JOE BIDDLE: Titans heating up

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Titans training camp started Saturday.

Fortunately the players got a break in the suffering hot climate we have had for what seems like forever.

I am no meteorologist but I am not going out on a limb predicting that there will be pleasant weather for the end of July and all of August. Not going to happen. It hasn’t happened in years, but instead of coaches giving football players salt pills for hydration, they have a number of trained athletic trainers keeping eyes on everyone on the field, from start to finish.

The Titans have held training camp in a variety of places in the past.

When they moved from Houston to Nashville, training camp was at Baptist Sports Park in Bellevue. It had a makeshift football field that only a groundhog could love. Coaches had a trailer for an office. Sparse doesn’t start to portray how not-NFL standard it was.

Before they had a stadium, they held training camp one summer at Tennessee State University. They practiced in TSU’s stadium, aptly named The Hole. That summer, Coach Jeff Fisher and Co. didn’t grin and bare it. They bared it.

They fought blazing heat that summer. The Hole held heat in like no other NFL training camp location. I couldn’t wait to see the Titans’ linemen lumbering up the hill to reach the ice tubs located outside Gentry Center. Talk about competition. The Big Uglies were a site to behold.

They ate meals in the TSU cafeteria and the complaints of the food became so loud and frequent, Fisher allowed them to go off campus to eat.

They stayed in the TSU dormitories while the students were on summer break. Needless to say, the beds and mattresses didn’t work out.

In the 2006 season Fisher and the Titans trained at Austin Peay, again staying in college dorms and eating college cafeteria food. Players were seen riding bicycles around campus. They had no cars.

Flash forward to today and it is 180 degrees different than the early years.

Rookies stay at the Maxwell House Hotel, close to Saint Thomas Sports Park. They eat meals at the facility’s training table.

Today’s NFL rules are designed to protect the players from the heat and injuries. They no longer have two-a-day practices with contact. They are limited in contact drills and length of times to practice. They have night practices when the heat is at its feel-like temperatures during the day.

This is the one of the most important training camps since the move to Nashville.

Expectations run high. There are new faces on the roster. Players injured last season should be ready for training camp.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota will have eyes on him and protected rules to prevent re-injuring his broken leg. He is the key to how this season plays out.

GM Jon Robinson has drafted well, signed free agents to fill needed gaps. They came to terms Saturday with their first round draft choice, wide receiver Corey Davis. He is being counted on to be a starter as a rookie.

Coach Mike Mularkey said after the practice he has warned the players to not get over confident, to not listen to the (media and fans) noises out there, the ones that predict the Titans to win the AFC South and go deep in the playoffs.

This roster is not about shortage of talent. It is there. It is all about injuries and how the ball bounces in regular season.

The team seems ready for business, primed to improve on a nine-wins or better season record.

First, they have to beat the heat and put training camp behind them.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at