When you look on paper, the inside linebacker position seems like a noticeable weakness for the Tennessee Titans. The group is headlined by Azeez Al-Shaair, who was a free agent signing in March, and Monty Rice is as proven and relevant as anyone else among them.
It sounds bad, but when you take a step back and think, the Titans linebacker room is just fine for what they need. They have had an elite run defense for years and sustained it in 2022 despite constant injuries, and with Rice and Dylan Cole being the starters for several games, especially at the end.
The position is one that has generally proven to be the most replaceable on defense, and the Titans have shown that they too can succeed without their guys being anything above adequate level.
They have that, and one of the reasons why is because they have a player who everyone has stopped talking about. It is understandable why, but if all goes right from here on out, he could turn into a nice contributor for the Titans.
The Tennessee Titans have an under-the-radar talent in Chance Campbell
IncasIn case any of you are wondering who Campbell is, he was a sixth-round pick for the Titans in 2022 out of Ole Miss, where he transferred from Maryland. That itself is not going to excite much of anyone, but a more extensive refresh on him might help that.
When he transferred to Ole Miss, he had not done much in his college career, but had somewhat of a breakout season with the Rebels and eventually proved that he was worth a draft pick. He recorded career highs in every major statistical category and really gave us a glimpse of the type of player he can be.
Campbell showed potential as a sideline-to-sideline player, as most of the big plays he made were outside of the tackle box. But what really stood out while watching was his feel for the game, as he would always read the plays from the very beginning, be patient if he had to, then react when it was time to do so.
His showing that consistency at the highest level of college play is just that much more encouraging for what he could become in the NFL, and he continued to build on it once he arrived on the scene last year.
Campbell earned a spot on the Tennessee Titans' initial 53-man roster, and they must have been decently hard to come by because only four middle linebackers made it at the time. Unfortunately, we never got to see him take the field because of a knee injury that put him on IR in the few days leading up to their season opener.
It was a massive disappointment for the then 22-year-old rookie, and the Titans could have really used him as depth with how ravaged they were at the position. The good news is that he should return this season and be able to pick up right where he left off.
The latest on Campbell is that he is back on the field, which gives him plenty of time to knock off the rust and get back up to speed in time for the start of training camp. Assuming that there has been no seismic regression in terms of his mentality, athletic condition, and overall play, we should be getting at least the same player we had last year.
Many players in his situation could really be in trouble with their development halted due to injury, but as mentioned, middle linebacker is one of the more replaceable positions on defense, and really in football. The development he needs is nowhere near as much as that of most others, especially not for the roster spots he is immediately fighting for.
That is not to say that Campbell is a finished product -- his pass coverage is nothing special and has to improve if he wants to be a true starter. But once again, it is not like he is expected to be that right now, and the rest of his game makes him a roster-caliber player with the opportunity to improve his weaknesses with gradual experience.
Even then, it is not like he is just assumed to be on the roster this year. The Titans added more bodies to their middle linebacker room this offseason, with Luke Gifford and Ben Niemann in play to take snaps and if nothing else, create some more competition for the last one or two roster spots at the position.
Monty Rice is looking to build off of a strong finish to last year, and Mike Vrabel has shown that he loves Jack Gibbens and wants him to get every opportunity possible to make an impact on the team.
Campbell is extremely unproven and will have to battle back and compete in order to earn a roster spot like last year. But he has more potential than a lot of people have thought about and is at least another reason why the Titans really do not have to worry about their middle linebackers this year.