QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Vince Young. Backup -- Kerry Collins.
Young been touted as the league's most exciting player by some analysts. In his second year, teams will key on stopping him from running and force him to play better in the pocket. His accuracy is better so far, but not by a lot and he's throwing to unproven weapons. Collins is a good practice player and mentor for Young. But if Young goes down, the Titans have to run a different offense for the immobile backup who does well only if given a lot of time.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- RB LenDale White, FB Ahmard Hall. Backups -- RB Chris Brown, RB Chris Henry.
Will the Titans waste the efforts of a very good offensive line by not having a proven feature back, or will the line help turn White, Brown or Henry into a capable replacement for Travis Henry, the back that helped forge a bond on offense last season? The Titans were sure White could be a productive player when they grabbed him in the second round a year ago. He showed better commitment and toughness in the preseason, but still missed some time with an injury. Brown is fit and fast, but the team's given up on him once before. Henry doesn't appear ready to carry the ball in regular-season games. He has good speed, but doesn't read holes especially well yet.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Ben Troupe. Backups -- Bo Scaife, Ben Hartsock, FB-TE Casey Cramer.
Troupe's slide continues. He wasn't the lead guy even before a foot injury cost him much of the preseason. They'd love to get the ball in his hands, but cannot count on him to be in the right spots. Scaife is completely reliable, but can he hold up for an entire season? Hartsock is slow and will block more, run fewer routes. Cramer is a valuable swing guy who can do the work of a tight end or a fullback.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Eric Moulds, Roydell Williams. Backups -- Justin Gage, Chris Davis, Biren Ealy, Paul Williams, David Givens.
Moulds is a big, physical possession type and can be an asset for Young even if he doesn't get much separation. Roydell Williams comes out of camp as the best of the three receivers from the 2005 draft, with potential to hit some home runs but questions about his ability to be consistent. Davis is the best of the bunch in the slot already. Gage made a late charge that's likely to have earned him a spot while Roby has been sinking. Ealy is a quick learner the Titans might not be able to slip on to their practice squad. Givens will be PUP and might be able to return from a major knee injury around midseason.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Jacob Bell, LG Michael Roos, C Kevin Mawae, RG Benji Olson, RT David Stewart. Backups -- C-G Eugene Amano, C-G Leroy Harris, T-G Daniel Loper.
Unquestionably the starting line ranks as the best unit on the team. The Titans offensive line still opens holes for the running game despite facing eight and nine man fronts. Depth is the lone question mark, with Wand the top option outside and either Amano or highly rated rookie Harris the top alternative inside. Mawae is a veteran tone setter in the middle, while two kid tackles haven't peaked yet: Roos is a technician on one side and Stewart is a mauler on the other. Bell needs to get stronger and Olson may not be able to make it through the season with a bad back.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LE Antwan Odom, LT Tony Brown, RT Albert Haynesworth, RE Kyle Vanden Bosch. Backups -- DE Travis LaBoy, DT Corey Simon, DT Randy Starks, DE Sean Conover, DT Jesse Mahelona.
Vanden Bosch played just as well in 2006, when he had 6.5 sacks, as he did in 2005, when he had 12.5. The trouble was he didn't get much help, and opponents could take extreme measures to slow him down. Haynesworth is playing the best football of his career and if the season were to end today, he's garner some defensive player of the year votes. Simon was brought in to upgrade the rotation and the Titans are hopeful he can be effective on run downs.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- LLB David Thornton, MLB Ryan Fowler, RLB Keith Bulluck. Backups -- MLB Stephen Tulloch, OLB LeVar Woods, OLB Gilbert Gardner, OLB Ken Amato
Bullock is playing at a Pro Bowl level as he leads all linebackers with four interceptions. Thornton and Fowler are both healthy, and they make up a very solid unit.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Nick Harper, RCB Cortland Finnegan, FS Calvin Lowry, SS Chris Hope. Backups -- CB Michael Griffin, CB Kelly Herndon, S-CB Vincent Fuller, CB Reynaldo Hill, S Donnie Nickey, CB Eric King.
Nick Harper and Cortland Finnegan have done a more than admirable job in filling in for the suspended PacMan Jones. Finnegan and Harper have combined for three interceptions already this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Rob Bironas, P Craig Hentrich, LS Ken Amato, KOR Michael Griffin, PR Chris Davis.
Hentrich has occasional back problems, but remains a clutch, versatile punter and holder. Bironas has a big leg and a new comfort level after a 60-yard game winner against the Colts last season. Griffin and Davis are very speedy rookies who have become solid return men.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular
syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and
Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association,
and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or
For more, go to: JagNation.com
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