AFC South: David Stewart

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner is allowing room for sentiment on Sunday.

As he takes the field for the Tennessee Titans against the Houston Texans, it will creep into his head that it could be the last time.

Verner has a great feel for the game and a knack for being around the ball and breaking things up.

“Definitely that thought has occurred to me, but it’s not overriding where I am letting that emotionally distress me or get me away from the game,” Verner said. "It’s definitely crossed my mind that this could be [it]. Could be.”

[+] EnlargeTennessee Titans' Alterraun Verner
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderThe price tag looks to be high for defensive backs Alterraun Verner, No. 20, and Bernard Pollard, both free agents at season's end.
He’s timed things up well. After such a solid season, his price may be at an all-time high. I’m sure the Titans would like to keep him. But they’ve spent two recent offseasons trying to give his job away to Tommie Campbell and clearly see Verner's speed as a deficiency in an otherwise solid game.

Future: They should certainly try to keep him. But at this stage, there is no reason for him not to wait for free agency and check out the market. And I’ll bet a team that thinks it’s a corner away will offer him something bigger than the Titans will.

A look at other guys for whom Sunday could be The Last Time.

Running back Chris Johnson

We’ve written frequently about the cost-versus-production equation for Johnson, most recently here. St. Louis fifth-round pick Zac Stacy has a few more yards and a slightly bigger yards per carry average this season. Stacy made $581,500 in 2013. CJ made $10 million.

Future: It’s not working, as Johnson hasn’t been the playmaker he sold himself as when he got the big contract after three years. He won’t take less money – or sufficient responsibility, for that matter. They should move on.

Right tackle David Stewart

He broke his leg late in the 2012 season and has never returned to form, with all sorts of nagging injuries slowing him down this year. He’s questionable for this game with a shoulder injury. He’s been a tough, physical presence for the team for a long time. But he’s due $6.4 million in 2014.

Future: The Titans cannot pay him that much next year.

Strong safety Bernard Pollard

He’s delivered on what the Titans asked when they signed him for one year, providing attitude and toughness to go with solid play. They’ve used him smartly and if he’s not back they will have a hole that will be difficult to fill in both production and leadership.

Future: They should try to keep him, but it’s unclear what the market will offer. Surely there will be a multi-year deal to be had. Will the Titans offer one?

Defensive end Kamerion Wimbley

He’s not been a fit for the Titans, who grabbed him in 2011 after their failed pursuit of Peyton Manning. When they focused solely on him meant Mario Williams went to Buffalo. Even if there's a new staff and it wants to run a 3-4 that’s more suited to Wimbley, he’s not worth $6 million in 2014.

Future: It’s long been presumed he will be cut.

Wide receiver Damian Williams

He got benched for the Arizona game because of a violation of team rules, but such a slip was totally uncharacteristic. He’s a bright guy who can play every receiver spot. He’s ideal as a fourth with potential to be a solid third.

Future: They should re-sign him.

Wide receiver Kenny Britt

The last year of his initial contract has been a disaster during which he lost confidence and was unable to catch the ball consistently. He’ll likely be inactive again Sunday. In a new setting, perhaps he can recover. But he’ll get a minimum contract or something close to it, when a big season would have set him up as a free-agent prize.

Future: It’s elsewhere.

Quarterback Rusty Smith

He’s been the team’s developmental quarterback for four years, and he could never work his way to a place where the team wanted him to be the No. 2. He ended up in that spot only because of injury.

Future: If he’s not a No. 2 by now, it’s time to move on. Tyler Wilson was a late signing, and should take over the Smith spot as the developmental quarterback.

Defensive end Ropati Pitoitua

Started very strong but hasn’t been as good down the stretch. He gives the Titans good size in their run-down front and would benefit from better linebacker play.

Future: Worth keeping at the right price and contract length.

Defensive tackle Antonio Johnson

He’s a workmanlike run-down defender who’s a good piece as a role player.

Future: Shouldn’t be hard to keep.

Also with expiring contracts: Returner Leon Washington, returner Marc Mariani, running back Jackie Battle, wide receiver Kevin Walter, offensive tackle Mike Otto, interior offensive linemen Rob Turner and Chris Spencer.

The case for and (more) against Munchak

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
12:30
PM ET
Mike MunchakJim Brown/USA TODAY SportsMike Munchak has a .091 winning percentage versus teams finishing the season with winning records.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Monday the Titans begin the process of deciding what to do with Mike Munchak, who’s under contract for one more year as head coach.

Let’s set aside all the predictions and expectations.

We know very little about how team president and CEO Tommy Smith will operate in his new role and how he will balance his family’s long-term relationship with Munchak against the results he’s produced as a head coach. We don’t know if Munchak has the backing of general manager Ruston Webster going forward.

We do know what goes into the case for him and the case against him. So let’s examine those and then delve into things I consider significant issues where I don’t see a clear counterargument in his favor:

For: The Titans are on the verge. They’ve lost six one-possession games this season. Make the jump in just half of those and they could be a 10-win playoff team.

Against: They are unable to finish games, and there is no reason to expect they find it all of a sudden under the same leadership.

For: The division is bad and there is room to get better in a hurry against rebuilding Houston and Jacksonville.

Against: The Titans are 3-8 in the division in the past two seasons and 1-4 this year heading into the finale against Houston. Tennessee lost to the Texans and Jaguars this year when it should be sweeping those teams when they are having down years. That’s the path to actually competing for the division.

For: This roster has stood firmly with Munchak. There has been no dissension. They haven’t quit on him and have been playing hard to the end. His message is working. They work hard to execute what is asked of them.

Against: Having a roster of guys committed to following a coach who’s not doing a good job is nice, but if he’s not doing a good job it doesn’t matter as much. What is asked of them isn’t right often enough. This team’s in-game adjustment to what opponents do is typically poor.

For: Smith has pledged another big offseason, and the Titans will create a spring and summer buzz much like last year’s, when they spent over $100 million on free agents and had the 10th pick in the draft.

Against: The fan base is angry and/or apathetic. The tickets are bought, in part because so many people are financially committed with PSLs. But that hasn’t meant they have showed up. A new coach and staff will also have a free-agent class and draft and that will do a lot more to get Nashville interested.

For: Though they were overmatched, the Titans stood toe-to-toe for a good while with some of the NFL’s best -- Seattle and Denver. They lost twice to the AFC South champion Colts by a combined 11 points.

Against: Munchak is 2-20 -- not a misprint -- against teams that finish the season with a winning record. Whether they are close to the caliber of those teams or not, that is a .091 winning percentage against winning teams. How can Smith endorse that?

For: They could be one player away, and we’ve seen them make a big addition and a big jump before.

Against: The odds of landing Jevon Kearse are small, and the 1998 Tennessee Oilers had more pieces in place than the 2013 Titans do.

For: They’ll move away from Chris Johnson and by doing so they’ll be in line to have the run game they expected this year. This offensive line needed time to jell. In 2014, Shonn Greene and a mid-round draft pick will be more effective.

[+] EnlargeChris Johnson
Don McPeak/USA TODAY SportsMike Munchak wanted the Titans to be a run-first team but inconsistency in the run game plagued Tennessee all season.
Against: Three years in and a Hall of Fame offensive lineman as a head coach with a Hall of Fame offensive line coach still haven’t produced a team that can run consistently. How can they possibly say, “We need more time” and get it? How did lines with injuries in Seattle and Miami manage to play well enough to win? They have to replace David Stewart at right tackle, right? Another change positions them for more excuses about needing time to jell.

For: The Titans didn’t have their starting quarterback for nine games this year. Who wins without their starting quarterback? Injuries to Greene and center Brian Schwenke also hurt.

Against: It would be a good argument if Jake Locker was a proven NFL franchise quarterback. He is not and they sold Ryan Fitzpatrick as a top-flight alternative. We know Locker has potential and is injury prone. Pinning hopes on that for 2014 seems dangerous. The Greene and Schwenke injuries should not be regarded as hugely impactful and are on par with the sort of thing every team in the league deals with.

For: He doesn’t care about the peripheral stuff; he’s not going to play the game. He just wants to coach and do things the right way.

Against: Tough for him. A head coach is a CEO and the responsibilities require more. You have to be a PR guy and a marketer. He doesn’t embrace that stuff and it hurts the franchise. You can’t play the “I just want to coach” card until you’ve proven you can win.

A few other things don’t fit as neatly in a for-and-against format and mostly qualify as arguments against his return.

I think it’s very difficult to make a case for him based on his work in the division, his record against winning teams and his inability to explain what’s wrong.

Warped thinking: Munchak endorsed a foolish onside kick approach with an unconventional, tee-less spinner that kicker Rob Bironas clearly did not like. Worse, the coach judged his team to be 1-for-3 with it rather than 0-for-3 because San Francisco bobbled the kick before recovering it. Note to Munchak: Such a kick is judged a success if, and only if, you recover it. We know it’s very difficult to do. We also know it’s ridiculous to deem one a success when the other team comes out with the ball. Lo and behold, the Titans recover a conventional, high-bounce onside kick during a furious comeback against Arizona.

Straying from his philosophy: Over and over Munchak spoke of how the 2013 Titans would be able to get the tough yard on the ground. These Titans were going to throw it when they wanted to, not when they had to. But given a chance to win the Arizona game with 10 seconds left with a two-point conversion play from the 1-yard line after a penalty, he chose overtime. The team he promised shouldn’t have even considered kicking the extra point. In sharing more about his logic a day later, he said the team hadn’t run it in an hour as it played hurry-up to overcome a big deficit. Shouldn’t a team built around the offensive line and backs be able to run for a yard whether they’d been running it or not?

Salesmanship: He’s a better salesman than he is a head coach. In memorializing Bud Adams when he died, he spoke about how he used to walk the hallways of the team’s facility on a Saturday before the game with Adams and Adams’ friends, looking at the pictures of the team’s history and telling stories. It showed me that Munchak was shrewd in how he dealt with the owner, playing right into what the owner liked and taking Adams right where Adams liked to go. It endeared him to his boss and did a lot to make him the choice when the team and Jeff Fisher parted ways. I expect he will do well selling Smith on the plan going forward. But the team gets better by adjusting the plan, not by selling the plan better to a new person at the top of the organization. Old-time Oilers memories should mean nothing now.

Lame duck: His résumé certainly doesn’t warrant an extension. That means he and his staff would be working as lame ducks in 2014. Lame-duck scenarios aren’t typically healthy. They make it hard to attract players and assistants. They make it easy for a team to tune out if and when things don’t go well.

Testing out our Titans' hindsight

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
2:16
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- My 20-20 hindsight is the only good vision I have.

So it’s time for a big round of second-guessing. Six games into the 2013 season, the Titans are a lot better team than they were a year ago, but they don’t have a ton to show for it at 3-3.

Five things worth some consideration after the fact, if not a full second-guess:

[+] EnlargeDarius Reynaud
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicTitans return man Darius Reynaud isn't impressing anyone on special teams.
Special teams: Mike Munchak fired long-time special teams coach Alan Lowry, moving up assistant Nate Kaczor. The result through six games has been largely bad. The team got a great, long touchdown return from special teams in Seattle. But the group makes the same mistakes on a regular basis, highlighted by return man Darius Reynaud’s willingness to let punts bounce and his determination to bring kickoffs out from deep in the end zone. (I won't even mention he took the first kickoff of the season back into the end zone for a safety. Actually, I just did.) Munchak thought the team was starting to tune out Lowry. But he was pretty good at having his group ready for anything. It’s a far bigger adventure now.

Which begs the question: Was firing Lowry a mistake?

Marc Mariani: While we’re on the subject of Reynaud... At cut down day, the Titans put Mariani on injured-reserve with a shoulder injury that would have only cost him a few more weeks. Their roster wasn’t so drenched with talent that they couldn’t have found space for him until he was healthy. Defensive end Keyunta Dawson stuck, but was cut weeks later when Jake Locker got hurt and they needed space to add Rusty Smith. It turns out Mariani is a way better decision-maker than Reynaud.

Which begs the question: Do they privately regret that they didn’t create a way to have access to Mariani this year?

Sorting out center: Rob Turner won the center completion in the preseason, that was pretty clear. But did the Titans project what he could do correctly? They don’t want to single him out and he’s hardly the only guy having trouble. But they are invested in the other four in a big way and they all have higher ceilings. Turner brings a nastiness, but the attitude doesn’t matter if people are regularly getting past him.

Which begs the questions: Should they have stuck with Fernando Velasco, who’s now with the Steelers? Should they be turning to rookie Brian Schwenke now?

The tackles: All the focus has been on the interior offensive line. But the issues aren’t only with the middle three. Right guard David Stewart has a calf/leg issue having broken that leg less than a year ago. On a good week he practices twice, on a bad week just once. And Michael Roos isn’t run-blocking as well as he has in the past, particularly near the goal line.

Which begs the question: Did they err in taking it for granted that they were fine on the edges?

Paying Chris Johnson: The extension he got in 2011 included a provision that if he was on the roster five days after the Super Bowl in 2013, $9 million of his $10 million salary for this year would be guaranteed. I endorsed the $55 million extension when he got it. The Titans had long lacked an explosive playmaker, and at that point he definitely was one. But since he got it, he’s certainly not proved worth it. Only a knee injury to Shonn Greene has prevented a role reduction so far this season. They could have found a primary back who could do better than CJ’s 3.1-yard average for far less money.

Which begs the question: Is this going to be his final season with the Titans? He’s due $23 million more over the next three years. Unless his production spikes, it will be hard to justify it if they measure cost per yard.
A look at the snap report from the NFL for the Titans in their win over Pittsburgh.

Offense, 67 total snaps
LT Michael Roos, 67
LG Andy Levitre, 67
C Rob Turner, 67
RG Chance Warmack, 67
RT David Stewart, 67
QB Jake Locker, 67

TE Delanie Walker, 51
TE Craig Stevens, 49
RB Chris Johnson, 43
WR Kenny Britt, 43
WR Nate Washington, 38
WR Damian Williams, 27
TE Taylor Thompson, 25
RB Jackie Battle, 19
WR Kendall Wright, 19
FB Collin Mooney, 17
RB Shonn Greene, 4

Greene got hurt early or would likely have had most of Battle’s snaps. The team said Wright’s preseason knee injury wasn’t going to be an issue, but he should get more than that if he’s fine -- especially when Britt is ineffective.

Defense, 53 total snaps
CB Jason McCourty, 53
LB Moise Fokou, 53
LB Zach Brown, 53
FS Michael Griffin, 53

CB Alterraun Verner, 52
SS Bernard Pollard. 51
DE Derrick Morgan, 49
DT Jurrell Casey, 45
CB Coty Sensabaugh, 36
LB-DE Akeem Ayers, 29
DE Kamerion Wimbley, 27
DL Karl Klug, 23
DE Ropati Pitoitua, 19
DT Mike Martin, 17
DT Sammie Hill, 17
S George Wilson, 3
DT Antonio Johnson, 3

The Titans are supposed to be reducing Morgan’s snaps, but Ayers is coming off an ankle injury and they were clearly measuring his work. He wasn’t very effective. Pitoitua showed well. Hill was a big free-agent addition. He had an elbow injury in the preseason and I would expect more action from him.

Four Titans played 18 special-teams snaps: Patrick Bailey, Tommie Campbell, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Daimion Stafford.

Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was the only active player who didn't take the field.

The return of the Twitter mailbag

September, 7, 2013
9/07/13
11:06
AM ET

My 53-man Tennessee Titans roster

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
3:14
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rather than tell you this is what’s going to happen, I’ll tell you this is what would happen if I had influence in the Tennessee Titans meeting room when final cuts will be decided.

Some cuts are already trickling out from Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, so check his Twitter feed.

Quarterbacks: Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick

There just is no room for Rusty Smith and there isn’t a need for a third quarterback unless things go incredibly wrong. The difference between a random third guy and Smith isn’t giant.

Running backs: Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle, Quinn Johnson (FB)

Battle has to contribute on special teams, but he was better than Jalen Parmele through the preseason. Wyatt says Parmele is already gone. Johnson’s been hurt and could lose out to Collin Mooney.

Wide receivers: Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, Justin Hunter, Michael Preston, Marc Mariani (return specialist)

Preston is one of the best 53 players on the team. Even though he won’t be active on Sundays if everyone’s healthy, you keep extra quality depth at one spot if it’s better than weaker depth at another spot. Once he’s healthy, Mariani isn’t as explosive as a punt returner as Darius Reynaud, but will more regularly get 10 yards.

Tight ends: Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens, Taylor Thompson

No need for a fourth on the 53. Sign Jack Doyle to the practice squad

Offensive linemen: Tackles Michael Roos, David Stewart, Mike Otto, Byron Stingily. Interior: Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack, Rob Turner, Brian Schwenke, Fernando Velasco

Velasco is guaranteed $2.02 million under his tender contract out of restricted free agency. I’m not sure he should stick over Scott Solomon at linebacker or Stefan Charles at defensive tackle. But the big push for revamping the line and the desire for depth after last year’s slew of injuries makes me feel like they will stay loaded.

Defensive ends: Derrick Morgan, Ropati Pitoitua, Kamerion Wimbley, Lavar Edwards, Keyunta Dawson.

Dawson is a good guy to have. I can see him staying and the Titans going five ends as opposed to six tackles. But linebacker Akeem Ayers is a nickel end so he factors in here as well.

Defensive tackles: Jurrell Casey, Sammie Hill, Mike Martin, Antonio Johnson, Karl Klug (swing)

I’ve got Stefan Charles over DaJohn Harris but neither making it. If one of them sticks, it’s the last defensive line spot probably over Dawson. I see Charles on the practice squad.

Linebackers: Akeem Ayers, Moise Fokou, Zach Brown, Zaviar Gooden, Colin McCarthy, Patrick Bailey

Scott Solomon is one of my last two cuts. I want to keep seven 'backers. The seventh guy would be a trade-off for Velasco, I think. Solomon is versatile, seems to be catching on to the position change and can still play end if needed. He’s not practice squad eligible. I just can’t fit him here. I might keep him over Bailey but I don’t think they rank him that way.

Safeties: Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard, George Wilson, Daimion Stafford

The fourth spot isn’t strong and Stafford could probably go to the practice squad. But if they choose a veteran -- Al Afalava or Corey Lynch -- as the fourth I could see them trying to upgrade it with an outsider.

Cornerbacks: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Tommie Campbell, Coty Sensabaugh, Blidi Wreh-Wilson

I’d expect Khalid Wooten on the practice squad.

Kicker: Rob Bironas

Punter: Brett Kern

Long-snapper: Beau Brinkley

Observation deck: Titans-Falcons

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
12:58
AM ET

 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If you’re going to post two duds and a stellar game in the preseason, it’s best if the stellar game comes in Week 3, the traditional dress-rehearsal week.

That’s what the Tennessee Titans got Saturday night at LP Field in a 27-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

The defense gave up too much on the Falcons’ first three drives but held strong in the red zone and surrendered a total of six points. The run defense still has room to improve, allowing 4.5 yards per carry to Steven Jackson in the first half.

But things got better overall as the game went on, with five sacks of Matt Ryan and much better shedding of blocks, hitting and tackling.

The headline, however, was provided by young quarterback Jake Locker.

He finished up the first half plus one series with a very solid line: 11-for-13 for 133 yards and a touchdown with a 134.9 passer rating. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble. He threw the ball well and had people catching the ball better for him but for a drive-killing Taylor Thompson drop of a pass thrown a touch behind the tight end.

The mandatory preseason disclaimer: It was a meaningless game against a team that went deep into the playoffs last season but was only 24th in overall defense and 23rd against the pass. Now, two of the Falcons’ top three cornerbacks are rookies -- Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford.

Locker’s bad moments came on the move or under pressure.

On a third-and-7 from the Titans' 35, he didn’t seem quite aware enough and should have been sacked but shrugged out of a blitz. He rolled right and turned to run for a pretty easy first down. But linebacker Joplo Bartu hit him -- and the ball -- as he went down and jarred it loose; safety Thomas DeCoud recovered it.

Beside the fumble, Locker was helpless on two sacks -- one that came from super-quick pressure past right tackle David Stewart, one on which he was pinned in on both sides and taken down as the middle closed in.

In the third quarter, the first-team offense’s lone drive stalled when Locker saw pressure and put his head down rather than feeling the pressure and trying to do something against it.

The positive far outweighed the fumble and the sacks, however.

“This is the first week that we’ve actually put in a game plan. We’d been running base stuff the first two weeks,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “So I think that probably helped a little bit. It helped open up the play-action a little bit and helped Jake.

“I was probably too conservative early on, and once I let him go, he played really well.”

It was a very encouraging night for the quarterback. If the Titans could freeze him right here and put him in practice on Wednesday, Sept. 4, in preparation for the season opener at Pittsburgh, I think they might.

I’ve done some reporting and I’ve learned, exclusively, that such freezing is not an available option.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker
AP Photo/John RussellTitans QB Jake Locker ran three times for 22 yards in addition to his 133 yards through the air.
Some other thoughts:

Run defense still an issue: Jackson took 10 first-half carries 45 yards.

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who’s healthy and playing very well, didn’t like learning those numbers.

“We want to hold guys to 2 yards a carry. One or 2 yards a carry,” Casey said. “We don’t want to give up nothing more than that because then it makes it too hard, a game where they can just pound it down your throat. In order to get to the quarterback, you’ve got to stop them on the run on first and second downs.”

See more about the run defense in this video.

Even having allowed more rushing yards than they’d like, the Titans' pass rush was excellent, with five sacks of Ryan and six overall. Casey had 1½; Derrick Morgan, Mike Martin and Kadarron Anderson had one each. Moise Fokou, Karl Klug and Kamerion Wimbley each had half a sack. Nice distribution.

Double barrel: Chris Johnson looked solid in gaining 65 yards on 11 carries with a nice 20-yard sprint to the right sideline on the Titans' first touchdown drive.

Earlier, on the Titans' second possession, Johnson got the ball on first and second down, gaining 7 yards and then 2. Tennessee sent Shonn Greene on to replace Johnson, and Greene did just what the Titans brought him in to do: find 3 yards to convert the third-and-1.

I asked Johnson if he envisioned that being the way things are going to work.

“I don’t know,” he said.

Another not-smart hit by Bernard Pollard: In the Titans’ first preseason game, Pollard put his head down and hit a Redskin heading out of bounds. That got him a $10,000 fine. In the Titans' second preseason game, he twice got beat on third-and-long, failing to make tackles in situations when he should have. Against Atlanta, on the Falcons' very first drive, he unnecessarily jumped in late on a tackle of Julio Jones and drew another personal foul penalty.

Ankle sprains: The Titans announced that both receiver Nate Washington and running back Greene didn’t finish with the first team because of ankle sprains. Washington said his was actually a right foot injury that wouldn’t cost him time unless the Titans were super cautious; Greene said his was really existing ankle soreness and not serious.

Good red zone defense after allowing the Falcons to get there too easily: The Falcons marched into the red zone on their first three drives but wound up with three field goal attempts and only six points.

“They got down there way too easy,” Casey said. “We let them get explosive plays -- big passes, things like that. We can’t allow that. When they got down there, we did our job by not letting them get in the end zone. That was one of our goals this week -- stopping them in the red zone, and we did that.”

Making a case: Receiver Michael Preston is not going to outrank any of the five receivers ahead of him, but he could be making himself a guy the Titans have to keep as a sixth, and I am hard-pressed to believe he is not one of the team’s 53 best football players.

Preston had three catches for 68 yards from Ryan Fitzpatrick, with a 56-yard bomb setting up Justin Hunter's short TD catch before he hauled in a 6-yard touchdown catch of his own later on.

I wrote about Preston at work on Friday.

“He’s a really good player. He’s been doing that day in, day out at practice,” Loggains said. “He made a big statement for his case to be on this football team again tonight.”

Verner and Turner: Cornerback Alterraun Verner and center Rob Turner started and did nothing that should dent them as the favorites to be named the starters at their respective spots.

Verner was flagged for two penalties against Jones -- a pass interference on a short pass into the middle and an illegal contact on a longer throw. I thought the first one was a good play on a ball Ryan threw a bit behind Jones. Later, Jones beat Verner, who didn’t touch him near the line, on a 42-yard play up the right side. Jones is going to make plays against a lot of corners.

And while Tommie Campbell came in early enough to have a couple chances against Jones and wasn’t victimized in a similar way, he didn’t do anything that should change the Titans' leanings.

Battle vs. Parmele: I thought Jackie Battle was getting a bit too much hype heading into the game. He was running better than Jalen Parmele, but special teams will be a huge factor in one of them winning the No. 3 running back job. I was told before the game, however, that he's close to Parmele on special teams. Battle got a game-high 13 carries for 41 yards. Parmele didn’t get one. Advantage Battle.

Referee change: Ed Hochuli was the ref in the first half, but by design, the game turned over to Wayne Mackie in the second half. He’s typically a field judge. The league is looking for opportunities to get people experience. Mackie communicated well when he had to use his microphone.

But Mackie was buzzed to review Alford’s interception of Fitzpatrick on a throw intended for Hunter. There was absolutely no reason for replay assistant Roger Ruth to buzz Mackie to review that play except to give him practice at it.

And whether the league needs to get a guy game experience or not, two teams, a crowd and a TV audience should not be subject to an unneeded challenge for such purposes.

Pending cuts? The first round of cuts come Tuesday, when the Titans have to get from 90 to 75. Healthy guys who don’t play in the third preseason game are typically being kept from getting hurt, because a team can’t cut an injured player.

Healthy Titans who didn’t play in this game were receiver Justin Hilton, defensive end Nigel Nicholas, guard Oscar Johnson, tackle Barry Richardson, tight end Martell Webb and receiver Rashad Ross. It'll be a surprise if any of them are on the roster Tuesday evening.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pieces of the offensive line are jelling right on the schedule the Tennessee Titans hoped for.

Coach Mike Munchak likes the way relationships have formed between left tackle Michael Roos and left guard Andy Levitre and between right tackle David Stewart and right guard Chance Warmack.

Those guards and the center aren’t at the same place, because they haven’t been working with the same center during a battle between incumbent Fernando Velasco and Rob Turner. Turner is leading, but it’s still not settled.

I talked this week with Levitre and Warmack about those relationships. Levitre said Roos is a great guy, easy to talk to and super-helpful with details of the system. Warmack spoke in much the same terms about Stewart, who’s lovingly known as “Big Country” in the Titans' locker room.

Then Warmack, who played at Alabama, revealed a shocking detail about Stewart.

“He played at Mississippi State, so I mess with him sometime,” Warmack said. “I sing the Alabama song. We had a time when I sang the Alabama song, he got mad at me because he started singing it in the next period. It just got stuck in his head. He got mad at me for that.”

Stewart is the quietest guy on the team, but I managed to get him on camera with his reply to the accusation.

And here is where I send you to my Instagram account -- @pkuharsky -- to see Stewart’s response.

What to watch: Titans-Bengals

August, 17, 2013
8/17/13
10:33
AM ET
Three things I’ll be paying special attention to Saturday evening when the Tennessee Titans play the Bengals in Cincinnati:

1. Jake Locker. The Titans checked down like crazy last week against Washington, and a ridiculously high percentage of his passing yards came after the catch. It’s a preseason game, and they hardly need to be wide open, but it would be nice for the Titans to establish that they can challenge with mid-range and deep passes, and it would be healthy for the offense to have some success in all facets. Locker needs better protection than he got in preseason Week 1.

2. Get off blocks. The first-team defense stayed blocked too long and too often in the preseason opener against Washington. Defenders need to get loose in order to make plays, particularly against the run. The Redskins (No. 1) were a far better running team than the Bengals (18th) in 2012. Whether it’s veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis or rookie Giovani Bernard taking the handoffs, let’s see forward progress from the Titans' run defense.

3. Maintain the run effort. The Titans got big touchdown runs from Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene in the preseason opener. Overall, they ran the ball well, and that’s Item 1 on the list for forming their identity. Fernando Velasco will get the start at center, and while that position is still to be decided, the other four starters will be in place. Right tackle David Stewart didn’t play in the opener, but should play a dozen or 15 plays against the Bengals before he’s the first lineman to yield to a sub.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Look at the Tennessee Titans from any angle and the focus winds up on the same spot: starting quarterback Jake Locker.

The Titans did a lot of overhauling after a miserable 6-10 season. All of it puts the third-year quarterback in a better position to succeed.

“I think throwing with confidence makes a big difference, and that’s what I feel like I am doing this year,” Locker said.

The Titans parted with Matt Hasselbeck and brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick as the No. 2. They are confidant Fitzpatrick can step in and win games if needed, but they have no leash on Locker. The entire organization is committed to him and believes he’s the right guy to quarterback the team to a turnaround.

“He’s really taken ownership,” Fitzpatrick said. “You can see he’s a confident guy, and that’s one thing that you really need as a quarterback. He’s really worked at his game mentally. We’re progression-based now, and he’s really trying to take it to the next level in terms of his footwork and accuracy. This whole offseason I’ve definitely seen improvement.”

Locker will be running an easier, more straightforward system. He’s got a "move" tight end in Delanie Walker (not currently healthy) who adds a dynamic the Titans haven’t had since Locker was drafted with the eighth overall pick in 2011. The receivers are deep and talented. The offensive line could be a dominant group, which should mean a Chris Johnson/Shonn Greene run game will provide great balance. And the defense should get Locker the ball back more often and with better field position.

I’ve seen steady progress and more consistent play in recent practices. But he needs to carry that over into games, and he needs to address two things that might qualify as habits: a tendency to start slow, and a propensity to throw more comfortably and more accurately to his left than to his right.

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeKamerion Wimbley
AP Photo/Tom DiPaceThe Titans hope to give pass-rusher Kamerion Wimbley a lighter workload this season.
1. The pass rush. The Titans generated a reasonable total of 39 sacks last season, with 6.5 from Derrick Morgan and six apiece from Kamerion Wimbley and Akeem Ayers. The Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens ran the same number of defensive plays (1,086), and they had 37 sacks.

But no single player on the Titans’ defensive front ranked as a scheme-changer that offenses had to account for before every play. And the committee work in conjunction with coverage that was far too soft, far too frequently, played a big role in allowing a league-worst 471 points.

They didn’t change a lot at end. They added size in end Ropati Pitoitua, who figures to play a lot of run downs, and depth in fifth-rounder Lavar Edwards. Ayers will be a much more regular presence as a pass-rusher, and both Morgan and Wimbley will play much less than 80 percent of the snaps, which wore them down a year ago. Does all that and a more aggressive scheme influenced by Gregg Williams turn the Titans into a more threatening pass-rushing team? I can’t say yes yet.

2. Two important coaches. Dowell Loggains took over as offensive coordinator with five games left last season, but it’s not like he could revamp everything Chris Palmer was doing. Given an offseason, he has. These Titans will be less reactive and try to dictate more, and the options routes that complicated things and counted on receivers and the quarterback to read things the same way are gone. Things are tailored to Locker now, and Loggains has more talent at his disposal than Palmer did in 2011 or 2012.

On defense, Williams returns from his year in Bountygate exile with a simple promise he expected would help him win players over: That he can make them better. He’s not the same guy he was back when he was the Titans' defensive coordinator from 1997-2000, but the season suspension certainly made him reflect and he comes back a different guy from the one who was coordinator for the Saints. I suspect he will positively impact key guys on this defense like Ayers, cornerback Tommie Campbell, safety Michael Griffin and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.

3. The offensive line. Last season was a disaster, as the Titans had to call on more depth than any team can have. But the franchise counted on coach Mike Munchak and another offensive line Hall of Famer, line coach Bruce Matthews, to develop guys. A couple they counted on who never reached the expected level are gone now, and the Titans have much better players in place of Leroy Harris and Eugene Amano.

With a line of Michael Roos, Andy Levitre, Fernando Velasco/Robert Turner/Brian Schwenke, Chance Warmack and David Stewart, Tennessee feels like it has re-identified its identity.

“If we’re going to win, it’s going to be because our offensive line is a lot better than it was last year, and we’re physical, and we’re relentless, and we’re going to move people around on both sides of the ball,” Munchak said at the start of camp.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

They identified last season’s issues and have addressed them all in some fashion. That’s with coaching staff alterations, changes in thinking and scheme, major player additions in free agency and a draft that looks solid. This isn’t a team that sat back and assumed that given another year of seasoning, its 6-10 record could turn into 10-6. It took action. Now we have to find out if the moves and changes total up and produce a big difference in overall outcome.

[+] EnlargeJake Locker and Chandler Jones
AP Photo/Joe HowelThe Titans need QB Jake Locker to make big strides quickly if they are to survive a tough early schedule.
REASON FOR PESSIMISM

The unproven quarterback and the schedule. The Titans open at Pittsburgh and at Houston, and also play San Diego, a team Tennessee always struggles with, at Seattle and San Francisco before the Oct. 27 bye. It’s impossible to predict how the competition will be. But through the first seven games, 4-3 might qualify as pretty good but might still leave them having to chase to get into playoff contention.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • Campbell has looked really good, and his physical makeup is tremendous, but is he ready to handle the mental end of the job? The team wants to play more press, physical coverage, and he’s suited to do so. They hyped him a year ago in camp then didn’t trust him enough to play him. We heard even better things about him this offseason, but recently they’ve put out the word not to count out Alterraun Verner and Campbell was tentative in the preseason opener. If they can’t get Campbell onto the field given his physical characteristics, I’ll question the effectiveness of the coaches who have raved so regularly.
  • Linebacker Colin McCarthy finally climbed back into the starting unit recently, then was sidelined the very next day with a hamstring injury. He’s a good player, but he’s always dealing with something. They are prepared to go with Moise Fokou, and I expect it’ll be very much a two-down job. The Titans are relying on all defenders getting a signal from the sideline, so the coach-to-player communication device won’t be a factor that helps keep a middle linebacker on the field.
  • Undrafted kicker Maikon Bonani has a giant leg, but he has to improve his control. Rob Bironas is recovering from back issues.
  • Weakside linebacker Zach Brown came into the league facing a charge by a prominent draft analyst that he was allergic to contact. He’s been anything but, and his growth as a rookie was a bright spot. He and rookie Zaviar Gooden are blazers at linebacker who can help the Titans deal with some of the tough coverage mismatches created against other offenses.
  • I expect offenses to target strong safety Bernard Pollard in the passing game. He’s an in-the-box safety, though he bristles at conversation about his coverage skills. The Titans plan to use George Wilson also, and he’s a more sound coverage safety. Pollard has brought needed swagger. But I wonder if Wilson won’t ultimately wind up with more snaps.
  • Two eye-catching undrafted rookies at camp have been tight end Jack Doyle and defensive tackle Stefan Charles.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The offensive line the Tennessee Titans expect to lead their revitalization worked (mostly) together for a bit over a quarter Thursday night.

The identity change is underway, but hardly complete.

The offensive line is going to be the backbone of this team, but in its work with four of five starters in place, it had mixed results against Washington in what wound up being a 22-21 loss at LP Field.

The line freed Chris Johnson for a 58-yard touchdown sprint and Shonn Greene for a 19-yard scoring run. But it also allowed for two sacks of Jake Locker, as Chance Warmack was badly beaten on Locker’s second drop back and Michael Roos later gave up a sack to Brian Orakpo, who had an easy time dipping past the blocker and getting to the quarterback.

Warmack pulled and made a nice block on a defensive back on Greene’s score -- "an RBI block,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains called it. Warmack looked good when he got to the second level. But he was frequently pushed back by Washington defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins and looked to be flat-footed and too high too often on other plays where his man didn’t necessarily wind up doing any damage.

He’s certainly allowed time to settle in. And he was playing beside tackle Mike Otto, not David Stewart, who was rested in his first chance at game action since he suffered a broken leg late last season.

“There were some things I did that I thought I could get away with in terms of technique and I learned that you’ve got to use it a little bit differently,” Warmack said, specifically mentioning one play, 22-Power, where he didn’t approach the nose tackle correctly.

Rob Turner started at center and is part of a competition with incumbent Fernando Velasco and rookie Brian Schwenke who’s out with a hamstring injury.

Tennessee’s still got a lot of room for improvement before it earns that ID.

“I think we took a step in that direction,” Roos said. “We had some big runs, we had a lot of short-yardage second downs, third downs and shorts where we’re running power or whatever we need to run and getting those first downs.

“That’s part of the identity, knowing we want to run it, they know we want to run it, and being able to do it and getting that first down. We were better running than in the pass, we’ve been working on it so much, making it back to our identity, smash mouth. First preseason game, usually the pass game is a little rusty. I think it was not great. We’ll have time to keep working at it and keep the chemistry moving in the right direction.”

Some other observations ...

Locker’s night: Locker’s decision-making was OK, but the two sacks in 25 plays didn’t help him get anything going. I don’t know that he could have done much to avoid either as they developed so quickly. His first pass, down the middle to Kenny Britt, should have been picked off by rookie cornerback David Amerson but bounced off his forearm. Kendall Wright hurt him with a drop (see more in a bit).

Seven completions in 11 passes for 58 yards and a 77.1 rating. Hopefully he picks up on the practice progress he’s been making and is able to do more in Cincinnati on Aug. 17th.

Loggains said he was pleased and that Washington’s soft zone forced the Titans underneath and Locker didn’t force things.

CJ’s home run: Johnson found open field when he cut back from right to left and then inside rookie safety Baccari Rambo, who wobbled at the move.

“I think last year [Johnson] was trying to make too many big plays, bouncing it,” Loggains said. “When he got in the open field on the rookie safety Rambo, he got vertical. He put his foot in the ground and he just outran everyone.

"That’s the CJ we know, the speed that he showed he still has. As long as he does that and continues to take coaching, he’s going to have a big year.”

Run defense: The Titans' run defense is another element of this team that is supposed to be a lot better. It wasn’t very good in this game. Defenders were pushed around at times and didn’t seem to consistently and collectively fight off blocks to get free and get to the ball carrier.

Roy Helu had a 4.4-yard average as the primary Washington running back in the first half with 13 carries.

“That’s too much,” Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan said. “ We have to do a better job of fitting up and tackling.”

Drops: Wright killed a drive with a drop in the flat when Locker delivered the ball in a spot where the receiver was going to have a lot of room to run with it on a third-and-3 from near midfield.

Loggains had given Locker and Wright advance warning that they’d use that play on an upcoming third-and-short.

“[Wright] took off running before he caught it,” Loggains said. “That’s not going to happen very often.”

Michael Preston dropped a third-down pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick that ended the first drive after halftime.

Off coverage: I look forward to seeing the increased press coverage the Titans have talked about from their corners. They didn’t use it in the first half of this game, largely lining up off.

It doesn’t mean anything more than it’s what they decided to use on this with their starters. They were tighter in second half. But Tommie Campbell was nothing special, off or on.

RTC: Colts talking run offense

August, 1, 2013
8/01/13
7:43
AM ET
Reading the coverage ...

Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins is emulating Andre Johnson to the point where he’s beating the veteran to the hot tub for a morning soak, says Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle.

Joe Mays hopes fans forgive him for last year’s hit on Matt Schaub, says Tania Ganguli of the Chronicle.

Rookie right tackle Brennan Williams needed to have fluid drained from his recently scoped knee, says Robertson.

Hopkins was well covered by Jonathan Joseph on two one-on-one red zone snaps but the rookie receiver still managed to win both, says Lance Zierlein of Z Report.

Indianapolis Colts

Among five Wednesday observations from Chappell, John Chapman’s penetration from nose tackle.

Greg Toler was on the sideline at the end of practice with a concussion, according to The Associated Press.

Owner Jim Irsay and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton are both talking about the importance of running the ball, which kind of makes Andrew Mishler of Stampede Blue wary.

Ryan Lilja signed with Denver, where he’s reuniting with Peyton Manning, says the AP. The two had great success as teammates with the Colts.

Coby Fleener is generating buzz, says Marcus Dugan of Colts Authority.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are preaching that “it’s all about the ball” as the defense searches for takeaways, says Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union.

Luke Joeckel’s avoided looking like a rookie in the early days of Jaguars training camp, says Hays Carlyon of the Times-Union.

Denard Robinson was out to practice to catch passes 20 minutes early, says O’Halloran’s in the T-U’s daily camp report.

Blaine Gabbert said he’ll be all the way back in practice today with his sprained right ankle "unless something magical pops up," says AP’s Mark Long.

Gus Bradley said eight or nine reps in a row for the defense might have been too much, from Wednesday’s “Inside the Jaguars” episode from Jaguars.com.

Geno Hayes is looking at his first year with the Jaguars as a reinvention, says John Oehser of the team's website.

Tennessee Titans

With running backs reliant on instincts, how much do running back coaches influence what their guys do? John Glennon of The Tennessean considers the question.

Kenny Britt tied something new this offseason and mostly stayed out of New Jersey, says Glennon.

Ryan Fitzpatrick swallowed his pride a little to sign for a backup job with the Titans, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Former Titans running back Jamie Harper is asking for support after an arrest, says Wyatt.

Colin McCarthy was back working as the starting middle linebacker on Wednesday, says Glennon.

David Stewart’s had a picture of him and Bernard Pollard ready to fight each other in a Titans-Chiefs game from 2009, for some time. The Titans right tackle asked the team’s new strong safety to sign it, says Teresa Walker of the AP.

Quick Titans practice notes

July, 30, 2013
7/30/13
10:01
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The last several periods of Tennessee Titans practice were held in a pouring rain Tuesday night.

When they were over, most of the team headed for the fence line and high-fived their way down the row of fans who endured the rain before heading for the locker room.

Mike Munchak kept the Titans outside since the fields drained well and there was no lightning in the area, allowing his guys to work with a wet ball and in tough conditions.

The offense was crisp and Jake Locker had what was probably his best practice in five since the team got started.

[+] EnlargeTennessee's Chance Warmack
Jim Brown/USA TODAY SportsIn his first practice since signing, guard Chance Warmack (70) got half of the first-team reps.
Some quick notes:

Chance Warmack: The Titans ran the first play from scrimmage in a team period behind Warmack, the right guard and first-round pick who signed Monday and was at his first practice of camp.

"Power football at its finest," Munchak said of a run play behind Warmack and right tackle David Stewart.

Warmack got the first half of the first-team reps through the evening for a total of 20 or 25.

Earlier he sang "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" to his teammates, a performance that could have made one of the early episodes of American Idol when you see bad acts, Munchak said.

Locker looked good: I thought it was his best practice of camp. He handled the weather just fine, as you'd expect from a guy from Washington.

He made several very good throws, including a quick hit to Kenny Britt up the left side that got over Alterraun Verner and arrived well in advance of Michael Griffin. That was part of a very well-executed hurry up drive that also included a nice play-action pass on a roll to his right to Kendall Wright.

Later, from relative close range, Locker dropped back and hit Kenny Britt with a quick, low pass (a mini-fade, if you will) to the back left corner of the end zone. Britt caught it over linebacker Moise Fokou, then punted it in celebration.

The Pistol: The Titans ran some plays out of the pistol formation, which amounts to a half shotgun with the quarterback back from the center only a bit and the back typically straight behind him.

"It doesn't quite tip off what runs you can do when the back is offset," Munchak said. "The offense has more options for what they can do."

Locker ran well from it. I don't know if others who were part of it from the backfield or split out on that side were fully comfortable.

Stop and start: With the offense pinned close to the goal line, Chris Johnson took a handoff and rounded the left edge, he put a stop-start move on Griffin that could have broken one of Griffin's ankles and left him in the dust.

Not all offense: Pass-rush coach Keith Millard was praising the defensive line frequently for quality snaps. And Munchak pointed out after practice that while the offense looked good, part of it was that the defense was doing what it's supposed to -- peeling off when it had the quarterback in trouble and allowing the play to go on.
Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean was first to report the NFL has completed its first-round signings: Chance Warmack and the Tennessee Titans have a deal.

The grand total is five missed days and four missed practices. The Titans are off today, but they'll be in full pads Tuesday night. Warmack is certain to be there.

Perhaps Mike Munchak will make him wait a little before he's plugged in as the starter. More likely, I expect Warmack will go right back where he was for OTAs and minicamp.

He'll work along side right tackle David Stewart, who was out for offseason work as he recovered from a broken leg. Rob Turner, Fernando Velasco and, once his hamstring is healed, rookie Brian Schwenke will get time at center in one of the team's bigger competition.
It's worth $12,166,646 over four years. He gets a $5 million signing bonus. The deal includes offset language, which was the major point under debate.

That's technically a win for the Titans, as it means if Warmack is cut during this deal, the Titans would be off the hook for what he's owed if he's on another team collecting another salary that matches or surpasses it.

As I said at the start of camp, the offset issue didn't deserve to be a big deal.

But four missed practices aren't a big deal either.
We pick up our series in which ESPN.com’s resident scout, Matt Williamson, ranks the AFC South position by position.

Today, we examine offensive lines.

Williamson’s AFC South offensive line rankings:
1) Titans (Michael Roos, Andy Levitre, Fernando Velasco/Brian Schwenke, Chance Warmack, David Stewart)
2) Texans (Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Brandon Brooks/Ben Jones, Derek Newton/Brennan Williams)
3) Jaguars (Eugene Monroe, Will Rackley, Brad Meester, Uche Nwaneri, Luke Joeckel)
4) Colts (Anthony Castonzo, Donald Thomas/Joe Reitz, Samson Satele/Khaled Holmes, Hugh Thornton/Mike McGlynn, Gosder Cherilus)

I place them in the same order.

Just on those lists, which try to outline the likely starting units and include 27 names for 20 spots, one-third of the players are newcomers to the division.

SportsNation

Matt Williamson's ranking of AFC South offensive line units is:

  •  
    41%
  •  
    42%
  •  
    17%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,052)

Everybody will be better.

My questions for Williamson based off his list:

Your overall assessment of the position in the AFC South?

Matt Williamson: I expect the Texans and Titans to have two of the best offensive lines in the NFL in 2013. Both should be drastically improved, and in fact, so should Indy's and Jacksonville's with the massive improvement at right tackle.

Any concern about Titans jelling with two or even three new starters? Are you expecting Roos and Stewart to play better than they did in 2012 with better talent between them?

MW: Tennessee’s offensive line could take a while to jell with the interior being so different and counting on a rookie, but you would think this coaching staff should excel in that department if nothing else. As for Roos and Stewart, I do worry that we have already seen the best of both players and they are starting to decline, but I still expect the Titans to feature a top-10 set of offensive tackles overall. And wow, was their interior bad in 2012!

What's Indy's potential for improvement based on its additions in free agency and the draft? How much will Pep Hamilton's quicker passing system protect the line?

MW: The short passing game will certainly help Indy in protection, but so will the addition of at least two new starters. The Colts just have much better football players starting right now than in 2012.

How did the right side of the Texans group fare last year, and why are you expecting better?

MW: I think Houston is much better off on the right side of its line than a year ago -- which could be huge. The right side of the Texans' line did struggle last year, but hopefully they get away from rotating players there in and out, and I expect Brooks and/or Jones to improve. (I am especially high on Brooks.) Plus, Williams is an excellent fit at right tackle for this scheme if he can seize the starting job.

How much better can the Jags' line be with the addition of Joeckel, return of a healthy Rackley, a healthy Nwaneri and a scheme heavier on zone stuff?

MW: I expect Monroe to continue to quietly be nearly dominant and Joeckel to do very well right from the start, but I don't have a lot of faith in the interior. But just improving on what might have been the league's worst right tackle situation in 2012 should pay off for the Jags.

Who are the weakest links in the division among projected starters?

MW: I would say the interior of Jacksonville’s line is the weakest spot in the division. Outside of the tackles, I don't see a real mobile group to transition to the zone-blocking scheme, either. And I have little faith in Rackley overall. That could be next year's offseason project (among many other things).

As for me …
  • I hope Brooks lives up to what we've heard about him this offseason. I'd like to see the Texans with a very big right guard who has special feet.
  • J.J. Watt's influence is certainly being felt here. The reigning defensive player of the year is part of why we could see entirely new interior line starters for both the Titans and Colts.
  • Rackley will be under a large spotlight and rightly so. He missed his second year with an injury. Will we see a second-season jump, or does he turn out to be a Gene Smith leftover who hurts this team? New line coach George Yarno will have a lot do with how it pans out.
  • The Titans' offensive line has to be good for the team's overall plan to have a chance to unfold. I expect it will be very good, and the depth will be better should they run into injuries again.
  • Cherilus reportedly had a major knee procedure. The Colts clearly are confident he will be OK.

SPONSORED HEADLINES