Titans veterans happy to stay home for training camp

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans won't be traveling out of town for training camp, and right guard Benji Olson is among those who are very thankful not to have to pack up and leave home.

"I'm really going to enjoy sleeping in my own bed, which is important for me. Us older guys who've been around, we're used to being here, so we're excited to be back. I know I am," Olson said.

This time last year, the Titans were deciding whether to pack up a small TV, favorite pillow and video games to ease a two-week stay at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville. The time away provided exactly the team bonding and chemistry coach Jeff Fisher was looking to create.

But team officials announced in May that they wouldn't be returning to Clarksville, choosing instead to stay in Nashville where the franchise had held training camp since relocating to Tennessee in July 1997.

Linebacker David Thornton isn't sure what to expect Friday when the Titans open training camp. The five-year veteran knows nothing but heading off to a remote location for camp after going to Austin Peay last year in his first season with the Titans and four previous camps with Indianapolis.

"I think it works. Obviously, Coach Fisher feels like that's what we need to do to win games. Hopefully, it'll be something that helps build us as a team," Thornton said.

Where the team trains is being overshadowed by a couple of outstanding situations.

Fisher has yet to receive a contract extension after his option for 2007 was picked up. But both the coach and team officials keep saying that deal should be completed without any problems.

Also, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell must decide if suspended cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones can be allowed to take part in training camp with the Titans. He is expected to consult with the Titans before making a decision, but team officials don't need or want a distraction from a player suspended for the season and not eligible to have his case reviewed until Nov. 20.

Tennessee held its first two training camps in Nashville at Tennessee State University, a tenure marked by heavy complaints about the food and long hikes between the practice field and dormitory. The team held camp in 1999 at its temporary headquarters.

Between 2000 and 2005, the Titans simply stayed home for camp. The decision to stay in Nashville this year puts the Titans among 17 NFL teams camping out in the comforts of home sweet home.

Fisher traditionally has allowed veterans the choice of staying in a nearby hotel with rookies and younger players. Thornton has been used to staying in dorms to help build camaraderie with his teammates.

"I may stay in the hotel a few nights, go home a couple of nights if I need to. It's advantageous for veterans to go home whenever you choose to at the end of the day. It could be a good thing. I just have to play it out and see how it goes," Thornton said.

Olson highly recommends taking advantage of the chance to sleep in his own bed. He missed the Titans' overtime win at Houston on Dec. 10 because of back spasms that kept him from even making the trip. It was only the second game he missed since becoming a starter in 1999.

He also felt distracted last year, trying to remember what he needed to pack before heading off to camp and not forgetting anything when the Titans moved camp back to their Nashville headquarters.

"It'll be nice to be back here, and we need to have a good camp and need to have a good season so we can keep having it here for the next several years," Olson said.

With the Titans going 8-8 after an 0-5 start last season, it seemed Fisher would take his team back to Austin Peay. He took advantage of the school's location to take his team on a surprise early morning trip to Fort Campbell for a little taste of Army life.

Now Fisher has to devise something else to stimulate team bonding. But he likes the team he sees right now.

"We have a good nucleus here. A lot of these guys went through the experience last year, which was a great thing to go through. Not that the slow start was good, but the way that we finished. They've been motivated," he said.

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