3 big takeaways as Tennessee Titans complete mandatory minicamp practice

Ben Arthur
Nashville Tennessean
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The Tennessee Titans held their final practice of mandatory minicamp Wednesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park. They won’t hit the field again until training camp in late July. 

Here’s what stood out during the last practice of the offseason program:

Byard absent; No practice again for Simmons, Burks

Safety Kevin Byard was not in attendance. Coach Mike Vrabel did not elaborate on his absence after practice, but nodded in agreement when asked if everything was OK with the All-Pro defender. 

Star defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and first-round pick Treylon Burks didn’t practice, just like on Tuesday. Simmons did some work with a trainer off to the side. 

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When asked why he wasn’t practicing, Simmons said he has constructed a plan with coach Mike Vrabel and the training staff. He wouldn’t say whether he wasn’t practicing because of his contract situation or for health reasons. 

At least five other Titans didn’t practice: receiver Cody Hollister, place kicker Caleb Shudak, linebacker Monty Rice and tight ends Briley Moore and Tommy Hudson. 

Offensive lineman Aaron Brewer left the field early after individual work with a trainer. 

WR coach Moore: Burks will be ‘fine’ 

Wide receivers coach Rob Moore believes rookie receiver Treylon Burks will be “fine” moving forward. 

Moore revealed last week that the first-rounder has asthma, which is at least partially responsible as to why he was limited in offseason practices. Burks was last seen on the field June 1, the second open session of voluntary organized team activities. 

Moore said the former Arkansas star has still been able to pick up the installs even though he hasn’t been practicing. 

“We’re doing everything we can to keep him abreast. He’s doing a great job of responding to everything we’ve given him,” Moore said. “It’s tough when you’re young. When you’re young, you typically don’t have a whole lot of patience, but he understands it’s a process. He’s trying to control the things that he can control.”

Low red zone work a focus 

A large portion of practice was spent on low red zone 7-on-7 drills, where the quarterbacks and pass catchers can work on timing. 

Strong defense forced the quarterbacks to hold the ball a number of times, but the offense had a handful of highlights: 

  • Receiver Josh Malone, a Gallatin native and former Tennessee Vol, made a high catch in tight coverage against Greg Mabin in the back corner of the end zone. 
  • Receiver Reggie Roberson Jr., an undrafted rookie out of SMU, hauled in a beautiful touchdown against sticky coverage. Backup quarterback Logan Woodside made the back-shoulder throw. 
  • Rookie tight end Chig Okonknwo, the star of Tuesday’s practice, beat veteran cornerback Buster Skrine on an in-breaking route for a score. 
  • Running back Dontrell Hilliard scored back-to-back touchdowns at one point, first winning a one-on-one matchup with linebacker Zach Cunningham. 

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

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