Our 6 biggest takeaways from Tennessee Titans' first open OTA session of 2022
The Tennessee Titans on Tuesday held their first open session of offseason organized team activities, where teams can hold 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills without live contact.
As the beginning of the third and final phase of the offseason program, OTAs are the first opportunity for veterans and rookies to practice together.
Here are six takeaways from Titans' practice Tuesday:
Big names absent
At least 10 veterans were not in attendance Tuesday: running back Derrick Henry; defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry; safety Kevin Byard; outside linebackers Bud Dupree and Harold Landry; inside linebackers Zach Cunningham and Monty Rice; guard Nate Davis and tight end Geoff Swaim.
OTAs are voluntary, and it's not uncommon to see established players not participate, though veteran newcomers such as tight end Austin Hooper, wide receiver Robert Woods and offensive lineman Jamarco Jones practiced.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, left tackle Taylor Lewan, center Ben Jones, second-year offensive lineman Dillon Radunz, nose tackle Teair Tart, inside linebacker David Long Jr., safety Amani Hooker and cornerbacks Kristian Fulton and Caleb Farley were among the projected starters to practice.
Second-year nickelback Elijah Molden was seen on the field but did not have a helmet on.
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Encouraging signs from injured players
Woods (knee), Farley (knee) and second-year outside linebacker Rashad Weaver (leg) saw their 2021 seasons end prematurely due to injury. All three practiced Tuesday.
While Weaver was held to just individual drills, Woods and Farley took part in team periods, though they wore noncontact yellow jerseys.
Fulton, receiver Racey McMath, defensive back Chris Jackson and tight end Briley Moore also wore noncontact yellow jerseys.
Like the first day of rookie minicamp earlier this month, first-round rookie receiver Treylon Burks was limited Tuesday. The ex-Arkansas star left practice at least two times to go inside the building.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel did not offer much clarity on the situation.
"We're just trying to make sure that everything that he does, he's continuing to improve," Vrabel said. "We talked to him a little bit about ball security, route running. ... There's a lot of terminology. There's a lot of places that they line up. So I think that he's working hard and try to improve."
Early signs of chemistry between Ryan Tannehill, Austin Hooper
Hooper is expected to be the Titans' No. 1 tight end, and he flashed several positive signs Tuesday. He caught several passes from Tannehill during team periods, a sign that he's already developing rapport with his new quarterback.
"I wish there's like a magic pill or like, go out to lunch or dinner one time," Hooper said of building chemistry with Tannehill. "But at the end of the day, it's throwing it within tight windows. I'm doing my best to make sure he feels comfortable with me. I take that very seriously. ... I'm rotating with four other guys, so every rep, it's the sense of urgency you've got to have. It has to be multiplied exponentially."
Dez Fitzpatrick shines
Second-year receiver Dez Fitzpatrick made an impressive contested catch over the middle during team drills, with safety Amani Hooker in coverage. It drew some of the largest cheers of the day from his teammates.
A 2021 fourth-round pick, Fitzpatrick spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad and was cut from the initial 53-man roster. He'll have an opportunity carve out a role in the receiving room in 2022.
Shudak kicks well
Caleb Shudak, an undrafted place kicker out of Iowa, went 7-for-8 on his field goals. The 5-foot-7 Shudak hit from 33, 37, 41, 44, 46, 38 and 45 yards. He was short on a 53-yarder.
Veteran Randy Bullock, who was on the field, did not kick.