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Minicamp report: Williamson seeks to improve in 2nd Titans season

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NASHVILLE — Avery Williamson became a starter at inside linebacker for the Tennessee Titans almost by default last year as a rookie. He held up well with 79 tackles in 12 starts and even handled the bulk of the defensive calls as the season wore on.

But Williamson wasn’t satisfied with last season, and this year has not only been working to learn more, but also has added about 10 pounds, and plans to play at around 250 pounds this year after being in the 238 to 240 range as a rookie.

“I’ve put on like 10 pounds and I want to come into camp at least 250. I came in (in the offseason) at 250,” Williamson said.

Williamson went back to college in the offseason and worked with the staff at the University of Kentucky to oversee his weight gain, but said the Titans were OK with his decision to add a little bulk.

“My coach said it was fine, but I feel like for me I needed to be a little heavier, because I was getting pushed around a little bit. I feel like if you can put a little more muscle on, you can withstand a lot more of the beating,” Williamson said.

Williamson said there were plays he missed as a rookie that he knows he will be able to make now that he has a full year in the system under his belt.

“Individually, I just want to make more plays. There were a lot of them that I left out there, and that was due to the fact that I didn’t know what I was doing at times. So I just want to go out there and make some more plays. I’m ready for some accolades. I want to make the Pro Bowl,” Williamson said.

–With the offseason work soon drawing to a close, quarterback Marcus Mariota is learning many things. One of them will be the fine line between how much work to put in in the six weeks before training camp and how much time to take off.

“The competitor in me wants to keep rolling, but you’ve got to find that balance of being able to recuperate and rejuvenate and get ready for the long haul and keep your mind focused on football,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot. My transition has gone pretty well. I’m doing best to learn as much as I can in the offense, and that process has gone pretty well for me so far. Again, it’s a long process, and it’s a long road ahead of us, but I think there’s a solid foundation.”

Mariota will spend a little time in Hawaii with family and friends, and then plans to return to Oregon to train before coming back to Nashville.

Mariota also will likely make some time to throw with his receivers during the off period.

“I think that’s part of it, to continue to build the chemistry that’s gonna make you successful. Again, it’s finding that balance,” Mariota said. “Guys are gonna want to take care of their bodies and rejuvenate for a little bit. But we’ll find something or somewhere to be able to practice.”

The receivers have said they wouldn’t mind if the throwing sessions took place in Hawaii. Mariota sort of smiled at that suggestion, saying, “I’m not opposed to it, that’d be a great time for sure.”

–Undrafted rookies often flash during minicamps before the pads go on. Then, it is up to them to carry that over into training camp and preseason if they want to seriously contend for a roster spot.

One such player that has shown up is cornerback Cody Riggs, who comes as undrafted from Notre Dame and Florida. He is the son of former NFL running back Gerald Riggs.

Asked if his famous father had given him any advice, Riggs replied, “He told me it’s a job now. He told me you’ve got to understand that this is what you do. He told me to make sure you take advantage and study as much film as you can.”

Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt has noticed and now is looking for Riggs to take the next step.

“He’s done a nice job. I think the big thing for him when we get to training camp when we get the pads on is how he responds,” Whisenhunt said. “Probably in training camp when we do some of those one-on-one drills, you can get a good assessment of how he can hold up. It’s gonna be important for him on special teams. I said, ‘You’ve shown up some at corner.’ There’s gonna be trials and tribulations at that position, but a way you can really solidify your chances to make the team is what you can do special-teams wise.”


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