It took longer for Derrick Morgan and Damian Williams than any of the other Tennessee Titans’ rookies to get their green. Yet both were black and blue – so to speak – when they finally completed their business and joined the team.
Two workouts into training camp, therefore, the contributions of the Titans’ top two draft picks have been minimal – at best – and health issues created uncertainty about what they might add at the start of the season.
Morgan, the first-round pick (16th overall), was pulled from the action shortly after the start of Sunday’s workout when he aggravated a calf injury he first sustained during organized team activities (OTAs) in the offseason. That, after he was unavailable for Saturday’s opening practice while negotiations continued on his contract.
He still did more over the weekend in terms of team drills than Williams, the first of Tennessee’s two third-round picks. Williams opened camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and thus has been limited to individual work under the watch of trainers.
“(Morgan) has had ongoing calf issues,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “We just backed him down. He’s not 100 percent. He felt it a little it so we just backed him down.
“He will eventually get back on the field at full speed and 100 percent. When that is, I don’t know. But we’re backing him down just so we don’t risk further injury.”
The defensive end out of Georgia Tech was at the team’s training facility Saturday as talks on his contract progressed through the final stages. He said it was shortly before midnight that he finally signed a five-year deal.
At the time, only 10 first-round picks remained unsigned around the league.
Then in seemingly no time, he was unavailable again.
“I kind of had a little setback (Sunday), but I’m just trying to stay positive, move forward” Morgan said. “ … It was same injury I had in OTAs. I had been rehabbing it a lot over the break. I kind of felt it get tight again.”
Morgan also was slowed in the wake of the draft by a hamstring injury he sustained in May. He said the calf (his left) was not as painful as when he initially hurt it.
Williams sustained a hamstring injury of his own in the final OTA on June 24. The feeling at that time was that it might limit him at the start of training camp, and it did.
The wide receiver/returner from USC was the second-to-last third-rounder to come to terms on a contract, which finally happened Friday night. When he reported for the start of camp Saturday he learned that he was not cleared to participate because of his health.
“I’ve been here the whole month – it wasn’t like I didn’t see these people, I came in every day,” Williams said. “I’m glad they finally got (the contract) done.
“… I’m definitely close. I’ve been working every day, and it’s one of those injuries that you just don’t want to rush back into it.”
Coincidentally, this is the second straight year the Titans used their top two choices on a wide receiver and a defensive lineman, albeit in the opposite order.
The 2009 top choice, wide receiver Kenny Britt, was one of two Titans’ rookies who played in all 16 contests and he was fifth among all NFL rookies with 701 receiving yards.
Morgan, if healthy, figures to be an immediate contributor just as Britt was.
In terms of his primary position, there is less expectation for Williams to produce given the current depth as was the case with last year’s second-round selection Sen’Derrick Marks, who was inactive for the first three games and seven overall. However, Williams is considered a primary option to inject life into the return game, which was among the NFL’s least productive a year ago.
“I was really excited to get out here,” Morgan said. “This is just a little bump in the way. I’m staying positive and I’m going to be all right.”