NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As a player, Mike Vrabel had it all, including a mouth that wouldn’t stop. That hasn’t changed for Vrabel as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. In fact, joint practices with the Patriots allowed him to spring his wit on one of his all-time favorite targets, former teammate and still the quarterback of the Pats, Tom Brady.
"It was fun," Vrabel said, smiling post-practice Wednesday. "It brought back a lot of memories. Just to be able to sit out there and have him — they make a play and he (Brady) turns around and says, ‘Mikey you better cover that. You guys need to do this.’ I’m sure I had plenty to say too."
He certainly did, multiple times telling whoever was playing QB for the Pats — Brady, Brian Hoyer, rookie Jarrett Stidham — that they would have been sacked and, at least on a couple of occasions, barking playfully for them to "get off the field." Vrabel also reminded Pats tight end Benjamin Watson that he’s old (Watson is 38, Vrabel 44).
Not that Vrabel doesn’t have respect for what those veteran players have accomplished. In particular, Vrabel marvels at Brady’s performance and fire, something that has burned professionally for two decades.
"It’s something that’s very unusual in this league — the longevity and the success over a course of time," Vrabel said. "But Tom’s very committed to football and to winning and to being very competitive and taking care of his body, continuing to find new ways to train. He knows exactly when he needs to start training. Maybe he doesn’t start as early. It’s a different routine that maybe he had when he was 26. It’s fun for us. Good for us to be able to compete against him."
A measuring stick in mid-August. With a chance to needle a good friend. A win-win for Vrabel and the Titans. And if this practice was any indication, just as good and necessary a session for the defending Super Bowl champs and their 42-year old quarterback.
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