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2006 Team Report: Tennessee Titans

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Quarterbacks

Starter: Billy Volek
Backup(s): Vince Young, Matt Mauck, Cody Hodges

Starting QB: The current contract for Volek runs through the 2007 season. The Titans recently declined to extend him, showing that they will be ready for Vince Young to take over in the next season or two. There is a lot of hype surrounding Young taking the starting role. Remember that HC Fisher sat McNair for two years behind Chris Chandler, only giving McNair a series or two a game. As for Volek, he has proven he can put up big numbers with back-to-back 400 yard games and a 5 week stretch with 15 touchdowns in 2004. With a struggling defense, there is an opportunity for that kind of production this season. Kerry Collins has been rumored as a possible free agent acquisition by Tennessee, but so far the Titans have apparently not showed any serious interest.

Backup QB: Young is incredibly athletic, with all the tools to be a franchise QB. He could take a beating in the NFL with his reckless style. Although Young might have trouble adjusting to the pro game, however he has a proven ability to carry the team on his back if needed. Young will most likely spend at least one year developing, if not two, before he becomes the unquestioned leader of the Titans.

Running Backs

Starter: Chris Brown
Backup(s): LenDale White [R], Travis Henry, Jarrett Payton, Damien Nash, Quinton Ganther [r], Lamont Reid
Fullback(s): Troy Fleming

Starting RB: Finishing with 851 rushing yards and five touchdowns, Brown had another inconsistent year in 2005, nagged by injury and the arrival of Travis Henry. In 2004, Brown was unable to shake the injury tag after missing most of his 2003 rookie season and after an injury-filled college career. Injuries drove him from several games until he ultimately missed the last three games of 2004 with turf toe. In his college career, Brown often played through nagging injuries, but would miss some game time. The Titans drafted LenDale White, a runner with huge potential and an injury history as well in this year’s draft. This is Brown’s job to lose, but expect that the competition is wide open with Henry and White in the mix. This competition could easily be last man standing/healthy.

Backup RBs: White is a powerful inside runner, who can push defenders back and move the pile. Neither Chris Brown nor Travis Henry preformed well enough in 2005 to have a lock on the starting job. Although he has first-round ability, White fell out of the first round due to poor recent workouts and a nagging hamstring injury. Expect White to compete for the starting job once he is healthy towards the end of May. After coming to the team to compete with Brown last season, the Titans signed Travis Henry to a new deal after the season in which he ran 88 times for 335 yards. HC Jeff Fisher said he expects Henry to take part in the offseason program starting March 21 and to be healthy for the season.

Fullback: Troy Fleming was little more than a Dump off target on the season after a great outing in week 2 with three receptions for 21 yards and a touchdown. He might catch a pass a game, but that is still a stretch.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Drew Bennett, David Givens
Backups: Courtney Roby, Brandon Jones, Roydell Williams, Tyrone Calico, Bobby Wade, Jonathan Orr [r], Sloan Thomas

Starting WRs: Playing opposite Derrick Mason as the #2 WR in 2004 Bennett really shined with 80 catches for 1247 yards and 11 TDs. Given Bennett's combination of size, speed, and soft hands many were ready for him to take over the #1 role, and produce similar numbers. Between a broken left thumb that was surgically repaired and a knee injury, Bennett missed much of the season, or played at less than full ability as he finished the season with 58 catches for 738 yards and 4 touchdowns. There is some question on the exact pecking order at the WR position this season. David Givens, who holds the Patriots record for postseason touchdown receptions, has signed with the Titans. Givens has wanted to be a #1 wide out, and he'll get that opportunity with the Titans. Givens finished with 59 catches, 738 yards, 2 TDs for the Patriots last season.

Backup WRs: Courtney Roby is a burner who recorded a blazing 4.33 time in the 40, as a rookie last season coming out of Indiana University, but he is a developmental prospect despite starting every game the last three years. He is a bit on the smallish side at 6'0" and 189 pounds. Brandon Jones and Roydell Williams are currently still trying to recover from injuries. Jones is over 6'1" and 210 pounds, and has experience in a big-time college program. Roydell Williams, may ultimately have the most upside of the bunch. Tyrone Calico, who missed the bulk of 2004 with a knee injury after a promising rookie season, struggled with injury again in 2005, and was placed on injured reserve toward the end of the season.

Tight Ends

Starters: Erron Kinney, Ben Troupe
Backups: Bo Scaife, Greg Guenther, Jamie Petrowski

The Titans have always relied on the TE as receiver and the team regularly uses two-TE sets. In 2005, the Titans new look offense was a dream come true for the TE position. Erron Kinney averaged just shy of 10 yards a reception with 55 catches, 543 yards, and 2 touchdowns. After Kinney suffered an injury-plagued 2004 season and missed 7 games, he once again struggled with injury, but continued to play in 2005. Meanwhile, Troupe showed that he is the pass catcher the team thought they drafted. He had a catch in 13 of the 15 games he played, catching 4 or more passes in eight of his outings. Both TEs are over 250 pounds and block well, yet both are skilled pass catchers who can give linebackers fits. With the new look offense that debuted in 2005, the team will carry a minimum of four TEs on the active roster. Last season the Titan’s four TEs combined for 149 receptions, only behind the 1984 Chargers with 163 for the All-Time NFL record. Scaife is only 249 pounds, but is speedy, athletic, and has great hands. He finished with 37 receptions for 273 yards and a pair of touchdowns where four of his games were five or more receptions. Guenther is merely insurance, who would be called upon if one of the three in front of him is injured for any extended period.

Place Kicker

Rob Bironas : After spending several years in various teams’ training camps and in the AFL, Bironas finally landed a starting job in the NFL. He connected on 23 of 29 FGs (79.3%), with five of the six misses coming from beyond 45 yards. The longest miss (58 yards) will be a trivia answer, as it was a rare free kick. He also missed two of his 32 PATs. Bironas’ strong leg paid dividends on kickoffs, where he averaged 64.2 yards and had 11 touchbacks.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Bobby Wade; Adam PacMan Jones; Courtney Roby

After a shaky start, CB Adam PacMan Jones emerged as the return specialist the Titans were hoping for when they drafted him in the first round. He returned 43 kickoffs and his 26.2 yard average ranked 16th in the NFL. WR Courtney Roby serves as the primary backup (22 returns, 22.5 avg.).

Punt Returners: PacMan Jones; Bobby Wade; Courtney Roby

WR Bobby Wade showed excellent potential on punt returns with the Bears, however he fumbled his way out of a job. If he can hold onto the ball, he could emerge as the top PR for the Titans. On punts, PacMan Jones had 29 returns (9.4 avg.) and scored once. His combined numbers made him the 6th ranked fantasy returner. The team is considering easing his load on returns (probably punts) due to his workload on defense. The Titans improved significantly in fantasy scoring, ranking 4th last year after having ranked 28th the year before.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: RT David Stewart, RG Benji Olsen, C Kevin Mawae, LG Zach Piller, LT Michael Roos
Key Backups: C Nick Leckey, G Adam Haayer, T Daniel Loper

Long-term fixture at tackle, Brad Hopkins has retired leaving a hole at the left tackle position. Michael Roos, a 2nd-year player who started all sixteen games as a rookie right tackle will try and fill Hopkins shoes in 2006. Hopkins has manned the left tackle spot for the Titans since the 1993 season but Roos is confident he can successfully make the switch to the left side. He has good quickness and athleticism for a big man. 2nd-year players David Stewart and Daniel Loper will compete for the right tackle job with Stewart being the slight favorite at this point. Free agent acquisition center Kevin Mawae will really help this young group gel together and gives a strong veteran presence to the interior of the line. He is 35-years old this year but will provide leadership to his group. He’ll combine with long-time starting guards Benji Olsen and Zach Piller to give the Titans a strong interior trio that should be able to open holes for the running game. Long-time OL coach Mike Munchak has done a good job over the past decade and there is some potential here is the young tackles can round into form.

Team Defense

The Tennessee Titans, although a team not devoid of talent, remain in the back of the pack defensively in the NFL. They were 22nd in rushing defense and 19th in overall defense. However, they were tied for 8 th in sacks. One area in need of improvement is overall team speed. They have begun to address that issue with the signings of safety Chris Hope and linebacker David Thornton. Hope replaces Tank Williams and his ability to cover vast amounts of space should allow their CBs to take more chances. Two of the team's last three top picks in the NFL draft were taken on cornerbacks, and neither Andre Woolfolk nor Pacman Jones have lived up to expectations, but at least the Jones should have a chance to prove himself this year. Even with the signing of David Thornton, the team is still looking for help at LB. DE Kyle Vanden Bosch was a tremendous addition last year to the team and provided the leadership that was greatly needed to the line and Travis LaBoy, Randy Starks, Albert Haynesworth and Antwan Odom are all young and talented players with potential for much more. Their Defensive Coordinator for the fifth year in a row will be Jim Schwartz.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, DT Albert Haynesworth, DT Randy Starks, DE Travis LaBoy
Backups: DE Antwan Odom, DT/DE Rien Long, DE Bo Schobel

Starting DL: DE Kyle Vanden Bosch came out of obscurity to have a monster season that led to a Pro Bowl appearance. He exploded last year with 65 total tackles and 12.5 sacks. His numbers faded a bit as the year concluded, though, as he saw more double teams. It will be important for the Titans to get improved results from Travis LaBoy to keep less attention on Vanden Bosch. LaBoy has progressed nicely in his two NFL seasons and looks to have solidified his lock on the starting job. After getting 3.5 sacks in limited duty his rookie year, LaBoy improved to 6.5. More importantly, LaBoy began to be more effective against the run as the season wore on. He only had seven total tackles in the first seven games, but had 34 in the last eight games. At DT, Randy Starks is still on the rise. Despite the fact that he is entering his third NFL season, he's still only 22 years old and won't turn 23 until the end of this season. His sacks went down from his rookie year, but he almost doubled the number of tackles. The other DT spot is slated for Albert Haynesworth. He's had some injury problems and never had the work ethic the coaches believe is necessary for him to take it to the next level, but he still had his best season in 2005 with 52 total tackles and three sacks. If Haynesworth can keep his weight in check, it will mean increased performance and fewer injuries.

Backup DL: Antwan Odom has freakish potential, especially as a pass rusher. But Odom has struggled at times. Odom seems to wear down during games and makes too many mental mistakes. The team remains high on him, but if he doesn't improve his intensity and mature, the bust label could apply. DT Rien Long continues to improve his game, and 2005 saw Long playing much stronger against the run. He's already a very good pass rusher how uses his quickness and brains effectively. Long is recovering from offseason arthroscopic knee surgery but should be ready long before opening day. Another end is Bo Schobel. Bo, whose cousins Matt and Aaron are also playing in the NFL, started a couple of games toward the end of 2004 and looked like he had some promise. But he all but disappeared last year and only dressed in eight games.

Linebackers

Starters: WLB Keith Bullock, MLB Peter Sirmon, SLB David Thornton
Backups: LB Robert Reynolds, LB Cody Spencer, LB Robert Tulloch, LB Terna Nande, LB Jared Newberry

Starting LBs: This unit is led by star Keith Bullock. Although he might be closer to the end of his career than the beginning, Bullock remains in his prime and is one of the league's very best. He is averaging more than 100 solo tackles per year over the last four years and is about as consistently great as they come. He also has five sacks in each of the last two seasons. He has excellent speed, a tremendous work ethic and excels in coverage. And he's not even 30 years old yet. The Titans signed David Thornton, who immediately adds speed to the linebacking unit. Thornton's addition could go a long way in making the Titans more effective against the run. It was just three years ago when Thornton had 145 total tackles, although that was playing the weak side and although Bullock has that spot to himself, Thornton remains an improvement over last year's situation. The middle spot is up in the air. It's possible the job goes to Peter Sirmon, but he's feeling a little left out after the hiring of David Thornton and has let his feelings be known to the team. It's possible Thornton plays in the middle, moving Sirmon back to his spot on the strong side. But this option seems unlikely.

Backup LBs: This is an area of concern for Tennessee, as they currently have little to no depth. Brad Kassell went to the Jets. Rocky Boiman went to Dallas. Robert Reynolds is a third year player who can substitute in a pinch but is a liability if ever forced in as a starter. He's tough enough to play the middle but is left wanting in the department of athleticism. Cody Spencer is a valuable special teams player who is recovering from hernia surgery. If healthy, he can contribute in other situations too. Jared Newberry is a second year player who struggled to get on the field last year. Robert Tulloch was drafted in the fourth round and the team believes his speed and tackling skills will enable him with an opportunity to compete for the starting job in the middle. He has great instincts and reads and reacts well to plays. Terna Nande is another rookie, drafted in the fifth round. Nande is undersized and won't play the middle, but he impressed the scouts at the combine with his speed and agility and he hits hard. He should have an immediate impact on special teams.

Defensive Backs

Starters: SS Chris Hope, FS Lamont Thompson, CB Adam PacMan Jones, CB Reynaldo Hill
Backups: CB Andre Woolfolk, S Vincent Fuller, SS Donnie Nickey, CB Rich Gardner, S Marcus Randall

Starting DBs: SS Chris Hope hopes to come in and provide the secondary with much needed speed. Hope is coming off his best year yet in Pittsburgh and he's not even 26 years old yet. He replaced Tank Williams, who never lived up to his potential. Although he's not a big play guy (only four interceptions in four years and no sacks), he does hit hard and plays smart. Lamont Thompson will start opposite Hope and the team hopes Thompson can play a little leaner and faster. He had a career-high 80 total tackles. Hope's signing could mean CBs PacMan Jones and Reynaldo Hill can be more aggressive in going for big plays, since Hope can cover more ground. PacMan Jones was drafted in the first round last year, but his play was generally sloppy. The team hopes a healthy Jones under contract will bring back the high energy and swagger that made him so successful in college. Reynaldo Hill needs to recover from offseason surgery from a groin injury, but is tabbed as the other CB. A 7 th round pick, Hill came on as a starter by midseason and played well, leading the team in interceptions. Hill has good speed but needs to work on his conditioning as he wore down a little near the end of the season.

Backup DBs: Depth could be a big problem for the Titans secondary. Vincent Fuller hurt himself in week two last year and missed the rest of the season, but if he can recover fuller from his foot injury, he will see valuable time in passing situations. He covers a lot of ground with his speed and is a good tackler. 2003 first round pick Andre Woolfolk has been a major disappointment. He has battled injuries (he's played only 29 of 48 NFL games), but even when healthy Woolfolk has not been playing like a first round pick. He remains talented, but if he doesn't turn things around quickly, he could find himself lucky to play in any situation. Rich Gardner was a 3 rd round pick from 2004 but hasn't done enough to find himself in key situations. S Donnie Nickey found himself relegated to the bench most of the year. He's a supporting role player only. Marcus Randall used to be a QB and has impressed the team with his ability to play safety. He should see increased playing time.

Last modified: 2006-09-03 06:53:23



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