Camp observations: Seen and heard during the first two days of Titans training camp

Maybe it is rust, given that he missed the final seven games of last season. Perhaps he’s a little too juiced to back preparing for a season. It could be (the Tennessee Titans certainly hope this isn’t the case) a lingering effect of the surgery on his right (plant) foot.

Whatever the reason, quarterback Jake Locker has thrown more than a few passes high. High enough, in fact, that they have been over the heads of his receivers.
During individual drills on Sunday, in fact, he airmailed a stationary target and nearly hit a couple wide receivers, who were going through their own drills nearby, and a member of the media relations staff on the sideline. The errant delivery prompted some good-natured criticism from Nate Washington, to which Locker responded with a thumbs-up and an additional turn to ensure that he did better.

“I’ve been happy with Jake,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “From where he was when we started in mini-camps and OTAs and where he’s progressed, there’s a lot that I like in what I’m seeing. Hopefully, that trend will continue.”

No one will be perfect at this point of camp and with a new offense being installed, there’s no doubt that some of Locker’s misses are a rest of receivers being in the wrong place.

Still, accuracy has been one of the question marks about Locker since he entered the NFL. The sooner he shows he can dial it in, therefore, the better for everyone.

Return to returning?: Marc Mariani made the team as a rookie in 2010 as a return specialist. Having spent the last two years on injured reserve, he clearly has lost his place in line.

The Titans worked on kickoff coverage for a short time Sunday and the order of the four return men who worked against that unit was notable. It was, in order: Leon Washington, Dexter McCluster, rookie Bishop Sankey and Mariani.

The leading line of thought has been that if Mariani is to make the team this year, it must be as a wide receiver (he has five career receptions). Based on the most recent practice, there is no reason to think otherwise.

• Banging away: Monday will be the first day players can be in pads. So the Titans will be in pads.

“I think we’ll find out a little bit about some guys, but the games are  different speed,” Whisenhunt said. “A week and a half from now, when everybody’s sore and banged up and guys are missing reps and somebody has to shoulder all that, it’s a process. Make no mistake about it, pads are an important part of that.”

• Quote of note: “I was going through that and trying to do it, and I kept coming up with this depth chart that had a bunch of slashes and a bunch of different names on the first line, and I said that it’s just not worth doing that and we’ll let it settle out. I told the players, I said, ‘Don’t pay attention to the depth chart. You’re going to control that. Everybody has an opportunity here, and we’re going to play our best guys.’ ” — Whisenhunt on why the team did not release a depth chart.

• Soft and fluffy: One change fans won’t notice is that players have new, white towels in the locker room. For years, the locker room towels have been a deep blue.

Not only is the color different but — based on the estimates of a couple players — it had been some time since they had new towels. So that is a change that has been welcomed.

Briefly: The tempo of workouts under Whisenhunt exceeds anything that took place under the previous staff. Plus, coaches find ways to keep more players involved and moving at all times. … Don’t assume that Justin Hunter will be opposite Kendall Wright in two-wide receiver sets. Nate Washington is not ready to give up that spot. … Safety Michael Griffin gets the Garth Brooks award for staying the longest and signing the most autographs Sunday.