Titans decide to play it safe with rookie safety during orientation

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 9:05pm

The one place Markelle Martin wanted to be — in the middle of the action — was the one place he was not allowed.

So while many of the other Tennessee Titans rookies took part in seven-on-seven passing drills Friday afternoon, he tried a variety of other spots.

“I got behind the offense to look at the formations and get a feel for that part of the game,” he said. “I kind of went out by the corners and saw what those guys were looking at. Finally, I went back with the safeties and got more a visual for what I need to do and what I need to be looking at.

“To me, that’s part of the game I bring — just having a different vantage point of the game.”

Eventually, it was impossible for the offense not to notice him. When he finally watched several plays from the back of the secondary, an assistant coach asked him to move. “They think that you’re in the game,” he was told.

There’s a chance that, come September, his presence in the secondary won’t be a figment of quarterbacks’ imagination. Of the seven players the Titans drafted in April, none has fewer veterans ahead of him than Oklahoma State safety, who was the Titans’ sixth-round pick (190th overall).

“It’s frustrating because I want to get out there, show guys what I can do and also learn the system and the scheme,” he said. “But I also understand that I have a little injury, and they want to monitor it and not put too much stress on it.”

In January, Martin sustained a knee injury that required surgery and likely affected his draft position. He only worked out for scouts in mid-April, roughly two weeks before the selection process.

Before he watched some of the afternoon work, he participated in the first of Friday’s two workouts and a weightlifting session on the first full day of the Titans’ rookie orientation, which brought together all seven draft picks and 16 of 17 undrafted rookies. Only Missouri long snapper/tight end Beau Brinkley was absent. He took part in his school’s graduation ceremonies.

Beginning this week, rookies and veterans can work together under the direction of their position coaches.

“After you draft them it’s one thing,” coach Mike Munchak said. “Actually getting them here for meetings and to kind of start your orientation and getting them used to the way we do things here … was good.

“[Martin] is doing well. … We just thought since we were out here twice that we would be careful as he continues with the process. We think he’ll be fine for OTAs. He’ll be able to compete and do a lot of things over the next six weeks.”

The only experienced safeties on the roster are Jordan Babineaux, Michael Griffin and Robert Johnson, although Johnson’s is limited at best. A fifth-round pick in 2010, he has appeared in just three games.

For his part, Martin is well seasoned coming out of college. He was a three-year starter who capped his career with first-team All-Big 12 recognition.

He also knows how to deal with offseason health issues. He had shoulder surgery prior to his senior year and missed time in advance of the 2009 season with a shoulder injury. He never missed a game, however.

“Closer to the day of the draft it was something you kind of hang your head on and think, ‘That’s the last thing they remember about me — me being hurt,’” he said. “Hopefully the film speaks for itself.

Coaches have a great feel for what they’re looking for and what you can do.”

They also know where they want him to be — or not to be — when he’s not involved.