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Monday, April 29, 2013
On how Titans could use Zaviar Gooden

By Paul Kuharsky

The Titans' selection of Zaviar Gooden in the third round confused me a bit.

The Missouri linebacker was the fastest player in his position in the draft, but the Titans just drafted that guy last year in Zach Brown.

Given some time to consider the move, I can envision a smart way to use him if he’s ready to play on defense as a rookie.

Last year, linebacker injuries meant the Titans often used a nickel linebacker who wasn’t part of the base defense. I suspect they may go that direction in 2013 -- by choice.

Akeem Ayers may blitz plenty out of three-linebacker sets. But he may move up and function some as an end in rush situations. Or, he could yield to Gooden in nickel when the Titans look to get their best, fastest coverage backers on the field.

Ayers was typically off the field in nickel last season.

Injury-prone middle linebacker Colin McCarthy would be protected by being on the field a bit less when healthy. He probably should be the first backer off the field when an extra defensive back comes on.

So there is room for Gooden to play on defense, even at the start. And the Titans can now withstand an injury to Brown.