At Division II Winston-Salem State, William Hayes had the nickname “Big Play” Hayes.
In Friday’s organized team activities, Hayes actually made a little too big of a play on the practice field.
Hayes was rushing in team drills with starting quarterback Vince Young in the pocket searching for a receiver to throw to. That’s when Hayes reached his big right arm toward Young and stripped him of the football.
A good play to be sure, except that Young was wearing the red practice jersey indicating he is off-limits to any contact in practice.
“I didn’t mean to strip Vince Young. I initially tried to hit the ball, but I forgot that you don’t touch Vince or any quarterback,” Hayes said. “That’s a quick way to get sent home.”
Defensive line coach Jim Washburn applauded Hayes’ effort, but had to remind him not to touch the quarterback.
“Coach Wash came over there, and was like, ‘Good job, baby. But don’t touch Vince no more.’ It was pretty funny,” Hayes said.
Hayes, whom the Titans traded into the top of the fourth round to pick, is a raw prospect to be sure, but the Titans are hopeful he can be a solid part of the defensive line rotation even as a rookie.
Hayes’ adventures didn’t end with the strip on Friday. A few plays later, he was in a brief skirmish with starting right tackle David Stewart, then sat out the end of practice after his slightly hyperextended knee tightened up late in the workout.
“Everything is just coming real fast for me now, but I’m just trying to learn every day and get a little bit better every single day,” Hayes said.
EXCUSED: A number of Titans player were excused from Friday’s work, including cornerback Nick Harper, safety Donnie Nickey, long snapper Ken Amato, linebacker Josh Stamer, receiver Brandon Jones and center Kevin Mawae were all excused from practice.
Safety Michael Griffin was excused from practice early and did not partake in team drills.
SIDELINED: Several Titans were also out of the workout because of lingering injuries.
Guard Leroy Harris, who twisted his knee Wednesday, was held out, though Fisher said he could have gone.
“He could have practiced today, but we’re going to rest him. There’s no sense in pushing him,” Fisher said.
Tackle Daniel Loper was “coming along,” according to Fisher. Loper, battling a leg injury, was in a walking boot Wednesday, but out of it as he watched Friday’s practice.
Others who were out included guard Fernando Velasco (calf) and safety Rocky Schwartz (calf). Schwartz’s injury appears more serious, as he could be out until training camp begins.
Receiver Roydell Williams remains out with an ankle injury.
OUCH: Backup quarterback Kerry Collins appeared to hit his hand on a helmet during team drills and gave way to Ingle Martin in the second-team two-minute drill.
GAINING: Seventh-round pick Cary Williams has added about 10 pounds, according to Fisher, who remarked of the 6-1, 185-pounder, “He’s a tall corner, and he was obviously malnourished when he got here.”