TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Tennessee Titans are mostly glad to be away from Nashville for a week of practice in Arizona.
And they’re making the most of their time on the road and getting a little sun while they do it.
The Titans opted to stay in the Phoenix area and have practices at Arizona State after their game against the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday. They will travel to the Bay Area to play the 49ers on Sunday.
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From the team hotel to practice, the trip has allowed the Titans to spend time together off the field as well. It is viewed as a positive in this crucial time of the season for the Titans, who are 8-5 and trying to make the playoffs.
”We have a very close football team and they know exactly where we’re at at this time. They know the situation we’re in, the position we’re in,” coach Mike Mularkey said.
The change of scenery and surface has been beneficial from a football standpoint, and the players aren’t lacking for equipment they have in Tennessee.
”Obviously, the weather is helpful. Being on the grass, I think there was a chance we were going to have to go in and be on turf possibly in Nashville,” Mularkey said.
”Obviously, saving that travel time this weekend will be a bonus. We’ve gotten a lot of work done. Our guys can spend some more time studying up on the opponent, they can spend some more time in the spa and using the hot tubs and everything available to them to recover. It’s been a good experience.”
The team hotel was set up to give players plenty to do on the property, and they have had a number of off-field activities to choose from when practice is done.
Mularkey said a trip to a local driving range was organized as were excursions to the Phoenix Suns game Wednesday night and the Arizona Coyotes game Thursday night.
Players have also taken it upon themselves to find things to do.
”It’s a team-building experience,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard said.
”A lot of guys are hanging out, just getting to know each other better than we already do,” wide receiver Rishard Matthews said.
Tight end Delanie Walker missed the turf of the Titans’ facility, but said practicing on natural grass reminded the players of their younger days in football.
”When you practice in a $200 million facility, and then you come out here and you practice on dirt, it makes you open your eyes a little bit and get back to the fundamentals of football,” Walker said.
”I really wanted to go home, to be honest, but we’ve got to play with the cards we were dealt. But we’re doing a lot of team bonding, so I think that’s the great part about being here.”
Work is getting done on the field, and the sunshine seems to have had a rejuvenating effect. Which could be a plus as the season reaches the final weeks and the Titans are pushing to make the postseason.
”It’s been good for them from a body standpoint,” offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie said. ”Harry (Douglas) came out yesterday and was flying around, and everybody said `What is it?’ A couple of guys said it was being out here in the sun, in the heat.”
NOTES: TE Phillip Supernaw (ankle) did not practice Thursday, and S Johnathan Cyprien (back) was limited. LB Derrick Morgan (knee) was also limited, Mularkey said. All other players, including QB Marcus Mariota and LT Taylor Lewan, were full participants. Lewan had been dealing with back spasms.
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