NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bright-eyed and raring to go, the Tennessee Titans’ incoming class of drafted players and undrafted free agents donned team jerseys and hit the practice field late Friday afternoon for the first time as professionals.
For first-round draft pick Chance Warmack, it was finally a chance for the former Alabama guard to get a feel for what it will be like to be coached by not one, but two Pro Football Hall of Fame linemen.
“It was a great experience,” Warmack said of the direct tutoring from Titans head coach Mike Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews. They each paid particular attention Friday to their incoming crop of offense linemen that also includes center Brian Schwenke, a fourth-round draft pick out of California.
“(It’s) just learning from those guys, learning different techniques and the tempo you need to run in the NFL, just picking their brains, asking them questions to help me improve as a better player,” Warmack added. “You are going to go through some growing pains, like Coach Munchak said, and you’re going to make some mistakes.
“You just got to learn from them and do it each day.”
A lot is expected from the get-go from Warmack, the No. 10 overall draft pick. He is already slotted as opening-day starter at right guard opposite left guard Andy Levitre, the free agent signee who was generally regarded as the best player available at the position on the open market.
“If I can do my job and be a guy that everybody has high expectations of me being, then I can fill that role and help the team as much as possible,” Warmack said. “I just need to focus on me and doing what I need to do to help the team the best way I can do.”
Through his first few days as a professional football player, one notion stuck in rookie wide receiver Justin Hunter’s mind above all else. It was what he called zero tolerance.
Not so much for being a knucklehead off the field, because that is a given. But rather what struck Hunter was the complete expectation that every working moment is to be used to its fullest, whether it be in the film room, studying and eventually grasping the playbook, practicing at full speed and doing the due diligence in every aspect of physical preparations.
“Everything is faster,” said Hunter, a second-round draft pick out of Tennessee. “There is zero tolerance. They want everything to be precise. They want you to go hard every play.”
Other than challenging Titans wide receiver incumbents Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington for playing time, Hunter said the Titans want him to add seven pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame before start of training camp in late July.
“I know they are going to be very aggressive with that,” Hunter said of what’s to come from the Titans in the area of nutrition and training the next two-plus months. He said he weighs 195 pounds.
Other Titans draft picks participating in their first practice in the NFL were cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, a third-round pick out of UConn, defensive end Lavar Edwards (fifth round), cornerback Khalid Wooten (sixth round) and safety Daimon Stafford (seventh round).
Third-round draft pick Zaviar Gooden, an outside linebacker out of Missouri, was excused from Friday’s practice for personal reasons.
“It is always great to get the guys in finally after all that hard work in the draft,” Munchak said of rookie orientation that began with meetings all day Thursday and Friday morning before the first practice session later that day. The rookies – practicing in helmets, jerseys and shorts – were scheduled to practice and meet again today before taking Sunday off.
Munchak said he first met with the rookies as a group Thursday night. The complete team reports Monday for organized team activities as part of a six-week period of various on- and off-the-field instruction and training that started last week when the veterans reported.
“I talked with them about what’s going on and what we expect of them over this period of time,” he said of his initial 45-minute meeting with the rookies. “ … This is really like more of an orientation than anything as far as spending time with the coaches, getting used to drills, getting used to (strength and conditioning) coach (Steve) Watterson and that strength program.”
When asked about Hunter’s comments about there being a zero tolerance when it comes to the complete effort a professional athlete is expected to give, Munchak said: “I think that is with all of them. All the rookies have to realize – and, again, I think it needs to be explained – that there are differences.
“Every program is run differently. These are young men coming from all over the country, that are coming into our building, coming to the NFL. There are things that are done differently. I think it is our job to educate our players on what we expect from them – from how they handle themselves in the building, at practice, at dinner. They need to understand exactly what is expected of them.
“Then, you have a great chance of getting them to buy in and to follow rules right away.”
Notes: The Titans agreed to terms with 15 undrafted free agents: Eloy Atkinson (center, UTEP), George Baker (cornerback, South Florida), Maikon Bonani (kicker, South Florida), Stefan Charles (defensive tackle, Regina), John Doyle (tight end, Western Kentucky), Travis Harvey (wide receiver, Florida A&M), Stefphon Jefferson (running back, Nevada), Oscar Johnson (guard, Louisiana Tech), Nigel Nicholas (defensive end, Oklahoma State), Matthew Pierce (cornerback, Valdosta), Rashad Ross (wide receiver, Arizona State), Matt Sewell (tackle, McMaster), Dontel Watkins (wide receiver, Murray State), Jonathan Willard (linebacker, Clemson) and Tom Wort (linebacker, Oklahoma). … Watkins, a Nashville native, attended nearby Antioch High School before attending Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference … Wort did not pass a team physical because of a hamstring injury incurred during his pro day at Oklahoma.