The Tennessee Titans should enter training camp distraction free and focused on football.
Taylor Lewan has checked in. Kevin Dodd has checked out – or been checked out as it may be.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson, head coach Mike Vrabel and several players made available talked about both situations as the Titans gathered with the first practice of training camp coming Thursday morning.
In getting both situations resolved or on the way to being resolved in Lewan’s case, it should quickly shift the focus of camp onto football, rather than contracts and potential no-shows.
On the Lewan situation at the start of camp, Robinson said contract talks are progressing toward an extension and picked up over the previous 24 hours or so.
“I’d say they’ve been going on for the last day or two. Kind of really ramped up a little bit more last night, and it’s good,” Robinson said of contract talks with Lewan’s agent, Tom Condon of CAA.
On the Dodd front, Robinson said that he met face-to-face with Dodd on Tuesday and decided it was time to go in a different direction. The Titans general manager took full responsibility for Dodd, a second-round pick, not working out.
“I’ll say this about Kevin (Dodd), Kevin is a good young man. He’s a talented young man, and I take full responsibility for that one. I’ve got to do a better job scouting moving forward,” Robinson said.
Asked whether or not Dodd had lost his desire to play football, or just wanted out of his situation in Tennessee, Robinson gave a rather diplomatic answer.
“With every player there’s different circumstances that come up in their life that affect what they do on a day-to-day basis. I’d like to keep those conversations private between Kevin and I,” Robinson said. “I’ve got a really, really good relationship with Kevin. I respect him, I know it didn’t go as we had planned here, but I really respect the young man that he is. He and I – I hope to remain friends with him moving forward, and I think we will.”
Players seemed to appreciate the Titans have dealt with both situations quickly and decisively.
“I appreciate Taylor Lewan reporting, because of the end of the day, we need him,” All-Pro safety Kevin Byard said. “With the Dodd situation, it was just one of those things that didn’t work out. He was one of my classmates. We came in together, and I wish he was here. … But it’s a business.”
Linebacker Brian Orakpo said he would reach out to Dodd in the coming days, because he “is still family,” but understood that it is a bottom line business in the NFL.
“I wish Dodd the best. I’m going to call him later on in a couple of days just to make sure he’s straight regardless,” Orakpo said. “He’s part of the family, whether you’re playing or not. I wish him the best, and hopefully he can turn his career around. But we have to move forward.”
Vrabel acknowledged that distractions are a part of the game, and that the Titans are doing what they can to minimize them.
“We're going to have to deal with all types of distractions. I think that whether they're player related, family related, whatever it may be, there's always going to be something, you know,” Vrabel said. “So, I don't want to like lose sight of the fact because we're always going to have to deal with some sort of distractions.
“Our players, our coaches, everybody in this building is going to have to deal with something, and we have to understand that we are professional enough to do our job that when we come in here, hopefully we have been able as an organization to make everything outside of this building as easy as possible for our players.”