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VOL. 41 | NO. 34 | Friday, August 25, 2017

Play together, win together? Titans hope so

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Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota leads teammates in cheering the Nashville Predators during Game 3 of the Western Conference final in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs earlier this year. Earlier this week, the team took time from practice to watch the solar eclipse together at St. Thomas Sports Park.

-- Ap Photo/Mark Humphrey

By now you’ve filed away your memories of the 2017 eclipse and stored your viewing glasses in a safe place until 2566, Middle Tennessee’s next solar eclipse.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime event, so big that Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey adjusted the team’s practice schedule Monday to allow his players and coaches to view the historic event as a group.

But it doesn’t take something as colossal as a total eclipse to interrupt the Titans’ routine. Mularkey is big into team-building exercises, and they’re not something the Titans coach takes lightly.

Whether it’s viewing a solar eclipse, taking a day off from practice to go bowling or creating friendly little “competitions” that turn into position group and/or team rewards, Mularkey is going to take advantage of every opportunity to create locker room camaraderie.

“As much as I can. Any time I can do something that’s going to bring this team closer together, and it’s a close team already, it’s a very close team, I’m going to do it,” Mularkey says.

Some of that closeness was on display when the Titans offensive line and quarterback Marcus Mariota became regulars at Bridgestone Arena during the Nashville Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

It has been visible with the warm welcomes received by newcomers like receiver Eric Decker who said he spoke to players here that he knew before signing as a free agent.

They told him about the team-friendly environment and a positive culture – something that certainly didn’t exist here just a couple of years ago.

Mularkey even has a suggestion box that allows his other coaches to have input into what might be a team-bonding type event.

“I have a suggestion box from coaches,” he says. “If they see something we can do, especially something that’s fun but also pertains to what we’re doing football-wise, I think it’s important we do that.

“It can get stale in here if they come in here every day and do a schedule and ‘This is what we’re going to do.’ I think when they walk out of here they’re stimulated.

“They go to their meetings, their individual meetings, after we’ve done something competitive or something fun, for them that pertains to what we’re doing football-wise.

“They walk out of here, they go into those meetings, their attention span is much greater, and they carry it out to the practice field, and we get good practices because of it.”

Mularkey indicated players also are welcome to come to him with any suggestions that might help the team perform better.

So, while residents all around the Middle Tennessee and Southwestern Kentucky areas were getting a good glimpse of the eclipse on Monday, Mularkey was not only allowing his players to partake in the event, but also enjoying it as a group.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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