The Tennessee Titans officially began the Mike Munchak era today as the fist training camp under the new head coach kicked off at Baptist Sports Park.
Today’s first day of camp was not open to the public, and was threatened early by showers that might have forced the team to begin practice in the “bubble” indoor practice facility. However those showers dissipated and practice began outdoors.
A total of 81 players began the day on the camp roster, with all nine rookies draft picks signed and in camp on time.
The lone exception not in camp was All-Pro running back Chris Johnson, who officially began his hold-out for a new contract. The Titans buy league rule under the new collective bargaining can fine Johnson $30,000 for every day he does not report to camp while still under contract.
Johnson is scheduled to earn $800,000 for the 2011 season, but is holding out for a new contract in the range of $30 million in guaranteed money.
Other players who were in camp but did not participate in the on field work were newly signed free-agent quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and former Chiefs defensive tackle Shaun Smith, who by league rules cannot participate in practice until Thursday. Also Patrick Bailey and Tim Shaw did not practice today.
Kenny Britt was also held out of the afternoon work because of a slight hamstring issue. When speaking with reporters after practice Britt admitted that it was good to be back in Nashville so that he could work with Titans trainers.
He was asked about the off field issues that plagued him over the summer, and said that he has spoken with Head Coach Mike Munchak and that he has a “fresh start” and is not expecting any team punishment, however there is no official word from the league as to what, if any punishment might be forthcoming from New York.
Britt also had the line of the day after he commented that he had learned from his mistake, he was asked what he learned, to which he replied, “Stay out of New Jersey.”
Several individual players stood out in the opening day of work, including rookie defensive tackle Jurell Casey. Casey, a very soft spoken young man off the field showed why the Titans selected him in the third round.
On more than one occasion Casey showed surprising speed for someone his size, a tremendous power in shoving offensive linemen into the backfield and being a disruptive force in the middle.
Fellow rookie, quarterback Jake Locker also had some impressive moments taking all the first team snaps with Hasselbeck unable to participate. Locker looked comfortable and was impressive in 11 on 11 drills throwing from the pocket, something that the draft experts said was lacking in his senior season at Washington.
“It was fun, it’s been a long time, we been waiting to get back out there and it was good to get running around with the guys,” said Locker after practice.
Locker added “There is always some kind of nerves anytime you go out to compete,” but also added, “It was good, you always learn it better on the field when you get the opportunity to go out on the field and run through it and see live action, and that’s what we got to do today.”
New offense coordinator Chris Palmer was pleased with the overall offense on the first day of camp.
“We gave them a lot, they handled it, they worked hard, had a good tempo in practice and looking forward to tomorrow” said Palmer.
Also, an unconfirmed report from a Omaha, Nebraska television reporter Matt Schick surfaced via Twitter, when Titans Radio’s Jonathan Hutton tweeted that former Tampa Bay linebacker Barrett Rudd had signed with the Titans.
The Titans officially had nothing to announce on the matter, but has now been confirmed.
Ruud (28), out of the University of Nebraska, spent his entire six year career with Tampa Bay but was not resigned by the Bucs after last season.
He is thought to be a good linebacker on pass coverage, but was criticized for his lack of physicality in the run game.
Stephen Tulloch remains an unsigned free-agent, but the signing of Ruud all but signals the end of Tulloch’s days with the Titans.
Head Coach Mike Munchak also announced the re-signing of offensive guard Leroy Harris to a 2 year deal, terms were not released. Harris re-signing means that the entire offensive line from last season returns intact.
The team will practice on Sunday, July 31st at 6:30, that practice will be open to the public.