Titans' Warmack hits practice field after ending holdout
NASHVILLE – There was no chance that Chance Warmack could skate through Tuesday without catching grief from his Titans teammates.
On Monday, the former Alabama guard became the last first-round pick from this year's draft class to sign a contract, ending a five-day holdout that caused him to miss four days of practice time.
"It was cool, man," Warmack said early this afternoon about what he was hearing from teammates, especially fellow offensive linemen, while going through a team walk-through. "They were giving me a hard time. They're still giving me a hard time.
"It's all fun, man. I'm having a good time being back. 'Big Money' is back. The new guy is here.' I hear all that stuff. It's all good."
Big money, indeed.
On Monday, the No. 10 overall draft pick agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth around $12.2 million that includes a $7.2 million signing bonus. The contract is fully guaranteed and provides the Titans with an option for a fifth year.
The contract also included the "offset language" the Titans sought and had been a sticking point in the negotiations. It allows a team to save money on guaranteed parts of a contract should the player be released and then signed by another team.
"I'm a football player first," said Warmack, who has been conditioning in Tuscaloosa, Ala., while waiting for the contract to be finalized. "My main focus is just football. I let my agent worry about the logistics of the business part. I just wanted to get back on the field as soon as possible."
After passing a physical, he joined the team Tuesday morning for the brief walk-through. The Titans second training camp practice in full pads was set for later in the day.
"Definitely as an offensive lineman, you've got to mesh with your teammates, especially with the other offensive linemen," said the 6-foot-2, 323-pound Warmack, who is slated to start at right guard in the season opener Sept. 8 at Pittsburgh. "So, yeah, I worried about missing those days because it takes longer to catch up."
Warmack's initial training camp appearance was not lost on teammates, especially fellow offensive linemen. Ninth-year left tackle Michael Roos, the leader of the group, said he hadn't figured out just yet how to welcome his rookie teammate in a very special way.
"Nothing yet," Roos said of what was planned for Warmack. "We got here in the morning, lifted weights, practiced, so I really haven't had a chance to think of anything yet. I have a little break here to think about some stuff."
Like, just maybe, Warmack picking up a dinner tab for all the offensive linemen.
"I don't know what they are going to do to me," Warmack said. "Now that I've got some money in the bank, I can make it happen now."
Tuesday night, all five projected offensive line starters, including Fernando Velasco at center, will practice together for the first time. Roos (shoulder), left guard Andy Levitre (knee) and right guard David Stewart (leg) did not participate in voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) and mandatory mini-camp this spring while recovering from injuries. Levitre, formerly with the Bills, signed with the Titans as a free agent.
"I think it will be a fun test for him just to see where he is at," Roos said of Warmack. "He only missed four day (of practice), so that's not so bad. We installed everything in the spring, and he knows everything.
"So, it's just a matter of seeing at the speed he will be playing at, because it is a little bit faster than the OTAs."
Across the line, there are a few Titans defensive tackles eager to put Warmack to the test.
"I am sure they are going to be looking forward to seeing what they can do against him, which is rightfully so," Roos said. "He should be ready for that. That's the way that it is -– life of a rookie."
Veteran defensive tackle Sammie Hill, the free-agent signee formerly with Detroit, confirmed that, indeed, he will use his wide girth of 328 pounds on his 6-4 frame to test Warmack right away.
"My boy, he's back," Hill said of Warmack. "You've got to go out there and see what my boy is working with. I know he is going to be OK, man. Chance is a hard worker, and he showed what he could do in college last year.
"And now that he is in the pros, I think he is going to do really well. I really think he can be special. He has a lot of strength and power."
Still, Warmack knows he remains a rookie, one who is a few days behind the learning curve because of the holdout. Even so, the Titans have ordained him as an anchor for the interior of their offensive line for many years to come.
"You have to go through training camp," Warmack said of being listed atop the team's depth chart at right guard. "Everybody here has an opportunity to be a starter. I just want to prove my worth and prove my ability there. I want to start just like everybody else."