Taylor Thompson calls them his “toys,” but for the Tennessee Titans’ rookie tight end they are serious business.
When he packed for what ultimately will be an extended stay in a small space, he considered them necessities.
“I have a foam roller. I have a lacrosse ball for doing muscle work. I have a little cane I use,” the fifth-round draft pick out of SMU said. “It’s just a bunch of stuff to make sure my body’s in the best shape possible.
“It’s tough — number-one — to stay in the hotel and — two — practice once a day. So you have to make sure your body’s in the best shape possible.”
Thompson and the rest of the first year players have no choice but to stay in a hotel, one located near the team’s training facility and used annually to house players during training camp.
It became their temporary home when they reported for rookie orientation two weeks after the 2012 NFL Draft. They were scheduled to stay through the end of this month when the team finally concludes its official offseason program.
What they brought to help make themselves more comfortable and to pass the time, though, was completely up to them.
“Pretty much nothing,” safety Markelle Martin, a sixth-round selection, said when asked what he packed. “I’m going to enjoy the experience. With free time, I’m just going to take trips around the city, try to get a feel for it.
“This is a business time to focus on football, learn the system and get comfortable with the guys here.”
Some planned to make time for games — or so they thought.
“I brought my golf clubs, but I don’t know how much use I’m going to get out of them as far as [learning] the playbook and getting into all of that,” free agent quarterback Nick Stephens said. “I basically threw everything I own in two bags and just kind of made it work because I didn’t know what all I needed.
“I didn’t really know what the living situation was going to be so I just kind of over-packed a little bit.”
The hotel does provide easy access to the training facility and an appealing proximity to downtown entertainment.
Over seven weeks, though, it probably also can feel somewhat confining, particularly to some of the more sizable roster hopefuls. Not that — with the opportunity to make a living playing football — anyone is going to complain.
“The type of guy I am, I’m going to be focused no matter where I am,” cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, a fourth-round selection, said. “I’m here to do a job and that’s to make this team and help this team win a Super Bowl. That’s all I’m down here to do any way. It doesn’t matter.
“They could put me anywhere.”