Dec 9 2012, Indianapolis, USA;Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) is sacked by Indianapolis Colts nose tackle Antonio Johnson (99) and linebacker Robert Mathis (98) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeated Tennessee 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
There’s an ongoing transformation that’s occurring with the Tennessee Titans defensive line. After the defense surrendered a franchise-worst 471 points during the 2012-13 NFL season, defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and recently-hired assistant Gregg Williams have added size to a rotation of defensive linemen that will use more of an attacking style than in recent seasons.
It all starts with winning the battles at the line of scrimmage. Although three-fourths of the starters return from last season, questions remain with depth. One of the main concerns involves Antonio Johnson and which players will serve as the No. 4 and possibly No. 5 defensive tackles behind Jurrell Casey, Mike Martin and Sammie Lee Hill.
Let’s take a quick look at some defensive tackles who have the best chance of making the Week 1 roster:
Sammie Lee Hill
Consider the first three players as locks to make this team. That leaves room for at least one, maybe two more DTs on the 53-man roster. Don’t forget about Karl Klug, who’s making the switch to defensive end. Klug could play the role that Jason Jones played when he was the versatile defensive lineman who provided depth at DT and DE.
Where does Johnson fit into this equation? The Titans signed Johnson shortly after the conclusion of the 2013 NFL Draft. At 330 pounds (The Tennessean), Johnson adds more size to the unit. Is it quality depth? According to Evan Silva of Rotoworld:
It’s worth pointing out that those struggles came when the Colts switched to a 3-4 defense. The Titans run a 4-3 defense.
When the Titans first signed Johnson, he appeared like nothing more than a body for training camp. Now that Klug has moved to defensive end, the 28-year-old Johnson has a decent chance of making the team. He’ll still need to hold off youngsters such as Clayton, Harris and Charles.
What do our readers believe? Will Johnson make the 2013-14 Tennessee Titans Week 1 roster? Has management overvalued size and underemphasized talent?