As a blocking tight end for the Tennessee Titans, Craig Stevens’ work often goes unnoticed except maybe on a coaches tape.
But in Wednesday afternoon’s practice, Stevens was noticed plenty, getting into four different scraps on the practice field against three different players.
At first, it was defensive end Dave Ball and Stevens who got into a shoving match and would not let go of each other during team drills.
Shortly thereafter, linebacker Stanford Keglar scuffled with Stevens, a second-year tight end from California at the end of a pitch play around the end.
And finally, there was Stevens mixing it up with defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch on consecutive plays late in practice, with Vanden Bosch punching Stevens toward the end of the fracas. At that point, Titans coach Jeff Fisher intervened and told the players to cut out the extracurricular activities.
“Today was a real physical practice. We did a lot of run blocking and stuff like that. That’s just the game,” Stevens said. “You’ve got to go out there and everyone on both sides of the ball has got to play tough. I think they’re picking on me. The defense is a tight little family. I was just trying to play tough.”
Fisher seemed OK after practice with the work Stevens had done during the running portion of team drills.
“He was blocking pretty well and the ends were getting frustrated. He’s having a good camp,” Fisher said.
Linebacker Keith Bulluck said training camp scraps are bound to happen sometimes.
“Football is a physical sport, so there’s gonna be some confrontations. If you don’t have any confrontations on your team, then you might have something to worry about,” Bulluck said.
Asked how one guy could have been involved in so many fights, Bulluck said, “He was either holding or somebody had it out for him. He’s out there competing and trying to get a spot, and he’s not going to let anyone push him around. That’s how this team is, no one is going to push this team around, even when we’re going against ourselves.”
At least one Titan who had most of practice off, wished he was out there in the fray with Stevens.
“I wanted to be out there. He got my dauber up. He definitely got my dauber up,” said cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who worked only in individual drills Wednesday because of minor leg soreness.
Finnegan wasn’t the only Titan to sit out Wednesday’s work. Vincent Fuller made an early exit after experiencing tightness in his groin during the individual part of practice.
“I just felt it tighten up on me. I’ll ice it and we’ll see what happens,” Fuller said. “It depends on how I feel. Whenever you have an injury, you want to see how it does the next morning, how it feels, how much swelling, if there is any.”
Kevin Vickerson missed the afternoon practice because of the flu, while a number of other players continued to miss time, including defensive end Jacob Ford (hamstring), receiver Mark Jones (hamstring), safety Nick Schommer (hamstring), linebacker Stephen Tulloch (knee), linebacker Colin Allred (ankle), defensive tackle Jason Jones (foot), tight end Casey Cramer (shoulder), receiver Chris Davis (hamstring) and linebacker Josh Stamer (groin).
No players have yet been ruled out for Saturday’s game with Tampa Bay.
The Titans don’t have much idea of what to expect from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the visitors first preseason game, especially on offense with a new staff and new head coach in Raheem Morris.
“We have no idea, other than what you read, of who’s going to play and as far as what they’re doing, we’re not familiar with their system,” Fisher said.
The Titans have some idea of defensive coordinator Jim Bates’ tendencies from his many years in the NFL, most recently in Denver. But the offensive system, under the guidance of former Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who is the new offensive coordinator.