With rookie camp already under way and OTA’s and training camp upon us there are many roster decisions to be made before the upcoming NFL season. The Tennessee Titans in particular are going to have some very interesting battles in camp and the coaches love the fact that there will be more competition at certain positions. Here’s a look at a few:
Quarterback: Jake Locker vs. Matt Hasselbeck
Not only is this the most important position battle, but this decision could potentially make or break the Titans upcoming season. Everyone knows that Locker is the future at QB, and if he isn’t the starter week one he will be sooner rather than later. You know what you are getting with Hasselbeck: vet, poise, solidarity; but Locker brings more of a big play capability to this team, with a bigger arm and good legs.
Decision: The future is now in Nashville and if Locker isn’t the starter it would be almost shocking and somewhat concerning, because from what has been reported and from what Locker has shown on the field, it appears the Locker era is ready to begin.
Center/Guard: Eugene Amano vs. Kevin Matthews vs. Vernando Velasco vs. Leroy Harris
The interior line didn’t play up to Coach Munchak’s or anyone in the Titans organizations standards last year. That’s why two positions on the O-line are wide open. At center the competition will be between Amano, Matthews, and Velasco. After hearing of Amano’s injuries, maybe there is a viable reason why he was so terrible, and at times looked extremely “soft” on the field. At guard Jake Scott and his beard are gone, but he has been replaced by Steve Hutchinson, so no worries there. At the opposite guard position, Leroy Harris’s play was questioned and rightfully so. Look for competition from the same players listed earlier.
Decision: Almost impossible to predict now but I see Velasco making a strong push, especially with the team looking to go younger across the board.
4th Wide-Out: Damian Williams vs. Lavelle Hawkins vs. Marc Mariani
This might seem a little silly to talk about, but this is a legit battle that might be the most interesting to watch unfold. The top three guys are pretty set with Britt, Washington, and Wright, but after that it is wide open. With the re-signing of Lavelle Hawkins, the emergence of Damian Williams, who don’t forget was the no.2 wide-out for most of last season, and return specialist Marc Mariani, a tough decision is going to have to be made by the front office. They either keep six receivers or have to cut one that has been a contributor in the past.
Decision: If they don’t keep six receivers, and I hate to say this, I believe that they will be forced to cut Marc Mariani because of his lack of contribution to the actual receiving core. Yes, he has been a pro bowl returner, but his spot can be replaced and unless he blows the coaches out of the water in camp, his time might be done in Tennessee.
Defensive Tackle: Youth vs. Vets
Jurrell Casey proved he is a starter in this league and his spot is cemented. Beside him Smith disappointed, Marks was injured, and Klug surprised. Klug is better suited as a situational pass-rushing DT who will be in the rotation. Who will start? Here comes Mike Martin. The massive Michigan man was drafted to push the vets in camp. Unfortunately for them, he will most likely surpass them.
Decision: Mike Martin. Similar to last year, the Titans nab a starting DT in the 3rd round of the NFL draft.
Weak-Side Outside Linebacker: Zach Brown vs. Will Weatherspoon
Brown was drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL draft and coach Jerry Gray is already talking about the plays he can make for them on defense with his speed and freakish athletic ability for the position. Unless he just stinks it up in camp and preseason. I see him taking the Spoons spot.
Decision: Zach Brown
*other notable battles: secondary depth
The front office has made it clear through the draft and the offseason that youth, play-making ability, and speed are key moving forward. Lets hope that competition in camp is because of the depth at the position, not the lack of ability at the position.
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