Is Tennessee Titans offensive line ‘trending down’ for start of season?
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com believes the Tennessee Titans’ offensive line is “trending down” at the start of training camp.
After the impending suspension of Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan was announced, one of the biggest concerns the team now has is along its offensive line.
That wasn’t the case before training camp. In fact, the Titans’ O-line was seen as one of its biggest strengths after the team added free agent left guard Rodger Saffold, and third-round pick Nate Davis at right guard.
Along with the suspension of Lewan, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal believes the questions surrounding right tackle Jack Conklin has the Titans’ offensive line “trending down” in 2019.
"Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan is expected to miss the first four games of the season after apparently failing a drug test for a banned substance. Right tackle Jack Conklin, who was not able to practice much this offseason, is trying to prove he’s all the way back from the ACL surgery that has changed the shape of his career. The Titans’ offensive line — starting with their tackles — was supposed to be the identity of this franchise. But the group performed at a mediocre level overall last year, and Lewan’s absence is only going to make the start of this season tougher."
Losing Lewan was certainly a huge blow for the first four games. The Michigan product is one of the best left tackles in the sport, and no team can simply replace such a talented player at an important position like that.
In his place, offensive tackle Dennis Kelly will get the nod to start the season. Kelly ranked as the No. 18 tackle in the NFL last season, per Pro Football Focus, but has played limited snaps there since joining the Titans. In that small sample size, Kelly hasn’t been very effective on the left side.
A battle at right tackle was supposed to shake out during camp between Kelly and Conklin, however Lewan’s suspension ended that before it got off the ground. Instead, Conklin will now win the job by default, with the chance that Kelly takes it from him at some point this season.
No matter what happens between Davis and fellow right guard Kevin Pamphile in their battle for the starting job at training camp, the Titans are still set to be solid up the middle. The guard position was a major headache for the team in 2018, so things should be improved there.
The question is: can the Titans overcome Lewan’s absence and still protect quarterback Marcus Mariota sufficiently enough to run their offense?
We won’t really know the answer until the Tennessee Titans take the field for their first regular season game on the road against the Cleveland Browns on September 8th.