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Learning curve

Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey made his first appearance at OTAs on Thursday. (Associated Press)
Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey made his first appearance at OTAs on Thursday. (Associated Press)

After wrapping up classes, Sankey adapting to NFL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bishop Sankey’s time in NFL rookie exile finally is over.

The running back stayed away from the Tennessee Titans this offseason until he finished the academic quarter at Washington except for a rookie minicamp. That meant he missed all but one of the Titans’ organized team activities, finally rejoining the team Thursday. The Titans conclude the offseason program with a three-day minicamp next week.

Sankey, a former Gonzaga Prep standout, said it was a little strange being a pro player and a student, with NFL rules requiring him to stay away from the team until finishing out the quarter. He was allowed only to take part in a rookie minicamp after the draft.

“It’s one of the rules you’ve got to stay there and knock out your classes until your school gets out for that year,” Sankey said. “But it’s just a blessing at the same time to be able to knock those classes out and still be a part of the NFL chasing your dreams.”

He took his final exam Tuesday before flying to Tennessee on Wednesday, and the Titans had him on the field Thursday with Shonn Greene recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

“It’s pretty apparent watching him in practice he’s a good runner, he’s got a good feel,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

“You can see that with the way he moves. He’s in good shape. It’s just the mental part of it. I guess the best way to say it is mentally he’s in good shape, but when you get on the field and things start moving quickly the normal thing to do is have a little bit of hesitation, and you see that.”

To help him keep up with the more than 600 plays the Titans installed during the organized team sessions, he had an iPad with the playbook and was able to monitor film. He also said he talked almost every other day with running backs coach Sylvester Croom to learn as much as possible.

Whisenhunt isn’t worried about Sankey catching up by training camp. The coaches will have players for 10 hours daily Tuesday through Thursday next week in the mandatory minicamp, up from the six hours allowed per day during the organized team workouts.

Receiver Nate Washington is just one of the veterans interested in seeing what Sankey brings to the offense. Washington was so curious he watched film of the rookie minicamp to check out Sankey.

“He’s a lot faster than I thought he was,” Washington said. “It surprised me, so I’m excited about that opportunity to get that speed on the field and do some stretching with his ability to catch.”