Titans' rookie Henry makes big impact
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The crack of rookie Derrick Henry's helmet smashing off Quinton Spain's head gear echoed across the Titans' practice field, leaving the left guard chuckling when asked about the collision with the Heisman Trophy winner.
Playing offense with the running back, Spain shouldn't be getting in Henry's way, and the collision left the left guard feeling bad for his teammates on defense since he certainly didn't slow down the 6-foot-3 rookie.
"When he hit me, I felt it and he kept running," Spain said in the locker room after Tuesday's practice.
The Tennessee Titans hit the field for the first of their three-day minicamp with the team opening the doors to invited season-ticket holders, grilling up hot dogs and handing out chips and drinks. At least 500 fans turned out on a morning where the temperature felt like 101 degrees before a thunderstorm ended the session a few minutes early.
Jeremy Rutherford, 30, of nearby Brentwood, Tennessee, wanted to check out the team's new additions at running back in both Henry and DeMarco Murray in person.
"It gives you a personal touch with the team," Rutherford said of the invite from a team that is 5-27 the past two seasons and working hard to woo ticket buyers.
For Mike Mularkey in his first offseason as Tennessee's head coach, giving some fans access Tuesday and Wednesday offers his Titans the chance to work in front of people before training camp opened. The trade-off is an adrenaline boost for players and the chance to show off what they've been working on.
"I wanted to give the crowd a good show," Mularkey said.
The Titans still are busy trying to improve their offensive line to both better protect quarterback Marcus Mariota and open holes for Murray and Henry. This competition is expected to go into August, but Spain, an undrafted rookie out of West Virginia, is still working with the first-team at left guard where he started the final seven games last season.