Mike Munchak sent a strong message Monday to anyone who thought the Tennessee Titans had too much ground to cover in training camp. He ended camp a day early.
The first-year coach surprised players when he announced that players would be off Tuesday, which originally was scheduled to be the final day of training camp.
“We didn’t expect it at all,” left tackle Michael Roos said. “In fact, I think we’re all kind of waiting for the catch a little bit. … It’s definitely good. We’ve had two games where everyone has been playing hard in all three phases. So it’s good to get some rest.”
Coaches will report and make plans for Saturday’s preseason game against the Chicago Bears (7 p.m., LP Field), which figures to be the one starters play longer than any other. Players will return Wednesday and simulate a typical regular season preparation week.
“We will get three good work days in so it will be good to take a break here after going through the training camp and the first two preseason games, let them get their feet under them and come back Wednesday ready to go, Munchak said.
The Titans opened camp on July 29 when players reported and held their first workouts the next day. Because of one-time rules instituted in the wake of the lockout imposed by NFL owners, which halted all offseason business from mid-March until late July, the full complement of players, including starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, did not practice together for the first time until Aug. 4.
A prevailing theory among many NFL observers was that the Titans — with new coaches and a new quarterback — were at a disadvantage because of the abbreviated offseason.
“I think in a lot of ways we are ahead.,” Munchak said late last week, when asked about the team’s progress. “…Of course we would have loved to have more time with these guys in the off-season, especially the young guys, so we could have gotten to know them a bit better than we do right now.”
The decision to end camp a day earlier did create some changes Monday.
The rookie relay, a tradition during Jeff Fisher’s tenure, was contested with two teams — one of offensive players and one of defensive players. Also, several players, including Hasselbeck, were held out of the practice.
“They didn’t know they were going to have [Tuesday] off but we did so we thought that gives a lot of guys two full days to rest and be ready to go on Wednesday,” Munchak said. “So that was the reason for him and some of the other guys.”