Conklin, Jones Need to Step in Immediately
With the news of Byron Bell’s season ending ankle injury, the Titans line situation just became a little more complicated. Bell was a jack of all trade for the Titans, starting multiple games at both tackle positions and at left guard in 2015.
“The loss is greater than you think because he can play inside and outside and on both sides,” Head Coach Mike Mularkey said.
In addition to his versatility, Bell was slotted to be a veteran anchor on a line filled with young players such as Taylor Lewan, Jeremy Poutassi, and Jack Conklin.
Tennessee signed free agent Ben Jones in the off-season from Houston, who may be guy to fill in Bell’s shoes as a leader. Jones is enerting his fifth season, and has already been part of two playoff runs with the Texans.
An Alabama native, Jones played for Georgia in college and battled against the toughest defenses in the SEC. GM Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey may have eyed Jones’ no-nonsense personality, which he has already shown in press conferences, as they build a tough, run heavy football team.
On the right side of the line is first round pick Jack Conklin. The Titans plan to start Conklin at right tackle, which will be a new position for the rookie, who played his entire college career at left tackle.
Conklin may need some time to adjust to the right side and the speed of the NFL, but with a player as talented as Conklin, the transition may be smoother than most.
Furthermore, the left side may be the most in question. Taylor Lewan and Jeremy Poutassi have both shown flashes but both needs to step up their consistency. Lewan will have the challenge to go against each team best edge rusher, and we will see if he can step up.
Having the massive Bell to fill in for left tackle, left guard, or even on the right side of the line would have been very useful to combat any struggles or injuries.
The Titans will need their lineman to stay healthy and play well as a unit to contend in the competitive AFC South.