Training camp is right around the corner. The 2013-14 NFL regular season is fewer 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.
We’ve covered quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. It’s time to glance over the tight ends.
2013-14 Tennessee Titans Training Camp Participants: Tight Ends
No. 1: What Does Delanie Walker Offer that Jared Cook Didn’t?
It’s strange when a team may have improved at a position despite paying his replacement nearly half of what he received on the free-agent market. For the Titans, they’re hoping that’s the case after they let Cook signed with the St. Louis Rams. His replacement, Walker, is a better-rounded tight end who brings veteran leadership and credibility to the offense.
There’s no doubt that Walker is nowhere near the elusive threat that Cook could’ve been in the passing game. Walker is more of the traditional style of tight end.
No. 2: Taylor Thompson a “Secret Superstar?”
Check out this analysis from June 13. Pro Football Focus writer Nathaniel Peters-Kroll labeled Thompson as one of his picks for “secret superstar.” Converted from defensive end to tight end, Thompson scored a 7.3 run-blocking grade on 173 snaps. If he can work on locating deep passes, Thompson could develop into a nice overall weapon for Jake Locker.
No. 3: Time for Craig Stevens to Earn his Paycheck?
In January 2012, Stevens signed a four-year, $14.4 million contract. For a No. 2 tight end who had 21 career receptions over his first three seasons, that seemed a bit pricy. In 2012, Stevens responded with 23 receptions for 275 yards with one touchdown.
Will the Titans focus on a more run-heavy offense with Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene? If so, Stevens could have a key role in double tight-end sets. Despite his lackluster reception totals, the Titans need him to continue his role as a stout run-blocker, possibly playing some H-Back.
No. 4: Is Jack Doyle a UDFA Who Could Make the 53-Man Roster?
Walker, Thompson and Stevens are basically locks to make the final cuts. With that said, it’s not unheard of for teams to keep four or even five tight ends on their main roster. Barden finished last season on the 53-man roster whereas Webb finished on the practice squad.
Keep an eye on Doyle. An undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky, Doyle was making a strong impression during mini camps. From a Titan Sized article on June 10:
Doyle has made an immediate impression. On June 6, The Tennessean reported that Doyle had caught more than a half-dozen passes, one of which was a touchdown from Jake Locker. At 6-6 and 253 pounds, Doyle appears to have everything necessary for a top-tier candidate on the practice squad—maybe more.
At the very least, a solid training camp should get him a spot on the practice squad. But don’t count him out for the 53-man roster.