Mike Vrabel spoke to reporters during a press conference on Monday, the first day of the team’s offseason program. The Titans new head coach sounded fired up, and ready to go.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Vrabel had waited for this day since he got the job back in January.On Monday, players were back in the building in full force for the start of the team’s offseason program. For the first time, Vrabel stood in front of players as a team in the morning at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
During an afternoon press conference, he said “there’s an energy in the building.”
“There wasn’t much sleep last night,” Vrabel said. “I was pretty excited to be able to come in here and stand up here in this room and talk to our players, see our coaches back there, see our general manager, and just start working with players and try to start building this thing like all really good teams and organizations and programs do.
“They start back over. They don’t necessarily pick up where they left off. They start back over.”The Titans went 9-7 in 2017, and advanced into the second round of the playoffs. Following the season, Vrabel was hired to replace Mike Mularkey. Until Monday, however, his contact with his new players had been limited.
In recent months, players worked out on their own in different locations, although some spent a good chunk of time working out at STSP. Vrabel had met a good number of them before Monday, but not the majority. In recent weeks, the Titans have added seven new players in free agency, and the roster has changed, even before the NFL Draft.
Vrabel said the day started with introductions, as many players and new coaches met for the first time.
“We kind of talked about what we thought the expectations were, or what were our objectives the first two weeks,” Vrabel said of the start of the offseason program. “We talked about learning, conditioning and communicating – really that’s what they can do. It’s Phase One rules. We meet, we lift, we run, and then we try and learn our teammates, learn our coaches, and we learn the system.”
Vrabel said he “didn’t take attendance and everybody understands it’s voluntary.” He said the overall health of the team is good, but reminded out loud there’s no injury report in April.
During Phase One of the offseason, which lasts two weeks, players are limited to strength and conditioning activities (“dead ball”); only strength and conditioning coaches allowed on field. Last week, the Titans announced Tom Kanavy would take over as the head strength and conditioning coach in place of Steve Watterson, who decided to retire.
There’s a 90-minute max on the field in Phase One. Clubs can only specify 2 hours for players to be at the facility, and players choose the other 2 hours for weights, etc.“The guys that were here seemed engaged,” he said. “I sat in on the offensive meetings and the defensive meetings and then we’ll get an update on what they looked like from a conditioning perspective, the ones that were here, from Tom and his crew.”
Vrabel said the playbook is complete. The process of developing players is now under way, he said.
But he said it’s just the first step, and first day, of a long process. He said things will be different compared to last year, but he said that’s the NFL.
“We really haven’t talked about a depth chart,” Vrabel said. “I think they all understand that (GM) Jon (Robinson) and I, we’re going to try and provide competition at every position within the roster. And then we’re also expecting them to compete in the classroom, to learn, to compete on the field, whether that is running, whether that is lifting.
“They are pro football players, they are pro athletes, so they understand there is a competitive spirit that needs to be in each and every one of us in order for us to reach our full potential.”
On Day One, it was clear Vrabel was ready to go.
He suspects his players had been looking forward to this day as well.
“This is a great time, to come back and be with your teammates, and take advantage,” he said. “We have a great facility and if they choose to come back and work, we are going to coach them.”