Created:Tuesday, April 22, 2014 7:57 p.m.CST
Updated:Tuesday, April 22, 2014 8:04 p.m.CST
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NIU grad ready for time with Tennessee Titans

By STEVE NITZ – snitz@shawmedia.com
Jason Schepler talks with an attendee during the annual "X's and O's with the Pros Men's Football Clinic" on Friday at the Yordon Center at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Schepler, a Sycamore and a Northern Illinois graduate, is training with the NFL's Tennessee Titans. (Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)

DeKALB – The Tennessee Titans recently got a head start on most of the NFL.

With the franchise hiring a new head coach in former San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt – who was the Cardinals’ head coach from 2007 to 2012, the Titans were allowed to get two weeks of extra conditioning in earlier this month.

The collective bargaining agreement negotiated in 2011 allows teams who change head coaches to start conditioning two weeks earlier than normal.

For Sycamore and Northern Illinois graduate Jason Schepler, it’s a great opportunity. Schepler signed with the Titans in late December, and is on the same page as the rest of the team as far as learning Whisenhunt’s complicated offensive system.

“I think it’s definitely an advantage for guys like me, where everyone’s starting on a blank slate,” said Schepler, who attended NIU’s second annual X’s and O’s with the Pros this past Friday. “Everybody’s learning the plays at the same time. It’s cool, everybody can study off each other.”

Schepler arrived backThursday from the early conditioning in Nashville. He’s going to head back down to Tennessee this Thursday, when the Titans will continue their offseason program with Organized Team Activities and minicamps.

Schepler said Tennessee’s offense is complicated in that the tight ends have to understand the whole offense, not just the tight end position. Schepler said each offensive player has to know what everyone else is doing.

“We’re expected to block like O-linemen and we’re expected to run routes like wide receivers,” Schepler said. “We’re expected to know their receiver techniques and O-linemen techniques. We have to know everything.”

Schepler spent this past summer in San Francisco 49ers training camp as both a fullback and tight end but was part of the last round of cuts. He originally earned a minicamp tryout with San Francisco, signed a deal and was cut before being brought back.

Schepler has a year of training camp under his belt and is going to use that experience as a guide.

“This time I’m prepared,” he said. “I know what to expect, taking advantage like crazy, just trying to make my own playbook which makes sense to me. Writing all the [plays] we get, so they make sense to me.”

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