Tennessee’s joint practices canceled after injury to Patriots cornerback Bolden

By Teresa M. Walker – AP Pro Football Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans will focus on themselves during the final week of training camp after the New England Patriots canceled their two joint practices following the injury to cornerback Isaiah Bolden.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel said Sunday that the Patriots informed them Saturday night about the change in plans after Bolden was carted off the field in the fourth quarter of New England’s exhibition game with the Packers. Bolden was released from a local hospital Sunday and flew home with the Patriots.

Vrabel said the Titans wish Bolden well in his recovery and understands the Patriots’ decision to work by themselves this week. Vrabel said he would’ve loved to have his Titans practice against New England as previously scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Obviously understand that things come up, and we’re always able to adjust and adapt and we’ll practice and we’ll get work in and and we’ll see where we are here at the end of the week on Friday,” Vrabel said.

That’s when the Titans (1-1) conclude their preseason, hosting the Patriots in their lone exhibition at home. The Titans need to see who is healthy and available after a pair of wide receivers left Saturday night’s 24-16 win over Minnesota with injuries in Kyle Philips and Kearis Jackson.

Starting receiver Treylon Burks already hurt his left knee Wednesday during the first of two joint practices with the Vikings.

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel responds to questions during a post game news conference following their preseason NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Vrabel said the availability of Titans will impact who plays in the lone home exhibition for Tennessee, which opens the season Sept. 10 at New Orleans. The Titans coach also believes they’ll still have officials work their remaining practices, starting Tuesday.

“Just want to try to get everybody ready for the season, but also try to get them to the season,” Vrabel said. “Somebody’s got to play.”

Conditioning will be key, along with who’s healthy after the final practices of camp. Vrabel mentioned Pro Bowl linebacker Harold Landry III as someone who hasn’t played yet this preseason and might after missing last season with an ACL torn Aug. 31.

Vrabel also noted quarterback Ryan Tannehill, three-time All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and three-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry all have played a lot of football. But the more starters that sit means more snaps for those Titans who play.

“And the more snaps they get on special teams, we run out of IVs,” Vrabel said.

The Titans also held out rookie quarterback Will Levis after he left Thursday’s joint practice early despite the No. 33 pick overall warming up before kickoff. That led to wide receiver Mason Kinsey taking a couple of snaps late at quarterback in Minnesota.


Vrabel said he didn’t see the Titans needing to sign another quarterback to wrap up the preseason. Final roster cuts are due Aug. 29.

Malik Willis, the 86th selection overall in the 2022 draft, gained more yards with his legs (91 on 11 carries) compared to his arm (10 of 17 for 85 yards with a touchdown and an interception). He was a big contributor as the Titans piled up 281 yards on the ground with Henry watching from the sideline.

“If the protection breaks down and Malik’s got to take off, that’s a skillset,” Vrabel said.

The Titans coach also noted Willis’ room for improvement as a passer after being short on a pass to a wide-open Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

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