Five Titans Who Could Use On-Field Offseason Work

The NFLPA would like an entirely virtual offseason for the second straight year. The league has made other plans.
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The NFL has detailed how it expects the offseason to go, and the NFL Players Association is not exactly happy about it.

One of the key components of plan, as revealed to teams in a memo on Wednesday, is that mandatory minicamps are permitted during part three of the offseason program, which runs from May 24 through June 18. Teams also are allowed to conduct voluntary, on-field practices, typically called organized team activities (OTAs), during the second phase of the offseason, a segment that also typically includes rookie orientations.

It is a distinct departure from a year ago, when all offseason activities that preceded training camp were conducted virtually. The players union has lobbied for another fully virtual offseason due to concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and several teams collectively have said they would skip offseason workouts.

The Titans have not declared a collective stance on the issue, but there are undoubtedly some on the roster who would rather stay away until the end of July.

“I definitely think there is value in not having to put reps on guys who don’t necessarily need the no-pads, OTA reps,” tackle Ty Sambrailo said last month. “I do understand there is a need for young guys to get experience in the system and get experience with players and coaches in those systems.

“So, I do understand there’s discussions to be had on both sides, in terms of the value of the offseason, but I, personally – as an older guy – I think virtual offseasons are great. You take care of your business. You be professional. And you get the information you need.”

Here are five current members of the Titans who definitely could benefit from some on-field work during the offseason:

Kristian Fulton, CB – Not only did Tennessee’s second-round pick in the 2020 draft not get the benefit of practice time prior to his rookie year, he also missed time (practices and games) during the season because he was on the COVID-19 reserve list and then sustained a knee injury that sidelined him for two months. The overhaul of the secondary means coaches will look to Fulton to play a big role, possibly even a full-time one, this season. It certainly would help if he has a chance to work at it.

Aaron Brewer, OL – He was something of a surprise when he made the roster as an undrafted rookie out of Texas State, but it is clear that coaches see something in him that they like. When left guard Rodger Saffold missed a game in November, it was Brewer who started in his place. He can play guard. He can play center. With Saffold and center Ben Jones well into their 30s, Brewer might just be a long-term replacement for one of them. Of course, it would be helpful for him to get the time to show where he fits best and to have the time to refine his technique to prepare for when that time arrives.

Josh Reynolds, WR – Presumably, there is not a route in the Titans’ playbook that Reynolds did not run during his four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. However, it is the timing of those routes and how they fit together with the overall play call that can vary from team to team, based on the coordinator and the quarterback. The offense benefited greatly in 2020 from the fact that all of Ryan Tannehill’s top targets from 2019 returned. That won’t be the case this time, and Reynolds needs an opportunity to work with Tannehill in order for them to build trust.

Amani Hooker, SS – After two years with the franchise, he knows the defense and he knows his teammates. As the almost-certain replacement for Kenny Vaccaro, though, Hooker has to form a partnership with free safety Kevin Byard that allows the two of them to communicate non-verbally and to read off one another in ways that can confuse opposing quarterbacks and rather than create opportunities for the other team. It will be tough to create that connection quickly if those two do not spend time together on the practice field.

Logan Woodside, QB – Throughout the entire 2020 offseason, Woodside was the only experienced quarterback other than Tannehill on the roster – and at that point he never had thrown a regular-season pass. Then, weeks into training camp the Titans signed Trevor Siemian. Maybe, it was simply a matter of basic roster management. Or perhaps no one was fully confident in him as Tannehill’s backup. Either way, he was not put to the test because Tannehill stayed healthy. Running the offense at times during the offseason would go a long way toward him putting people’s minds at ease prior to this year’s camp.