The Tennessee Titans held their seventh day of training camp Thursday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Here’s what stood out:
Ryan Tannehill throws first interception of training camp
Through six days of training camp, Ryan Tannehill had yet to throw an interception. But during a two-minute drill near the end of Thursday’s practice, safety Kevin Byard brought that streak to an end.
Tannehill threw an errant pass intended for Austin Hooper, and Byard came down with it. His defensive teammates rushed to celebrate with him.
“I had to end the streak today,” Byard said. “But no, Ryan’s been doing a great job of going through our defense. … To end the game with a pick is great.”
Quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara had said before practice that he didn’t want to jinx it, but that Tannehill’s play had been clean.
“There’s a correlation to how you practice to translate it to a game when you’re taking about taking care of the ball,” O’Hara said.
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MTSU football announces Kevin Byard jersey retirement | Watch
MTSU President Sidney McPhee announces after Titans practice Thursday that the Blue Raiders will retire Kevin Byard’s No. 20 jersey on Sept. 30 against UTSA.
Emma Healy, Nashville Tennessean
MTSU announces retirement from Kevin Byard’s number
Middle Tennessee State president Sidney McPhee announced at the conclusion of Thursday’s practice that the university will retire Byard’s number on Sept. 30 at the Blue Raiders’ game against UTSA.
Byard will join Teddy Morris as the only players in MTSU football history to have his number retired. Morris’ No. 14 was retired in 1965.
“I’m honored,” Byard said. “I’m almost at a loss for words, but I just want to say thank you. I’m very grateful. I know my mother would be very proud of me in this moment right now.”
While playing at MTSU, Byard became the program’s all-time leader in interceptions (19),ion return yards (377) and interception returns for touchdowns (4). He is one of nine players in school history with 300 or more tackles.
Malik Willis shows flashes but is inconsistent
Rookie quarterback Malik Willis is still settling into the Titans’ offense. Coach Mike Vrabel said Willis has made progress in terms of his decision-making, but he’s still working on putting it all together.
Willis showed of success Thursday, including three consecutive touchdowns during a 7-on-7 red zone period. First, he hit receiver Terry Godwin, then tight end Josh Malone, followed by a highlight-reel pass to Briley Moore in the back of the end zone over the head of Joshua Kalu.
But during the two-minute drill to end practice, which Vrabel described as “chaos,” Willis threw seven continuous incompletions.
“His feet need to catch up with his mind, and it’s getting better, but it takes time,” O’Hara said.
Ryan Tannehill corrects mistake from Kyle Philips
When a pass intended for Kyle Philips instead soared out of the back of the end zone, Tannehill rushed to correct the rookie pass catcher.
“I had a mental error,” Philips said. “The ball was supposed to go to me, so I really let the team down.”
Tannehill confronted Philips on the field after the mistake caused a missed opportunity on third down. One play later, the offense scored a touchdown.
“That’s a huge play for the team, so I let the whole team down,” Philips said. “Ryan talked to me and corrected it. We were able to come back to it, execute it and score a touchdown.”
Missing some big names
Defensive lineman Denico Autry and defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons were not spotted on the field. Autry was also not present for part of Tuesday’s practice.
Nickelback Elijah Molden missed his fourth straight practice, and linebacker Bud Dupree did not practice for the second straight day.
Center Ben Jones and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan did not practice but were spotted doing conditioning on the sideline.