Tennessee Titans: Happy returns in 2016
By P. L. Colter
The Tennessee Titans’ disappointing 3-13 campaign last season can be contributed to a number of factors, and injuries to key players is toward the top of the list.
Last year the Titans placed a total of eight players on injured reserve at some point during the season. Six were either starters, or veteran players that were counted on to be heavy contributors.
In addition, three more starters on offense missed the season finale due to injury.
A devastating development for a young team in transition that is still trying to learn a new scheme on offense and defense.
With the new season just over three weeks away, the Titans are happy to have their key players return for the start of training camp.
Marcus Mariota – QB
Marcus Mariota’s rookie season was cut short after cumulative hits in the pocket took its toll. After a pummelling from the Miami Dolphins’ defense caused him to miss two games in late October / early November, the rookie missed the final two games of the season after suffering another injury at the hands of the Patriots’ relentless pass rush.
The second year qb and face of the franchise is now fully recovered and ready to lead the Titans to bigger and better things in 2016.
Jason McCourty – CB
Tennessee’s top cornerback had a rough 2015. Hobbled for the start of the season, McCourty ultimately missed the last nine games of the year after being placed on injured reserve, and his backups’ poor play last season makes his return even more important for the Titans. Jason McCourty will be counted on this season to be the vocal and on-field leader for a secondary that was the defense’s Achilles Heel last season. An uptick in production from that unit could propel the Titans’ defense, that finished 12th overall last year, into an elite top five defense in 2016.
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Kendall Wright – WR
Tennessee’s top wide receiver also had a rough 2015, missing six games due to injury (including the season finale). Adding insult to injury, a clearly hobbled Wright endured his worst season as a pro in the ten games that he did suit up for. Fully healthy now, Wright looks to prove that he is worth his 2012 first round draft pick status. And he better, this is the last year of his rookie deal…and the Titans desperately need him to step up.
Justin Hunter – WR
After teasing the Titans with yet another solid training camp, Justin Hunter was counted on to be a key player in the wide receiver rotation last year. And once again, he failed to live up to expectations. Injuries played a large part this time, though, as Hunter was placed on injured reserve for the last seven games of the season after suffering a serious spleen injury. Also fully healthy now, Hunter looks to revive a career that is now on the brink. This will be his last chance in Tennessee, and the team fully expects Hunter to play like it this season.
Derrick Morgan – LB
Outside linebacker Derrick Morgan was having a great start to the 2015 season, registering 4.5 sacks in the early onset. But the injury bug bit him as well, and he was placed on injured reserve while missing the last six games of the season. Now fully recovered, the Titans look for Morgan to help the Titans’ defense improve on their 39 sacks…which was good for 12th in the league in last season.
Brian Schwenke – C
Schwenke, Tennessee’s veteran starting center last year, was placed on injured reserve and missed the last 11 games of the 2015 season. His injury paved the way for the Titans’ new free agent center, Ben Jones, who is slated to be the starter this season. Having Schwenke back healthy and raring to go for camp is still an encouraging development for Tennessee, as they are in desperate need of quality depth on the offensive line. Something they were sorely lacking last season.
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Dexter McCluster – RB
Tennessee’s diminutive scat-back was actually pound for pound the best option for them out of the backfield last season. The 5’8, 170 pound back led all Titans running backs in yards per carry (4.5), while averaging just under 9 yards per reception. With power backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry now on the roster, McCluster will no longer be counted on to do the heavy lifting (which could have played a part in his injury woes). He will, however, be heavily counted on to bring the exotic element to the offense. And if Tennessee needs him for a carry or two, then McCluster has proven that he can also get it done between the tackles.