Tennessee Titans training camp Day 9: Roger McCreary, defensive backs come full circle

Emma Healy
Nashville Tennessean

The Tennessee Titans held their ninth day of training camp Sunday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Here's what stood out. 

Defense steps up in two-minute drill 

The Titans defense had plenty to celebrate in the first four plays of a two-minute drill near the end of practice. When quarterback Ryan Tannehill overshot receiver Robert Woods on the second play, rookie corner Roger McCreary had a clear shot at the ball and came up with the first interception of the day. 

It was just the second interception that Tannehill had thrown in training camp. 

Two plays later, with Tannehill on the sideline, the Titans' defensive line tipped rookie quarterback Malik Willis's pass at the line of scrimmage, and the ballt landed in the waiting hands of defensive back Joshua Kalu.

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Kalu and the other defensive backs opened practice working on tip drills during an individual period, so coach Mike Vrabel said Kalu's interception was an apt finish to the day. 

"That's good that we're being able to translate that work that we had in some of the individual drills that carry over," Vrabel said. 

The heat plays a role

Temperatures topped 90 degrees at Saint Thomas Sports Park, and the humidity hovered around 50% during training camp. It made for a tougher practice for the Titans players, even those who are used to the Tennessee summer heat. 

"We need these," center Ben Jones said. "You've got to push through. Football's not supposed to be easy. You've got to grind through days, and that was one of those days."

The combination of muggy air and unrelenting sunlight beating down on the field heightened the competition. 

"You find out guys who want to work and guys who want to compete on days like this when it's not easy," Jones said.

Tennessee Titans kicker Randy Bullock (14) walks off the field after a training camp practice at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.

Randy Bullock continues successful showing

Place-kicker Randy Bullock continued his training camp success, going 9-for-10 on field goals. He hit from 34, 36, 42, 45, 52, 43, 33, 33 and 26 yards. His only miss came from 56 yards. 

Undrafted rookie Caleb Shudak remains on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, leaving Bullock without any competition thus far in training camp. 

Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Justin Lawler (57) gets past Tennessee Titans tight end Chig Okonkwo (85) during pass rush drills during a training camp practice at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.

Jack Gibbens

Undrafted rookie linebacker Jack Gibbens turned Vrabel's head with a few big plays during training camp. 

Gibbens intercepted a pass off receiver Josh Malone’s hands on Friday, and on Sunday he stripped the ball from rookie tight end Chig Okonkwo to force an incompletion.

He earned the nickname "Dr. Gibby" from Vrabel soon after arriving at the Titans facility.

“Dr. Gibby is smart," Vrabel said Sunday. "He’s picked up the defense extremely well. He’s going to be fun to watch playing in the game. He gets everybody lined up. He knows exactly what to do."

No Amani Hooker, Denico Autry

Safety Amani Hooker and defensive lineman Denico Autry did not practice but were spotted doing conditioning on the sideline.

Defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, tight end Tommy Hudson, receiver Cody Hollister and linebacker Dylan Cole also did not practice but were spotted on the bike on the sideline. 

McCreary returned after missing Friday's practice. 

Corner Elijah Molden missed his sixth straight practice. 

Emma Healy is a sports reporting intern for The Tennessean. Contact her at ehealy@gannett.com or follow her on Twitter @_EmmaHealy_.