Tennessee Titans: 5 Training Camp Battles to Watch
Everyone knows that the big training camp battle for the Titans is going to be between Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback spot, but there are a number of other important battles as well.
Hasselbeck-Locker is going to get all the media coverage, but since Locker is obviously going to take over eventually, some of these other positional contests could end up being even more important.
Here are five to keep an eye on when you aren't checking in on Hasselbeck and Locker.
1. Eugene Amano vs. Kevin Matthews
It's no secret that the Titans have had some trouble with interior line play since Kevin Mawae. Eugene Amano is still the starter, but since he's currently sidelined with an injury, the Titans have had to replace him in practice.
Recently, the player that's been getting the first team reps that would normally go to Amano has been none other than Kevin Matthews, Bruce Matthews' son.
Now if he's been doing a pretty good job and Amano continues to struggle, especially since he's sustained yet another knee injury, he may end up stealing Amano's job.
He is, after all, the son of a Hall of Fame interior lineman, brother of top 2013 left tackle prospect Jake Matthews and cousin to perennial Pro Bowler Clay Matthews III. That's a strong set of bloodlines.
2. Zach Brown vs. Will Witherspoon
I don't know how much of a battle this will be—Zach Brown was the second player the Titans took in the draft, and they picked him over Peter Konz, Vinny Curry and Devon Still. They obviously like him.
That said, Will Witherspoon is not going to let the position just fall into Brown's hands. Witherspoon is a veteran player, and he's going to do everything he can in training camp to keep his starting spot.
Hopefully, the competition will bring out the best in both of them, but I see this one going Brown's way.
3. Kendall Wright vs. Nate Washington
Kendall Wright was drafted higher than any receiver on Tennessee's roster. Kenny Britt was a first-rounder, but he was selected at the 29th spot, while Wright was taken 20th.
However, Kenny Britt has looked fantastic every time he's been on the field, and is, without a doubt, Tennessee's No. 1 option. If he can just stay healthy, he should be one of the division's top receivers.
The real battle is going to be for the second spot between Kendall Wright and Nate Washington. Washington had a breakout season with over 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He certainly made a case for seeing a lot more of the field.
Wright, on the other hand, is a deep threat receiver who caught all kinds of long passes from Robert Griffin III at Baylor last season, and Jake Locker certainly likes to pass deep.
Britt will be out front, that you can be sure of. However, the other receiver lining up across from him is up for grabs.
4. Sen'Derrick Marks vs. Mike Martin
Jurrell Casey had a fantastic rookie season and looks like the long term answer at the defensive tackle position. Next to him, Karl Klug looks like a pass-rushing specialist, which leaves the Titans needing one more player at the position to serve as the every-down guy.
So will that be Sen'Derrick Marks or Mike Martin?
Sen'Derrick Marks has the advantage of having played in the NFL for several years already; with as high as the bust rate is for defensive tackles, that's something. Mike Martin has the advantage of being a highly drafted rookie, taken in the same round as Casey was the year before.
Martin is also freakishly strong, which will help his case, and Marks has been a disappointment so far. Marks was drafted higher, though, and is a veteran, so he may win the day.
I like Martin, and I expect him to be the starter across from Casey when all is said and done.
5. Alterraun Verner vs. Tommie Campbell
Before a few weeks ago, I would have told you that the starting corners for the Titans are set: Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner.
However, recently, things have changed. As fellow Titans columnist Marlon Malony pointed out in this article, Tommie Campbell is starting to get some attention.
The Titans drafted Campbell in the seventh round of 2011 for his athleticism, and he has already shown a lot on special teams. Now they're saying he's improved a lot on his technique as well in recent practices.
He played last year without an offseason and did all right, so now with an offseason to spend preparing, Campbell could see a big boost in his play, and that boost might be enough for him to steal some playing time from Verner.
After all, Cortland Finnegan was a seventh-round pick way back when, and he ended up a multiple Pro Bowler. Maybe history will repeat itself.