When Derrick Morgan went on Injured Reserve following the Tennessee Titans November, 19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Nissan Stadium, the Titans defense was ranked statistically in the top half of all NFL defenses. Without Morgan, those numbers dipped and the Titans ended the season without winning another contest.
A healthy Morgan returns in 2016 and he, along with his defensive mates remember the feeling of having a defense that played well and garnered some talk as an upper echelon defense early in that campaign. Those players, and their new addition teammates believe they are the defense that performed so well in the first half last season as opposed to the unit that struggled down the stretch.
Morgan in particular had some strong comments on Saturday following the teams first training camp practice about day one and where he feels this defense can, and should be this season.
"It was overall a good day, (first day of camp) the team was pretty efficient and we picked up where we left off in mini-camp," said Morgan. "We took a step in the right direction today, we've just got to keep stacking them and once we get in the grind it becomes very important to pay attention to detail and stay sharp."
"The expectations are relly high (this season) because we know what we're capable of and we've seen the potential," added Morgan. "We got a glimpse of our greatness last year and we need to build on top of that. We've got the guys in this locker room to be a number one defense."
Being a number one defense in the NFL might seem like a lofty expectation for a team who has won just five combined games the last two season,
"That's our goal," Morgan said.
As for the new additions defensively and the draft selections, Morgan shared his thoughts on how those new players have migrated into the unit.
"I wouldn't say one guy has stood out more than any other, but I will say that the DB's (defensive backs) we brought in have been very competitive and those guys have been making plays all over the field," concluded Morgan. "You've got to appreciate that as an edge rusher because we work hand-in-hand with them, so I think we definitely got better in the off season,"
Morgan also feels the commitment from ownership to this team with the improvements that have taken place inside St. Thomas Sports Park, and now is the time for the players to respond.
"Man, it's amazing," said Morgan. "It's really nice. I've been here since 2010 and there haven't really been a lot of changes so to see a complete gut and remodel, I'm at the opposite end of the locker room (from last season) right now, so it's taking some getting used to but I love what they did, I love that they are actually showing dedication and investment in the team."
"It's been big, I think so," said Morgan. "Whenever the team shows they're willing to mak an investment we appreciate that as players. It definitely doesn't go unnoticed and now it's time to play that back."