It took all of two training camp practices for the kicker issue to come to forefront for the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans, who opted to allow untested youngsters Tucker McCann and Blake Haubeil battle it out in training camp, saw both of them have a rough practice on day two of the competition.
Both Tucker and Haubeil missed two of their five kicks in practice during the special teams period on Thursday, begging the question of whether or not the Titans need to bring a veteran kicker to camp.
“I think that they track kicks, we obviously track the kicks that are in the team periods, and then those kicks that go on with Auk (Craig Aukerman) and some of their work off on the side. I think a big piece of it is when the whole team is there and they have to go out and execute with a rush or half a rush, or whatever it may be. There wasn’t much today. I would say that it is critical and the consistency of it is always something that we will look at as well,” Vrabel said.
When asked about the kickers struggles, Vrabel offered that it was part of a day where the Titans overall weren't so crisp, with some fumbled snaps on offense and other miscues on day two.
“I think they had plenty of company. I think they had plenty of company throughout the team. I think that was certainly not our best day. We are going to have to come back and be much more consistent. But yeah, we have to make them. That is how you are evaluated is whether you make them or not and like you said, we were 60 percent as a group today,” Vrabel said.
The Titans have not yet brought back Stephen Gostkowski, who was 18 of 26 last year, came on at the end of the preseason in 2020 and endured a rough stretch in the middle of the season to finish strong last year.
Bud Dupree, already on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) due to knee surgery from when he was still a Pittsburgh Steeler, was added to the Covid-19 reserve list by the Titans on Thursday.
Dupree was signed by the Titans in the off-season with the hope that he can bolster their anemic pass rush that produced just 19 sacks a year ago.
Backup QB battle
Another battle to watch is the backup quarterback spot where Deshone Kizer is trying to unseat Logan Woodside. Kizer had an interception in Wednesday's first day of work.
Vrabel said Thursday that Woodside and Kizer will alternate getting to work with the second group and the third group as camp goes on.
“That is going to rotate daily as it relates to the backup quarterback position. Making sure that those guys are getting equal reps and an equal opportunity with each group. One group will be with the 2’s and one group will be with the 3’s and rotate that each day,” Vrabel said. “Try to evaluate that and again, it is tough sometimes because the looks aren’t great, or the protection, or we’re down a couple guys. I think that is also part of their evaluation is how they respond to that, and how they get that group they are working with to get lined up in the right spot to do what they are supposed to be doing. That leadership role and making sure that those guys maybe perform better than what they had been.”
Hudson getting opportunity
Beyond the top two players at the position – Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim – the Titans have a number of candidates for their third and even fourth tight end spots on the roster.
Early in camp, Tommy Hudson has been getting some opportunities to prove himself worthy of a roster spot. Hudson split last year between the Titans practice squad and being suspended for violating the league's performance-enhancing substances policy.
Coach Mike Vrabel noted that Hudson has shown improvement.
“I think if you look back historically, the numbers with those tight ends have decreased. Ten or 11 of them, I don’t even really know, are getting drafted. I don’t know what the average is. There is just no – you only have so much to choose from when you are talking about the draft and player acquisition,” Vrabel said. “Tommy improved over the course of last year on the practice squad and now I would say he is doing things that are going to help him and get him noticed and help him in that role. He is on the punt team, he is playing special teams, so those are all positive steps.”
Others in camp at tight end include former Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinckney and undrafted rookies Miller Forristall and Briley Moore.