Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

Titans refute national media

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Joe Biddle

The consensus among national media that cover the NFL is gloomy when it comes to the Titans.

Another losing season, they say. They forecast another season without making the playoffs. No surprise. The Titans haven’t gone there since 2008.

I have seen some predictions that have them finishing dead last in the AFC South.  

No one inside Saint Thomas Sports Park is buying it.

“We have goals. We have ambitions," safety Bernard Pollard said sharply.

So with training camp officially open, just where is this team headed? After the first two days, local media was asking Coach Ken Whisenhunt questions that will take much longer than 48 hours to answer.

“There’s a long way to go, man. It’s a marathon. We put a good grade up on the first day. It’s in the books and you keep moving forward," said Marc Mariani, who missed the last two seasons with injuries and is fighting to make the 53-man roster.

The competition is fierce at most, if not all, positions. It’s totally different from college where players are playing for rings. These Titans are playing for houses, cars and other expensive toys.
Titans wide receiver Nate Washington knows Whisenhunt better than anyone on the roster. He spent two seasons with Whisenhunt. Both were with the Steelers, where Whisenhunt was offensive coordinator from 2004 to 2006.

“He understands what perfection looks like," Washington said earlier this summer. “He understands what a Super Bowl looks like. He understands what it is going to take to move into the top tier of the NFL. He understands what it is going to take for us to get where we want to be, and that’s hoisting the Lombardi trophy at the end of the day."

The local media chronicles every play in practice sessions. Many were raising their eyebrows on Day 1 when quarterback Jake Locker suffered two interceptions at the hands of Pollard.

It is widely perceived that as Locker goes, so go the Titans. First thing Locker has to prove is that he can stay healthy for most, if not all, of this season. He also has to prove he can minimize mental mistakes and throwing passes to the opponents.

Locker doesn’t have that answer. Neither does Whisenhunt. There will be good days in training camp. There will be some not so good days. Players move up and down. The newly installed 3-4 defense will have glitches. Training camp is where it can get those corrected.

Although Pollard had two picks Saturday, he was not pleased with the defense. No way. No sir.

“If we want to be that team. If we want to be that defense, where we’re top five, we cannot let balls go over our head. We had a lot of those today," Pollard said after Day 1. “We’ll address it in meetings. We’re not going to stand for it."

Whisenhunt seems to be amused when asked questions about the Titans depth chart. For good reason. They started even before training camp opened.

Whisenhunt has set up a roster where there is fierce competition at almost every position. Likely there will still be open battles throughout training camp and into preseason games. That’s a good problem to have.

Whisenhunt admitted he tried to form a depth chart, but found it useless, as there will be too much movement.

“We’ll let it settle out," Whisenhunt said. “Everybody has an opportunity here."

Contact Wilson Post Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com. 

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