Training camp is right around the corner. The 2013-14 NFL regular season is less than two months away. What can Tennessee Titans enthusiasts expect from their team as they prepare for those meaningful games that begin in September?
Over the next few days, Titan Sized will give a brief preview on each position. What are some storylines heading into training camp and preseason games? Are there any jobs up for grabs? All players listed are from the roster at titansonline.com.
Let’s start with the quarterbacks:
2013-14 Tennessee Titans Training Camp Participants: Quarterbacks
No. 1: Barring Injury, Jake Locker is the Starting Quarterback
Entering his third season, this is the first time that Locker enters training camp as a lock at starting quarterback. Although Locker started 11 games last season, he spent most of training camp competing with Matt Hasselbeck for the starter job.
Locker has gotten more of the offseason reps than he would’ve had this been a quarterback competition between Fitzpatrick and him. Amount of reps are critical when one considers that Dowell Loggains will install his offense for the first time.
With Locker, leadership isn’t a question. What about staying healthy? Will he avoid endangering himself against bigger defenders (e.g. injuring shoulder in New England Patriots game last season)? Can he avoid errant passes that endanger his receivers? Is he capable of more than a game-manager? How will the Titans use his mobility to their advantage?
No. 2: Ryan Fitzpatrick Replaces Matt Hasselbeck as Backup Quarterback
Fitzpatrick comes over after spending the last few seasons as a starter for the Buffalo Bills. Despite three consecutive seasons with 3,000-plus yards, Fitzpatrick was released this offseason. Critics have accused him of having a weak arm and questionable decision-making.
Due to Locker’s injury history, it’s critical that Fitzpatrick gets acclimated to the offense as quickly as possible. If Locker doesn’t pan out, the coaches’ last hopes may fall on Fitzpatrick’s arm.
No. 3: Will Rusty Smith Make the 53-Man Roster?
For the last three seasons, Smith has been the No. 3 quarterback. Management showed zilch confidence in him when they elected to sign Fitzpatrick for the No. 2 job. Barring injury, Smith and Enderle will compete for the No. 3 job.
Will the Titans keep three quarterbacks? With so many other veteran players fighting for roster spots, the Titans may decide to keep two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Even if they did want a No. 3 quarterback, they could stash someone else on the practice squad—someone who’d qualify (Smith wouldn’t).
Count this as a significant training camp in Smith’s career. Locker’s injury history could play a role in determining whether the Titans want to keep a more-experienced No. 3 quarterback on the 53-man roster. Just like any No. 3 and No. 4 quarterback, Smith will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself.