Tennessee Titans: Wesley Woodyard

RTC: Antonio Johnson had surgery

August, 13, 2014
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

Linebacker Colin McCarthy could be heading for season-ending shoulder surgery, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. McCarthy will see Dr. James Andrews on Monday.

The Titans are developing a feel for rookie running back Bishop Sankey, says Wyatt. "This offense has to do it collectively, and make the splash plays that C.J. [Chris Johnson] made,” Ken Whisenhunt said. “But we believe in him, and what we have seen so far, we like what we see."

Defensive lineman Antonio Johnson is rehabilitating from a recent knee scope, reports Wyatt.

Predictions on running numbers for the Titans' top three backs, from Wyatt.

Three years ago, Jake Locker played great in New Orleans against the Saints in the Titans' final preseason warm-up, recalls David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

Wesley Woodyard makes Sports Illustrated’s All-Overrated Defensive Team and Michael Oher and Chance Warmack make the All-Overrated Offensive Team, both put together by Doug Farrar.

To which I say: Maybe that’s what Oher read that got him talking about being disrespected. I know he feels he played better last year than many scouts and analysts gave him credit for. And GM Ruston Webster has said the Titans hope to get him back to form from earlier in his career -- as compared to getting the version who played in Baltimore last year.

There are more questions than answers at inside linebacker, says Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus upon his review of the Titans' play against the Packers. Taylor Lewan scored well.

Tuesday practice notes from Wyatt.

Tuesday practice notes from Joe Fann of Titans Online.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Often times, a team has a hole and feels a ticking clock until it’s filled.

Good drafting requires talent recognition, patience and an understanding of how your peers value positions and people.

The Tennessee Titans need a running back, and taking one in the second round could amount to hurrying there, though they could reasonably take Tre Mason, Carlos Hyde or even Jeremy Hill.

They don’t have a third-round pick, but could easily wait until the fourth or even fifth round to snag a running back. They believe, as do many analysts, that there are capable backs who will be available then.

I think they need an inside linebacker, too.

They brought in free-agent Wesley Woodyard to man one of the spots in the middle in the new 3-4 scheme. Holdover Moise Fokou has some NFL 3-4 experience. After that, are the guys they have in the middle -- Zach Brown, Colin McCarthy, Zaviar Gooden -- correctly cast there?

I think a young guy who is tailored to the system and can be on the field every down is a need. Alabama’s C.J. Mosley is an attractive candidate who will be a first-round pick.

But just like teams believe running backs can be found later, the view is often the same about interior linebackers.

“I think typically you can get those guys in the middle rounds,” general manager Ruston Webster said. “There’s some depth at that spot.”

It seems to me it’s advantageous to be in need at two spots where there will not be any sort of mad rush for players, and the shape of and priorities in the draft will allow the Titans to focus elsewhere earlier if they so desire.
Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans ...

The Titans hope former Broncos Wesley Woodyard and Shaun Phillips help give them leadership in addition to production, says Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Woodyard said his benching in Denver was a messed-up situation, writes John Glennon of The Tennessean.

Damian Williams’ deal with Miami seems properly proportional to the one Kenny Britt got in St. Louis, says David Boclair of the Nashville Post.

How did the running back class of 2008 with Chris Johnson shake out? Tom Gower of Football Outsiders examines that in a piece looking very thoroughly as that draft.

Ken Whisenhunt was part of an event to fight Duchenne muscular dystrophy, says Craig Peters of the Titans' website.

To which I say: While Whisenhunt has done a lot of work in the early days of his tenure with the Titans, he’s also managed to do a good job of getting out in Nashville and being part of important stuff like this.

Reading the coverage of the Tennessee Titans…

Details on the redone deals of Kamerion Wimbley and Craig Stevens and the new contract for Chris Spencer, from Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

Jason McCourty says the Titans have quality in-house options after the departure of Alterraun Verner, per Jim Wyatt.

Wesley Woodyard looks as the new Titans defense and says it is made for linebackers to make plays, per Craig Peters on the team’s web site.

New right tackle Michael Oher could force the Titans to use tight ends for blocking help more often, says Will Lomas of Music City Miracles.

Tuesday marks a week since free agency opened. Let's look at what has unfolded for the Tennessee Titans to this point.


RB Dexter McCluster (Kansas City) -- He looks to be more a running back than a receiver in their initial thinking. Catching passes out of the backfield will likely be his biggest role in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense.

DL Al Woods (Pittsburgh) -- The Titans have looked at a lot of versatile defensive linemen, and Woods is the one they’ve managed to add so far. He can play anywhere on a three-man line but provides a nice option in the middle.

LB Wesley Woodyard (Denver) -- He’ll bring quality leadership and is expected to fit comfortably as a 3-4 inside linebacker, a spot at which the Titans need to continue to upgrade their options.

QB Charlie Whitehurst -- A veteran quarterback who’s hardly played but was in Whisenhunt’s offense last year in San Diego. Will have more of a chance at playing time behind Jake Locker than he did behind Philip Rivers.

RT Michael Oher -- A big, durable, physical offensive lineman who’s in line to take over at right tackle. He’s been penalty prone and hasn’t progressed a ton in five years with the Ravens, but if he improves, he could be a big answer.

Visitors who remain unsigned

LB Akeem Jordan (Kansas City) -- Could be a good option as the short-area inside linebacker.

DT Pat Sims (Oakland) -- A run stopper who could likely contribute on run downs.


SS Bernard Pollard -- The outspoken thumper did a lot to help restore the Titans to relevance last season and fits very nicely with Michael Griffin in the middle of the Titans' secondary. Sounded fired up about the new regime.

DE Ropati Pitoitua -- A giant defensive end who did some good work in the 4-3 last season. He’s even better cast for the new hybrid front that will have a significant 3-4 element.

KR Leon Washington -- He settled the return game down substantially after he joined the team late in the season. McCluster could render Washington redundant, but starting out with multiple options for the return game is a good thing.

RB Jackie Battle -- The Titans are heading toward a committee of running backs. Battle should be the backup to the Shonn Greene piece of it plus a special teamer.

Signed away

CB Alterraun Verner (Tampa Bay) -- A very productive corner who was the Titans’ lone Pro Bowler in 2013. They never expected to get him back, and though his price wasn’t what his agent expected, he bolted to be part of the Cover-2 Lovie Smith will run.


RT David Stewart -- Beat up and expensive after nine seasons, he sounded like he’s leaning strongly to retirement after he got the news from the only organization for which he’s played.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick -- Interception prone and too streaky, he still ranked as a serviceable veteran backup in a bleak landscape for them. Whitehurst takes his place and saved the Titans a $500,000 roster bonus.

Still out there

WR Kenny Britt -- Interest in a reclamation project is reportedly coming from St. Louis, New England and Washington.

G-C Chris Spencer -- He’s a player the Titans could use back to work behind Andy Levitre, Brian Schwenke and Chance Warmack.

DT Antonio Johnson -- Has 3-4 experience from Indianapolis but with Woods added Johnson hardly ranks as a priority at this point.

WR Damian Williams -- A smart and versatile receiver. He can be good as the fourth or fifth guy, but it's a loaded free-agent pool and draft class at receiver.

Also: C Kevin Matthews, OT Mike Otto, QB Rusty Smith, C Rob Turner, RS-WR Marc Mariani.
New Tennessee Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard was a 4-3 player who played better on the weakside than in the middle last year in Denver.

He’s been in a 3-4 before. And the Titans project him as an inside guy in their new scheme, which they are tabbing as hybrid but will clearly be anchored in 3-4.

So how does he translate?

Often the bigger of the two inside guys, sometimes called the jack, is a former undersized college defensive end who can move a bit.

Woodyard doesn't project there, but he could play the will inside spot with ease and worked in the 3-4 in Denver when Josh McDaniels his coach. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan ran the 3-4 in Denver in 2009 and Don Martindale ran it in 2010, so Woodyard practiced in it a bunch.

Joe Collier, who Bill Belichick has credited with teaching him the 3-4, still lives in Denver. ESPN.com Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold said Collier says the inside linebackers can make the easiest transition from 4-3 to 3-4 because a lot of the responsibilities translate. So you can play 230, 240 pounders in there and get away with it if the line is good enough.

The Titans looked at a lot of linemen to this point in free agency. So far they’ve landed just one -- Al Woods, who’s versatile enough to play up and down the line but probably at his best in the middle.
The Titans have added a versatile linebacker who will enhance their flexibility at the position as they go with a hybrid front featuring at least a share of 3-4.

Wesley Woodyard has agreed to terms with the Titans. He texted ESPN's Josina Anderson: "I'm about to sign with the Titans."

Woodyard was the second leading tackler on the Denver Broncos in 2013 with 83. The Broncos use press box statistics rather than their own coaching totals for tackles, as most teams do. He had 1.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

Denver ran a base 4-3 and Woodyard started 10 games at middle linebacker.

Bill Polian's scouting report on him:
His stats are impressive and he is credited with a lot of tackles, but when you watch him closely a lot of that production comes after the ball carrier is on the second level. He has the versatility to play inside and outside, but isn't always stout at the point of attack versus the inside run, partially because of a lingering neck strain suffered early in the season. Woodyard's cover skills are still solid.

Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reports it's a four-year deal worth up to $14 million.

The first numbers that we have coming in on many new deals usually become more reasonable when we find out how much of the "up to" part is incentives.

While Akeem Ayers and Kamerion Wimbley easily project to outside linebackers in a 3-4, it's less clear how others like Zach Brown, Moise Fokou, Colin McCarthy, Zaviar Gooden and Patrick Bailey will fit in.

Woodyard, 6-feet tall and 233 pounds, was reportedly better and more comfortable on the weakside than in the middle.

He's been a captain for the Broncos, so the Titans are also acquiring leadership.