What can Tennessee Titans fans expect from the linebackers during the 2013-14 NFL season? Barring injuries, the three starters are set with Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown and Colin McCarthy. These players combine for five years of experience, none of who have more than two years. Add in third-round pick Zaviar Gooden and this team has one the NFL’s most athletic linebacker corps. Now can they cover a tight end?
Those four players are all-but-locks to make the Week 1 roster. How will the rest of the depth chart look? That isn’t as obvious. As of June 21, titansonline has 10 players who are competing for roster spots as linebackers. Below are those players and how they could survive the final cuts.
Locks (4): Akeem Ayers, Zach Brown, Colin McCarthy, Zaviar Gooden
Special Teamer (Pick 1): Tim Shaw or Patrick Bailey
Near Locks (1): Moise Fokou
Others (Pick 1 or 2): Scott Solomon, Greg Jones, Jonathan Willard
Typically, 4-3 teams keep between six to eight linebackers. Some players are kept for their special teams ability. An example of that comes with Shaw, who has spent much of his last three seasons as a special teams captain and-or leading the team in special teams tackles.
Fans should keep an eye on Fokou. This offseason, the Titans signed Fokou to provide depth behind the oft-injured McCarthy. One of the main reasons for the Titans’ poor defensive play from the 2012-13 season was the drop off of quality middle linebacker play when McCarthy was nursing injuries. Injuries have played a major role in McCarthy’s career.
According to a report from The Washingtonian, Fokou faces a October trial date from a DUI citation that occurred in January. Expect Fokou to get cleared from those charges. Even if he doesn’t, it shouldn’t have any effect on his job security because the trial doesn’t happen until the second month of the regular season.
What does Fokou offer on the gridiron? The fifth-year linebacker is with his third team. Despite that, the journeyman has received many of the first-team reps during OTAs (then again, Pannel Egboh received first-team reps). At 6-1 and 236 pounds, Fokou relies on his speed and physicality to offset his height disadvantage. Fokou has the versatility and experience to provide depth at outside linebacker, inside linebacker or with any 3-4 looks.
A poor preseason showing could hurt Fokou. But with his competition mostly coming from specialists, an undrafted free agent and a defensive end transitioning to linebacker, Fokou has a great chance to make the team at an area that’s often needed because of injuries.
What do our readers believe? Will Fokou make the 2013-14 Tennessee Titans Week 1 roster?