t's time to see the Titans
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Aug. 06 2008
NASHVILLE, Tenn. As training camp practices go, the sessions known as "Super
Bowl XXXIV½" in 2000 was pure spectacle.
There was the sight of Tennessee wide receiver Kevin Dyson and Rams linebacker
Mike Jones, engulfed by reporters at midfield in Macomb, Ill., reliving "The
Tackle" arguably the greatest game-ending play in Super Bowl history just
six months after the fact.
On Friday morning, the second day of workouts, there were no less than four
skirmishes between Rams and Titans players.
Prized (at least to coach Mike Martz) rookie running back Trung Candidate
suffered a severe ankle sprain on what the Rams felt was a cheap shot by Titans
cornerback George McCullough.
Upset over what they thought was a lackluster practice performance then on
Thursday, Tennessee coaches apparently lit into their players to turn up the
"They wanted us to be more aggressive and stop all that lovey-dovey (stuff),"
Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse said at the time, "because we're not here to
be friends. We're here to get some work done."
Eight years later, the teams work against each other again in training camp.
This time the sight is Baptist Sports Park, the Titans' training facility in
Nashville. (Schedule in Rams Notebook, on this page.)
On Friday, the Rams hold a private walk-through session away from the Titans,
and then the teams face off in their exhibition opener Saturday night.
While looking for a break in the training camp monotony, as well as a more
intense practice atmosphere, Rams coach Scott Linehan doesn't expect things to
reach the level of 2000.
"I just want to change the intensity," Linehan said. "When you start going
against another team, and you're blocking people with different colored jerseys
on, things really change. And that's what I want to see from us."
Going up against another team, even in a practice setting, should provide that
spark. Of course practicing against someone else, particularly an aggressive
bunch such as the Titans under coach Jeff Fisher, could lead to more intensity
Look at the skirmishes of 2000. Martz banished wide receiver-return man Tony
Horne from the practice field near the end of one session that year after Horne
took a swing at Tennessee safety Perry Phenix.
"That's the only negative about working against another team," Linehan said.
"The part that you have to keep an eye on is that it doesn't get out of hand."
Linehan said the fact that he and Fisher have worked against other teams before
in training camp helps.
"You kind of know what to watch for," Linehan said. "That doesn't mean you're
not going to have stuff."
With higher intensity can come greater risk for injuries, and the Rams have had
their share during past joint practices with other teams:
In 2004 in Macomb, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy's second NFL season was
wrecked by a broken foot he suffered during one-on-one pass-rushing drills
against the Chicago Bears.
In 2000 against the Titans, there was the ankle injury to Canidate, plus a
severe wrist injury by rookie offensive lineman Kaulana Noa.
In 1996 against the Bears in Platteville, Wis., hard-hitting starting strong
safety Toby Wright suffered a severe hamstring injury.
But Linehan figures the potential rewards of practicing against another team
outweigh the risks. After 12 days of practicing against themselves, there can
be diminishing benefits of working against the same guys or the same plays.
That won't be the case with the Titans.
"First of all, they have a different defensive structure, so offensively we're
lining up against somebody that plays a different philosophy," Linehan said.
And the same holds true working against the Tennessee defense.
Each day practice in Nashville begins with the Rams working by themselves
during individual drills.
But once "team" drills begin, the Rams' defense will work against the Tennessee
offense on one field, while the Rams' offense works against the Tennessee
defense on an adjoining field.
"I think the whole idea is it 'ups' the competitive level of practice," Linehan
said. "There's no Knute Rockne (speeches) needed. You go out there and you're
ready to go. But you're also able to get real quality work."
Re: t's time to see the Titans
I do not Like the Tennessee Titans. I hope we demolish them in the game saturday. :) But the most important thing is that we have no injuries.