Roger McCreary shines plus 7 other takeaways from Tennessee Titans training camp Day 4

Ben Arthur
Nashville Tennessean

The Tennessee Titans held their fourth day of training camp Saturday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Here’s what stood out: 

Fans present for first time since 2019

The Titans held their first of two practices open to the general public. It marked Tennessee’s first practice with fans since 2019. 

The team will have its second open practice next Friday. 

“They bring the excitement,” safety Amani Hooker said of the fans. “We can feel it when we’re out there playing. We like the atmosphere because that’s what it’s going to be like on game day. Obviously, there aren’t as many people. But we have families out here so guys are competing and it’s definitely fun.” 

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Ball security issues for offense

The offense turned the ball over on back-to-back plays in one of the last team periods. 

It started with a botched snap from reserve offensive lineman Daniel Munyer, which was recovered by  Hooker. Then tailback Dontrell Hilliard reached the second level on a run but fumbled the ball. 

“The teaching moment is you’re probably going to end up losing when you play like that, especially when it comes to ball security,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “I think it’s great that we can come back and finish practice and make some plays and finish strong offensively. But we can’t let those problems snowball. Let one mistake turn into another, lead to another. It’s good to have spirited practices, but we can’t let those things mount up.”

Ryan Tannehill, Robert Woods connect for play of the day

The offense looked less sharp overall, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill and receiver Robert Woods connected for the biggest highlight during 7-on-7s. Tannehill threw a nice deep ball down the sideline to Woods, who got up over Caleb Farley to make a beautiful catch.

Roger McCreary with highlight PBU in one-on-ones

The defensive backs had a stronger showing than the pass catchers, highlighted by rookie cornerback Roger McCreary.

Lined up against receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine in one rep, the second-round pick played off as Westbrook-Ikhine ran a go route up the sideline and deflected the would-be touchdown. 

“He has good speed and good feet,” Hooker said of McCreary. “He’s a physical guy, even though he’s small. He can still get physical at the line of scrimmage and he’s shown that early in camp.” 

One of the biggest offensive highlights came from first-round pick Treylon Burks, who sold a fade route but broke inside to make a catch against McCreary, who appeared to get tripped up. 

Malik Willis with room for improvement

Compared to previous days, rookie quarterback Malik Willis was more hesitant getting the ball out of his hands during a number of reps in 7-on-7 work and team periods. 

Vrabel said the coaching staff will continue to talk with the third-round pick about his timing, which is one of the things Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson said at the start of training camp they’d like to see Willis work the most on. 

“(Assistants) Pat (O’Hara) and Todd (Downing) have been trying to preach to him just to make sure that the timing improves because you only have a certain amount of time to get the pass off and the distribution of the route and everything ties into that,” Vrabel said.  “I think (overthinking happens) when you’re in a new situation and a new offense going against a defense with a lot of different multiple looks and disguises. We try to make it as hard as possible in practice and hopefully things will start to slow down, but that’s why you practice. That’s why you meet. That’s why you walk through. It’s so that you’re only thinking of having a couple details for each play.”

Feisty practice

For the first time during training camp, we saw feistiness during team periods. 

On the first play of 11-on-11s, nose tackle Teair Tart and right guard Nate Davis did some shoving after a run play. Later, Davis and defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons had a little dust up after a pass play before getting separated. 

Large group getting look at KR

Seven players took reps as kick returners: running back Trenton Cannon and receivers Burks, Kyle Philips, Racey McMath, Mason Kinsey, Terry Godwin and Brandon Lewis. 

Those looks are probably most valuable for Kinsey, Godwin and Lewis, who are clawing for roster spots. 

The Titans also appear committed to getting Burks a look on special teams. Tennessee’s top pick, Burks was also returning punts in previous practices. 

Ben Jones, Elijah Molden absent

Center Ben Jones and second-year nickelback Elijah Molden were not on the field, marking the first notable absences since training camp began Wednesday. 

Molden exited practice late Friday after coming up gimpy during a drill. Jones’ status is unknown. 

Up next

The Titans are off Sunday, but return to the field Monday for their first padded practice. 

Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at barthur@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.