When the Tennessee Titans prepared to face the Indianapolis Colts in last year’s regular season finale, they were a shell of themselves. And I’m not talking about their 2-13 record.
I mean that literally.
Eighteen players missed that game due to injury, twelve of which started or contributed heavy minutes. That’s half of your starting lineup.
In all, sixteen Titans finished the season on injured reserve. It seems that injuries made a bigger impact than any single player or coach last season.
With the offseason moves that Tennessee made since then, that regular season finale seem like years ago. The Titans have a host of fresh new faces in town, and the city of Nashville has a fresh new optimism for their beloved team.
OTA’s resume tomorrow for Tennessee, and will run through the 11th. And while the new faces have impressed so far, a familiar one has once again stolen the show.
The injury bug is picking up where it left off last December, as several contributors to-be have already been slowed by it.
Offseason linebacker acquisitions Brian Arakpo and Jonathan Massaquoi, two that will play heavy minutes this fall, have yet to join the team on the field as they recover from shoulder injuries. At the age of 27, often-injured veteran lb Colin McCarthy decided to retire last week. He also contributed heavily when healthy.
Nov 9, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) defended Tennessee Titans cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson (25) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee’s secondary has fared no better. Cb Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Safety Michael Griffin were already nursing injuries, and have yet to see the field this offseason. Cb Brandon Harris tore his acl last week, and will be lost for the season. He was positioning himself to be the team’s primary back-up.
A crushing loss given the Titans’ lack of depth there. No cb’s were drafted this year. Defensive lineman Sammie Hill has also missed time already with a knee sprain. He too, will contribute heavily this fall.
On the offensive side of the ball, the one player not named Marcus Mariota that Titans fans want to see most is rookie wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. But they will have to wait as he continues to be sidelined by a gimpy hamstring, one that he originally injured during rookie camp.
It’s not so much the number of Titans players dinged-up so far. Every team has injuries. It’s the role of the player that’s alarming.
Most of the injuries are on defense, where Tennessee is still trying to learn a completely new scheme. With the preseason just eight weeks away, the projected starters need as much time on the field together as they can get.
With the exception of Harris, everyone…including DGB…is projected to be ready for the start of training camp next month. Prior to that, the Titans conclude OTA’s this week, and a final mandatory camp from June 18th-21st.
If Tennessee can withstand any more misfortune in that time span, then they should go into training camp with their starting lineups healthy and in tact.
So Titans fans can hopefully see a new star emerge.