New Titans coach Brian Callahan goes back to basics to start offseason program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are getting to know each other, taking full advantage of the NFL giving new coaches a week’s head start to the offseason ahead of the rest of the league.

They started the voluntary portion of the first phase Monday, and first-time head coach Brian Callahan is taking nothing for granted.

Not even the basics such as huddling up, and yes, every extra minute helps.

“We’re sort of in a little bit of a sprint between now and the start of the season with every other team in the league, and we’re trying to do the best we can to catch up to the teams that are established and make sure that we’re ready to play in September,” Callahan said Wednesday.

Callahan, his new coordinators and assistants are using this first week as part orientation and part introduction. Like every NFL coach, Callahan does things differently, and this is his true debut with the Titans replacing Mike Vrabel, who was fired in January after a second straight losing season.

Quarterback Will Levis was among the Titans who showed up bright and early Monday. Callahan said the quarterback has to be not only a leader of the offense but the team in his second NFL season. The No. 33 overall pick last year out of Kentucky spent part of the offseason in California getting ready.

Callahan, who worked with Joe Burrow as offensive coordinator in Cincinnati, sees Levis wanting to be a great player. The coach is seeing some early signs of that already.

“He is front and center,” Callahan said of Levis. “He takes notes, he asks questions. He does all the things you’d want to see early in the process of a guy that’s trying to improve his game and get better.”

The Titans have been the NFL’s biggest spenders in free agency to start this offseason. They traded with Kansas City for cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and signed wide receiver Calvin Ridley along with center Lloyd Cushenberry, running back Tony Pollard and Cincinnati cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.

Offensive coordinator Nick Holz, with Ridley last season in Jacksonville as the Jaguars’ passing game coordinator, said he is happy to see the receiver rewarded after working through his suspension. Holz called Ridley a hard worker.

“Sometimes he’s so fast, he’s out of control,” Holz said. “But it’s pretty impressive. So I think we’ll be able to move him around a bunch. And him being a year further back into football, I think the transition for him will be pretty easy.”

Pollard and Tyjae Spears, Tennessee’s third-round pick last year, face the tall task of replacing four-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry. Holz says they’re interchangeable, which will allow the Titans to better disguise plays.

The current plan is to install Callahan’s entire offensive playbook and see what best fits these Titans, especially with the NFL draft still to come. Tennessee holds the seventh overall pick.

“We really don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into anything at this stage,” Holz said.

Defensive coordinator Dennard Wilson smiled when asked about Sneed joining Awuzie.

The AFC South has been very busy this offseason, especially reigning division champ Houston with its trade for Stefon Diggs. Wilson said wide receivers keep getting better and faster, so he’s focused on his own defense. He likes what he’ll have to help defend those opposing receivers.

“For us to go up there and have guys that can compete that aren’t scared of the competition, that’s going to line up and challenge guys as a defense, it makes you a better defense,” Wilson said.



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