Monday, May 13, 2013
Antonio Johnson deepens Titans at DT
By Paul Kuharsky
Antonio Johnson gave the Indianapolis Colts almost five solid years of service.
Originally a fifth-round pick by the Titans out of Mississippi State in 2007, Bill Polian reluctantly signed him off Tennessee’s practice squad when the Colts were thinned out to a ridiculous degree by injuries to the interior defensive line in 2008.
Polian rarely signed guys off other team’s practice squads. Though, it’s a perfectly legal way of adding a player, Polian felt it qualified as “poaching.”
Johnson played in 67 games with 46 starts for Indianapolis. Though, he’s much more a 4-3 defensive tackle than a 3-4 nose tackle, he played the nose for the Colts last year in the first season of the transition to the three-man line under Chuck Pagano.
He got to free agency this year and the Colts weren’t interested in re-signing him as they’ve got Josh Chapman and Brandon McKinney set to return from injuries. Chapman’s been playing the nose so far in offseason work, which McKinney is set to be ready for camp. The Colts also added veteran run stopper Aubrayo Franklin and draft pick Montori Hughes.
They will be much better manned with 3-4 personnel in Pagano’s second season.
So Johnson has come full circle, signing to re-join the Titans who continue to add people and create competition. Sammie Hill and Jurrell Casey are certain to be on the team. I can't imagine Mike Martin not sticking. The defensive tackles beyond them will be in a dogfight for roster spots and roles.
That group now includes Karl Klug, DaJohn Harris, Zach Clayton and Johnson.
The Titans finished 2012 with five defensive tackles on their roster.
Like offensive line and receiver, defensive tackle is going to be a very interesting position to watch shake out.