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VOL. 38 | NO. 30 | Friday, July 25, 2014

Whisenhunt tightens the reins on Titans training camp

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With the Bud Adams/Jeff Fisher/Mike Munchak era officially over, Titans fans might be more anxious than ever to get a look at their team.

So what can they expect to see when training camp opens Saturday?

Less. Much less, as a matter of fact.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt’s team will open just eight practice sessions for public viewing this summer. Nine if you want to make a three and a-half hour trip to Suwanee, Ga., to watch the team’s joint sessions with the Falcons on Aug. 4.

The fact that the Titans have only eight viewing sessions for a fan base more hungry than ever for a winning product might not sit well with some ardent supporters.

After all, there are some diehards who plan their time off and a good portion of their free time around watching practice and the chance to secure the autograph of some undrafted rookie who has only the remotest chance of sniffing the practice squad.

Some of the changes are due to logistics. The NFL’s new labor agreement effectively ended the age-old practice of two-a-day workouts a few years ago, so that reduced availability.

But the other part is more interesting and, to a certain degree, more perplexing. Basically, the Titans’ new regime wants to keep its offensive and defensive schemes under wraps, as much as possible, until they’re ready to use them on game days.

Fair enough, to an extent.

But that’s where the fans and the media are seeing the winds of change.

The basic media policy, a gentlemen’s agreement in place since the team arrived, is that the media are allowed to view practice but understands there are certain things that are are off limits to report.

In other words, if the team practices a double-reverse, tight end throwback pass to the quarterback, it had better not show up online, on camera or in print.

Rarely, if ever, has that been violated since the franchise moved here in 1997.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt will excercise greater control over what information is made public during his first preseason with the club. Fans will have only eight opportunities to watch the team practice, nine if they would like to travel to Georgia to watch a joint workout with the Falcons.

-- Ap Photo/Mark Zaleski

Last year, a tweeted photo from a media member irked then-coach Mike Munchak and his staff, who believed the media was giving away company secrets.

Never mind that the play was run right in front of fans at an open training camp session. In other words, probably a hundred fans saw the same thing and tweeted about it.

The other, and quite frankly, trickier part of the equation is how to deal with injuries and depth chart changes as a reporter vs. what the team wants the public and opponents to know.

For instance, if Player X limps off the field with what looks like a knee injury, the policy in the past has been to ask the head coach and let him give whatever details he feels obligated to divulge.

At the end of the Jeff Fisher Era, injuries were often simply covered up.

Under Munchak, the coach usually addressed the issue but was sometimes vague in describing its severity.

Thus far, Whisenhunt’s modus operandi has been to talk as little as possible about injuries.

That’s OK, until Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen or some other national hotshot under no obligation to the team or policies tweets out details of Player X’s knee injury and says he will miss six weeks.

Think it can’t happen? It did in 2006 when Fisher threatened to close practice for the season if any local media member leaked the fact that Vince Young would be making his first start against the Dallas Cowboys.

Jay Glazer, under no such threats, didn’t hesitate to break the story on the Saturday before the game.

Of course, such a story would never have lasted four days in today’s world of Twitter and Instagram.

Speaking of online, if you check the Titans’ own website and want to take a look at the team’s depth chart, you’re wasting your time, it’s blank. The guessing game continues.

Of course, if the Titans come out and show marked improvement this year, the fact that there is less fan access and less information available about the team will quickly be forgotten.

But for a team that is now five years removed from being a contender, a little more access couldn’t hurt.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com and is a blogger for National Football Post.

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