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Titans coach: Team shows improvement as minicamp ends, now needs changes to translate to field

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Coach Ken Whisenhunt believes a Tennessee's revamped and younger roster makes the Titans an improved football team.

Tight end Delanie Walker says the Titans certainly are better than a year ago when they went 2-14, noting Thursday that they should be at least a .500 team this season.

Now Whisenhunt will wait until training camp to see how much the Titans have improved when they put on pads.

"I feel good about this squad," Whisenhunt said.

"We've got a lot of young guys, which is sometimes a little bit worrisome just because they don't know what they don't know and going through the process of learning that sometimes there's some bumps. But we have got some talented guys from where we started before free agency to where we are now we've improved this team. Now we've got to show that on the field."

The Titans wrapped up their three-day minicamp Thursday and finished up their offseason program. They report for training camp July 30 with the preseason opener Aug. 14 at Atlanta.

Walker talked to his teammates after they stretched out for their final session, reminding them of the need to focus and not think of looming vacations. Going into his 10th NFL season, Walker has seen that happen before. The veteran said he liked the effort to wrap up the offseason and thinks the Titans have the makings of what can be a great team.

"The makeup has changed, and I think guys realize that the ownership and the coaches are not playing anymore at this time," Walker said. "They're going to play the best players and the player that gives his all."

The Titans certainly made a bunch of moves this offseason to change the roster to better fit what Whisenhunt wants.

PHOTO: Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rico Richardson (81) runs through a drill during NFL football minicamp on Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn.  The Titans wrap up their three-day mandatory minicamp Thursday with coach Ken Whisenhunt reminding his young team of the need to be ready July 30 for a team trying to bounce back from a 2-14 season. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rico Richardson (81) runs through a drill during NFL football minicamp on Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans wrap up their three-day mandatory minicamp Thursday with coach Ken Whisenhunt reminding his young team of the need to be ready July 30 for a team trying to bounce back from a 2-14 season. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Quarterback Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 pick overall out of Oregon, is the biggest difference from a year ago, while outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and Hall of Fame defensive coach Dick LeBeau are just the key pieces added to a defense that could feature five new starters this season.

Whisenhunt said he was impressed with Mariota and backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger's improvement this offseason. He also said the wide receivers did a nice job with rookie Dorial Green-Beckham and veterans Harry Douglas and Hakeem Nicks the additions to that group. Free agent cornerback Perrish Cox made a lot of plays this offseason, while safety Da'Norris Searcy has fit in quickly.

All eyes are on Mariota, though, with the Titans promoting season-ticket sales with the phrase "WITNESS THE BEGINNING." Whisenhunt said Mariota is probably further along now than expected.

"There's good reason to be really excited about him," Whisenhunt said.

Some unfinished business still remains before the Titans report July 30 for training camp. Mariota is one of the few first-round draft picks still unsigned with offensive tackle Jeremiah Poutasi, a third-round pick out of Utah, Tennessee's other draft pick still waiting for a contract.

Whisenhunt also expects all the Titans to be healthy by then as well. The Titans chose caution this offseason keeping Orakpo out of team drills as he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle injured in a Washington win against Tennessee last season. Centers Brian Schwenke and rookie Andy Gallik are expected to be healed from hamstring injuries along with defensive tackle Sammie Hill (injured knee).

Orakpo said he is looking forward to training camp.

"I've been doing the individual drills and the walk-throughs and the pass rush stuff," Orakpo said. "I kind of look forward to doing the team stuff and getting back to football being myself and getting all the kinks and the rust out and getting back to doing my thing."


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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) talks with quarterbacks coach John McNulty, left, during NFL football minicamp on Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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