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Rain won’t hamper Titans in New Orleans

Terry McCormick TitanInsider.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:59 PM

Last week's debut for Jake Locker in the Titans new offense didn't exactly go as planned.

The rain saw to that more than did the Green Bay Packers.

Now, this week, perhaps the real progress made by Locker will be on display when the Titans travel to New Orleans to face the Saints Friday night.

Locker's progress thus far has been measured in practice. Based on Monday's work, the entire offense – including Locker – struggled. Things were improved on Tuesday and Wednesday, and though it's not known how much work Locker might get against the Saints, it is the quality that will count more than the quantity.

As for his assessment of the quarterback he inherited with the Titans, Whisenhunt seems encouraged.

“He's had his days where he's done overall a good job. I've been very pleased with that. I want to see him in a game where it's not a torrential downpour. I've seen enough from Jake to know that I really like him,” Whisenhunt said. “By no means is he going to be perfect. It's a hard position, but he's done a lot of good things.

“He had three touchdowns in the red zone (Tuesday). Those are the things that you like to see. There's gonna be days when it's not as good. That's the nature of the position. I've seen overall from the start to where we are now progress.”

Locker said that while he was disappointed with Monday's work, he and the offense used it as a learning tool once they watched the film.

“Throughout the course of a camp, I think both sides will have a day or two where you don't play your best football. It's just the nature of the game and you try your best to avoid it,” Locker said. “But inevitably in every camp I've ever been in, it happens, and it's all about how you respond to it. I thought we came out and responded really well to it, took care of the football for the most part. I'm excited about building on that.

“It's as bad as we've practiced in this camp, and for us to look at it, we can say, 'This can't happen again.'  'This is the place we need to get better' and then to come out and see the group move that way was really exciting.”

What will be even more exciting for Titans fans and Whisenhunt is if a lot of that carries over into Friday night and beyond.

New and improved Warmack

Chance Warmack (Alabama) was installed immediately as the starter for the Tennessee Titans as a rookie last year.

And while the first-round pick did OK in his first season, he now sees that there was so much to learn that could only be learned by doing. That's why Warmack, who is toned up to a “svelte” 323 pounds, believes that year two will be much better for him with the Titans.

“I just know what's expected, how the speed is gonna be,” Warmack said. “I have a better understanding of preparation in terms of how fast it's gonna be in a real actual game and how you need to know everything that you need to do. You can't think on the field. You have to be able to react.

“Everybody is telling you what to expect, but you really can't be ready for it until you experience it for yourself.”

Warmack is a key part of the makeover that has taken place on the Titans offensive line over the past two seasons. Only 10th-year left tackle Michael Roos has been a starter for the Titans for longer than two seasons. Now, it is just a matter of that line jelling together.

“We've learned so much in camp of what we can and can't do. We've still have a long way to go, but I feel like we're on the right track,” Warmack said.

Mettenberger homecoming

Friday night will be a homecoming of sorts for Zach Mettenberger, as he returns to Louisiana when the Tennessee Titans face the New Orleans Saints.

Mettenberger's game advanced last year with LSU when former NFL coach Cam Cameron came to Baton Rouge as offensive coordinator. It helped to prep Mettenberger for the road ahead in the NFL. Now, that road takes him to the Superdome where many of his college friends will be on hand to watch how much he has progressed.

“I have a lot of friends that are coming, so it'll be a fun experience going back down there,” Mettenberger said.

But that won't be foremost on Mettenberger's mind Friday night. Mettenberger should see plenty of playing time in the second half when the Titans empty their bench. In his debut last week, Mettenberger was up and down. He was stripped of the ball once and had a hard-luck interception. But he also directed a game-winning drive to beat Green Bay.

“There's nothing more valuable than reps at this point. You can study the offense all you want, but until you actually get live reps in the offense, that's where you really learn,” Mettenberger said. “I hope to get some good playing time this weekend and more as we go on in the preseason.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt is eager to give Mettenberger more work as well.

“It's really hard for a young guy, because he's not getting as many reps. You're gonna have more ups and downs with him. He's done a lot of good things and done some things he needs to get better at,” Whisenhunt said. “It was good to see him rebound in the game the other day and make those plays. He'll get some play time in the game this week. It'll be good to see how he responds to that.”

Roster moves

The Tennessee Titans signed veteran center Steve Vallos and linebacker Kendrick Adams on Wednesday, waiving linebacker David Gilbert and offensive Viondy Merisma to make room for the additions.

Due to the injuries to center Chris Spencer, the Titans needed some numbers at both center and linebacker. 

Vallos (6-3, 310) is a veteran of six NFL seasons and has spent last season with the Denver Broncos. He has bounced around the league with the Eagles, Jaguars, Browns and Seahawks, who drafted him in 2007.

Vallos worked out with the Titans on Tuesday and was signed on Wednesday afternoon.

“I was just working out and waiting for the call,” said Vallos, who lives in Seattle. “There's a lot of carryover. I was in Denver last year, and there was a lot of carryover.”

Adams (6-5, 250), who played at LSU, is an outside linebacker. He entered the NFL as a undrafted free agent, who originally signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over the past two seasons he spent time on the practice squads of Tampa Bay, Detroit, Cincinnati and New York Giants.

Bonani sits out

Kicker Maikon Bonani  (South Florida) did not do any kicking drills in Wednesday's Titans practice due to soreness in his groin.

Rookie kicker Travis Coons handled all the kicking chores during the special teams period in practice, and though Coons has been the more accurate of the two kickers thus far, Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Coons getting all the work was not a sign that he has gained the upper hand in the competition..

“Bonani's groin was bothering him a little bit. It wasn't anything other than that,” Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

The two kickers have been battling since the start of training camp. Bonani missed an extra point against Green Bay Saturday night, but part of the problem was the torrential rains and a snap that was a little bit high.

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