Positional Analysis: Titans

A unit-by-unit analysis of the Jaguars week one opponent, the Tennessee Titans.

QUARTERBACK: Starter - Vince Young. Backup - Kerry Collins.

Young must improve on last year's nine TD passes. Look for the Titans to emphasize pre-snap reads, and roll him out often to give him opportunities to run to maximize his athleticism. It could be a slow go, especially early as Young puts into practice a new offensive system. Collins has lost weight and gives Tennessee a steady, veteran understudy just in case.

RUNNING BACK: Starters - RB LenDale White, FB Ahmard Hall. Backup - RB Chris Johnson, RB Chris Henry.

White has a tenuous grip on the starter's job, despite a 1,110-yard season a year ago and a healthier knee. The Titans like Johnson's speed and will give him 50 percent of the carries. Henry would be in trouble where it not for his second-round pick status in '07. At fullback, Hall will get more touches, both as a receiver and occasional carry.

TIGHT END/H-BACK: Starter - Alge Crumpler. Backups - Bo Scaife, Dwayne Blakley, Craig Stevens.

Crumpler comes over from the Falcons and provides a nice upgrade at the top of the rotation. Though technically not a starter, Scaife will see plenty of action in the two-tight end sets the Titans often prefer.

WIDE RECEIVER: Starters - Justin Gage, Justin McCareins. Backups - Brandon Jones, Lavelle Hawkins, Paul Williams.

A muddled group to be certain. Gage led the team lead in receptions a year ago with 55. McCareins is well versed in the offense and will start, while Jones could have the most upside, but his inconsistency is frustrating to coaches. Hawkins has a long way to go but could be solid long-term.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LT Michael Roos, LG Eugene Amano, C Kevin Mawae, RG Jake Scott, RT David Stewart. Backups - C/G Leroy Harris, G/T Daniel Loper, T/G Mike Otto.

This is the deepest and most solid group on the offense. The Titans locked up Roos and Stewart with contract extensions and imported Scott from the rival Colts to replace retired Benji Olson. Amano won the left guard position in the off-season. Loper is a solid backup, as is Harris, who becomes the heir apparent when the veteran Mawae hangs it up.

Starters - LDE Jevon Kearse, LDT Tony Brown, RDT Albert Haynesworth, RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch. Backups - DT/DE Jason Jones, DE Jacob Ford, DE William Hayes, DE/DT Dave Ball.

The right side of this unit will attract all the attention with Pro Bowlers Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch. This group set the tempo last season with 36 of the 40 sacks generated. However, the Titans must replace the combo of Travis LaBoy and Antwan Odom at left end. They believe that some mix of Kearse, Ford and eventually Hayes can make up the 14 sacks that departed via free agency.

LINEBACKERS: Starters - LLB David Thornton, MLB Ryan Fowler, RLB Keith Bulluck. Backups - MLB/OLB Stephen Tulloch, OLB Stanford Keglar, OLB/MLB Colin Allred, OLB Josh Stamer, OLB Ken Amato.

The Titans have speed on the outside with Bulluck and Thornton and a technician in the middle with Fowler. Tulloch has proven himself capable of being a starter and has learned the outside spots to increase his value. The rest are on hand for special teams work, though Keglar, a rookie, could have some eventual upside.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Nick Harper, RCB Cortland Finnegan, SS Chris Hope, FS Michael Griffin, Backups - FS/Nickel Vincent Fuller, CB/Dime Eric King, CB Reynaldo Hill, CB/FS Chris Carr, SS Donnie Nickey.

This unit should only get better with a year of working together. It combines cagey vets like Harper and Hope with young emerging stars in Finnegan and Griffin. Fuller is solid as the nickel, and King the same in the dime package.

Depth at corner is decent, but the Titans can ill afford to lose one of their starting safeties, as they did with Hope last year. In the event of injury, Tennessee would be reluctant to play Fuller at safety full-time because he is undersized, and they don't' want to juggle the nickel package.

SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Rob Bironas, P Craig Hentrich, KOR Chris Carr, KOR return Chris Johnson, PR Chris Carr, PR Lavelle Hawkins.

The Titans' red-zone problems allowed Bironas to enjoy a banner year with 35 of 39 field goals. Hentrich remains solid entering his 15th NFL season, despite back problems that plague him from time to time. The Titans are seeking to upgrade their return game, with Carr and Johnson vying on kickoffs, and Carr the likely winner on punt returns, especially with Hawkins nursing an ankle injury and still getting a feel for the job.

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