is an individual, who with his experience, will continue to help build both our tennis programs.”
As a college head coach, Brown led Southern Indiana to the 2005 Great Lakes Valley Conference tennis championship with a 23-6 record and Brown was named Coach of the Year for his efforts. He also coached Joe Epkey to the Division II National Championship match.
While at Evansville he recorded more than 100 victories and was named the 1994 Midwest College Coach of the Year.
In his time at Fujairah Tennis and Country Club he helped expand membership from 105 to 805. He also served as Director of the Maktoum Championships, the second largest sporting even during Ramadan in U.A. E.
He also served as co-owner and head professional at Advantage Court and Fitness in Evansville from 1997-2005. He also served as Competitive Edge and Junior Camp Director at the John Newcomb Tennis Ranch in Australia back in the mid-1980s.
His college coaching background has on the men’s side, but Brown has coached several junior women tennis players at both Fujairah and Advantage, in particular Stephanie Hazlett, who won five national junior United States Tennis Association Titles and later played at Florida. He also coached Indiana and Kentucky High School champions.
In addition his two daughters, Bayley (Lewis College) and Brittany (Kansas/Evansville) went on to play college tennis.
“I feel like I have had maybe more success coaching young ladies in junior tennis than guys,” Brown said. “I have coach several (women) who went on to receive college scholarship and when I was at Newcombe’s Tennis Ranch I coached a young lady who reached the finals of the Mexican National Championship.”
Brown believes his background and continuing passion for the sport will be reflective in his coaching style.
“I bring knowledge and experience to the program,” Brown said. “I hope I also bring fun. Of course, the goal of any coach is to win conference championships.
“I believe I have good recruiting contacts—I want to get some foreign players—but I also want to focus on getting players from Tennessee and the south region. “
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans wore shoulder pads for the first time Monday, and the increased contact allowed for more comprehensive assessments, players said.
Understandably, the positions with the most likely contact on each play — offensive and defensive line, fullback, tight end and linebacker — were in highest anticipation of putting on the pads. That will continue at 3:45 Tuesday when the team wears full pads for the first time in a practice that is free and open for the public to attend.
Players progressed through a series of drills Monday that included 1-on-1 matchups on pass routes and blocking schemes, 7-on-7 drills and finally 11-on-11.
“There was a lot of good work out there today on both sides,” defensive end Kamerion Wimbley said. “Guys definitely want to see where they’re at, and the only way you can truly gauge where you’re at as far as coming into the season and being in shape and ready is by putting the pads on and going out there and banging a little bit, so I think it was great for us to be able to do that, and I think everybody has a good gauge of where we’re at.
“To me, it’s fun to be able to step up and compete with a guy 1-on-1,” Wimbley said. “It’s just you and him and may the best man win.”
Fullback Quinn Johnson delivered a resounding thump when he ran a pass route over the middle during the 1-on-1 segment.
“Playing fullback, I don’t really get to do or show what I can do until I get an opportunity to put the pads on, so I was excited to put the pads on,” Johnson said. “I just couldn’t wait to get that first lick in. That just happened to be it. You can pretty much be as physical as you want (when you have shoulder pads on).
There were a few exchanges where offensive and defensive players were still adjusting to the increased intensity and remained engaged after the play.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said he is fine with the players being intense, as long as it doesn’t escalate into a situation where someone could get hurt or draw a 15-yard penalty in a game. Munchak added that players should continue to focus on technique.
“I think it’s just a matter of bending our knees more, getting our pads down, a couple of things,” Munchak said. “Usually, the defense is ahead of the offense on things like that, but it’s hard to tell when you’re watching. It’s more like going back on tape and seeing some of those things.
“We did a lot of stuff out here,” Munchak continued. “We’re not game-planning each other; sometimes there will be some plays that don’t look real pretty with the offense going against the defense and sometimes the offense will have an advantage. Those things are going to happen at times, and it’s just more about the technique and the learning that you’re paying attention to out there.”
MOUTON MENDED: Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton turned in a solid practice that included an interception Monday. It was another step in the right direction for Mouton, a 2009 third-round draft pick, who suffered an Achilles injury in the first week of 2011 training camp and hasn’t played in a football game since Nov. 21, 2010.
“It’s a great feeling, Mouton said of the interception. “Your eyes get big and you’re trying to make sure you make the play. It’s been over a year since I’ve been in pads. I feel great. I stayed here all offseason, working with those guys in the training room, and they’re doing their best to get me back here to feeling 100 percent and ready to go. I feel like I’m a better player, just for the fact that (new secondary coach Brett) Maxie has helped out as far as technique and learning how to play the position.”
Mouton has played special teams, cornerback, nickel and dime in pass defense situations and has persevered through injuries. The Titans have made changes at head coach, defensive coordinator, secondary and assistant secondary coach positions since Mouton last took a snap in a game.
He appeared in 23 games in his first two seasons, including two starts in his rookie campaign, and said he just wants to be in consideration for helping the team any way possible.
“We’re deep at corner right now, so there’s competition out there,” Mouton said. “The chemistry with those guys, we’re all looking to help each other out. We’re able to compete and push each other, and the best are going to be there. A guy goes out and makes a play, you’re going to try to make a play the next time you’re out.”
Munchak said he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from Mouton so far in organized team activity practices and camp.
“He is a tough kid; last year we didn’t get a chance to see him because of the injury right from the start,” Munchak said. “He got drafted for a reason. I like his attitude, for special teams he is a guy that helps you there too. He is aggressive on the field, he takes chances, and so far so good. This is what you are hoping to see from the kid. You are happy for him because he came back. That is a long rehab. He got hurt the first week of training camp and he just got out here during OTAs, so you’re happy that he gets a chance to show people what he can do.”
QB PROGRESSION: Munchak said he is still impressed with the play of veteran Matt Hasselbeck and second-year pro Jake Locker as the two compete for the starting job. He said the team is continuing to add complexity as it prepares for a closed practice Saturday in which the Titans will simulate more game-like situations and a joint practice with the Atlanta Falcons next Monday in Dalton, Ga., that is open to fans of both teams.
“We are adding plays in a few more days, once you get to the weekend we will have everything in and practice is more interesting to watch for us,” Munchak said. “Having a game-like practice on Saturday at the end of the week and with Monday in Atlanta, those are the things that will help us evaluate a lot of things.”
By Gary Glenn, Titans Online
In his first two NFL seasons, Marc Mariani has made his living as one of the NFL’s top kick returners. He made the Pro Bowl his rookie year as the AFC’s top return man and enjoyed another productive season on special teams in 2011.
But Mariani has bigger goals, including a desire to be on the field Sunday afternoons catching passes.
And he’s working hard to make his case.
Prior to joining the Titans as a seventh-round pick in 2010, Mariani ended his collegiate career as the most prolific receiver and all-purpose player in Montana history, setting school marks in career receiving yards (3,018) and receiving touchdowns (29). His 164 receptions and 200 career points rank seventh in the Grizzlies’ record book.
But playing fifth-string behind Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins with the Titans, Mariani’s opportunities have been limited on offense. His five career receptions for 24 yards all came last season, however, he’s hoping that will change.
With Britt still sidelined by knee issues and top draft pick Kendall Wright not yet signed, Mariani is receiving extra reps early on in training camp, an opportunity the third-year pro is looking to take full advantage of.
“Every rep I can get is huge for me,” Mariani said after Monday’s practice. “I don’t have a lot of game day experience, but playing against our DBs every day is the best competition I can get. They are top notch, so it’s making me better. I want to do the best I can with every rep I get and improve every day.”
Mariani, whose playing style has drawn comparisons to New England’s Wes Welker, said he took advantage of his first full NFL off-season, taking notes from veterans like Washington, while talking every day with receivers coach Dave Ragone.
“It’s been fun learning things from them to build my game,” Mariani said. “Now I’m out there working and not thinking as much, just playing fast and the game is coming to me a lot better. I’m just trying to improve and do my part so I can help out on Sundays.”
Head coach Mike Munchak said Mariani’s teammates have taken notice.
“The quarterbacks have confidence in him, I know that,” Munchak said. “I think he’s developed a confidence in himself that he knows how to make adjustments. He’s not limited to a couple of routes or couple of plays, maybe as we had last year with him. The confidence now is that he can do a lot more, and we’ll have to see what happens, especially during the preseason.”
The exhibition games will give Mariani an opportunity to prove he’s more than just a kick returner — even if he is one of the NFL’s best.
“Obviously, I’ve made my way in the return game so far, but I think of myself as a receiver,” Mariani said. “I’m a hard worker and I want to be out there catching passes on Sunday for sure. I’m extremely competitive and I want to be the best that I can be. It means a lot to me and I take pride in it.”