AFC South: Ray Maualuga
There is a youth movement coming in the Titans’ future.
I went to linebacker coach Dave McGinnis for an assessment of McRath -- a fourth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi. McRath would actually be in line to start Sunday in San Francisco if Thornton, who missed two practices and was limited in another this week with a hip injury, can’t play.
Here’s what McGinnis said:
“Those first-rounders that came out this year -- Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Aaron Curry -- those are exceptional players already with NFL bodies. I still love everything about Gerald McRath. What he needs is more bulk. He needs more strength. He’s got the mind for it. He’s got the GPS to the ball for it. What he needs is an offseason of [strength and conditioning coach] Steve Watterson so that he can get his body up to speed with what is required in this league. The rest of it, I’ve got no doubts about.”
“I’m not ready to canonize him. He’s a good prospect. He’s a smart kid. I love everything about him. But I’m real cautious about canonizing first-year players in this league especially at that position. You’ve got three real special guys that came out this year, really four with Maualuga, that you could put in and say, ‘OK, these guys are ready to fit in just because of their physical stature.’”
McRath is becoming a core special-teams guy and McGinnis said he’d be perfectly willing to insert him on defense if he was needed.
The biggest adjustment for a rookie linebacker is learning how to use his hands, McGinnis said. In college with so much spread stuff, McRath could dip a shoulder or run through people. Now he will get grabbed, slammed, or thrown down and he needs to strike people in a way he’s never done before. He's getting to do some of that working on special teams.