Scouting Report: Titans

The Tennessee Titans started last season 2-7, competing with the Houston Texans for dibs on the AFC South cellar. The Titans then finished 6-1 and would have made the playoffs with a win in the season finale. If Tennessee can carry that momentum into the 2007 season, and if Vince Young can continue to amaze in crunch time, the Titans will jockey with the Chargers for positioning atop the AFC.

Vince Young is everything Michael Vick wishes he could be. Young is a charismatic leader who uses his rare athleticism not only to run with the ball, but to buy time in the pocket and allow plays to develop downfield. Although his accuracy will always be an issue, he makes enough plays with his arm to keep defenses honest and the chains moving.

One thing that could hinder Young's development is an inexperienced receiving corps. Youthful veterans Brandon Jones, Roydell Williams, Courtney Roby and Justin Gage have all shown flashes, but none has proven capable of being a go-to target. Things are a little steadier at tight end with Ben Troupe and Bo Scaife, although those two will never be confused with Antonio Gates and Alge Crumpler.

The Tennessee Titans are hoping their committee of young running backs can take some pressure off the passing game. Former 1,000-yard rusher Chris Brown will be given first crack at the starting job. The team's last two second-round picks, LenDale White and Chris Henry, will compete for time and provide valuable carries off the bench.

The rushing game took a hit with the offseason loss of Travis Henry, but will be buoyed by the continued development of the offensive line. With former Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae solidifying the interior and Michael Roos excelling at the all-important left tackle position, the blocking upfront is one of Tennessee's strengths.

The Titans' defense ranked last in the league in 2006, but has the talent to get back to the middle of the pack in '07. The über-active front seven is anchored by defensive tackles Albert Haynesworth and Randy Starks, as well as outside linebackers Keith Bullock and David Thornton. Throw in Pro Bowler Kyle Vanden Bosch at one end and 2004 second-round picks Travis LaBoy and Antwan Odom at the other, and this group has enormous potential.

The secondary gave up too many big plays last season and lost its best player when Pacman Jones was suspended following a litany of legal snafus. However, that unit still has a nice balance of proven veterans (Chris Hope, Nick Harper, Kelly Herndon) and potential-laden youngsters (first-round picks Michael Griffin ['07] and Andre Woolfolk [‘03]).

So, can Tennessee rise into the AFC's upper crust and challenge the Chargers for conference supremacy? The Titans do have some tools the Chargers lack, such as a proven head coach (Jeff Fisher), a clutch kicker (Rob Bironas) and a legitimate homefield advantage.

However, that will not be enough for the boost the Titans into the Chargers' class. Tennessee lacks talent at the skill positions and depth across the board. So, although Vince Young is capable of taking over any game, he will need some more help before he can take over the top-heavy AFC.

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