The 6 Most Positive Developments of the Tennessee Titans Offseason
After last year's craziness because of the lockout and Chris Johnson's holdout, this offseason seems kind of quiet for the Titans.
Of course, if you actually go back and review everything that's happened so far, you see that that's not true, it's just that all the activity wasn't condensed into two weeks like it was in 2011.
The Titans have seen some problems this offseason: Kenny Britt had a second surgery, there have been some injuries on the offensive line, and Cortland Finnegan departed for St. Louis, but there have also been some positives.
Here are the six most positive developments for the Titans this offseason.
6. Signing Michael Griffin to a Long Term Deal
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I have been openly critical of Michael Griffin in the past, and to a degree, I still am; he's an inconsistent player that gives up too many big plays.
That said, he's certainly way above average, and safeties have been harder and harder to come by in the draft as of late, so getting him locked in for the long term is actually a pretty great move by the Titans.
There's also the fact that the Titans defensive backs are all either young or new to the team. Griffin is the most senior defensive back outside of Jordan Babineaux, who only joined the team last season.
The starting corners will likely be Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner, with Tommie Campbell and Coty Sensabaugh coming in on occasion. McCourty is the most senior of them, and he was only drafted in 2009.
With that young group, Griffin's experience will help just as much as his playmaking abilities.
5. Kendall Wright Immediately Falling into Place
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In the limited time that the team has had together on the field, Kendall Wright has already made his presence known.
Both Locker and Hasselbeck have taken advantage of their new weapon is the limited time they've spent on the field, and Wright has proven to be no slouch. In fact, he injured himself diving for a catch earlier in the offseason.
While injury is never a good thing, the fact that Wright is already diving for catches in a meaningless practice shows the kind of football player he is.
We won't really know how well he'll fit in with the rest of the team until practices in pads and mini-camps are over, but for now, he seems to be learning a lot and fitting in well.
4. Picking Up Kamerion Wimbley
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The Titans had a terrible pass rush in 2011. Part of that was due to the defensive focus on stopping the run, but another part of it was a lack of pass rushers.
The Titans briefly pursued top rated end Mario Williams, but he went to Buffalo. Instead, they ended up with Kamerion Wimbley, who happened to be the No. 2 defensive end from Williams' draft class.
He's been a consistent rusher over his career, so there's no reason to think he won't keep it up with Tennessee. He certainly seemed to be in very good shape on American Ninja Warrior.
Hopefully in 2012, Derrick Morgan will be able to show some of what he flashed as a rookie and Akeem Ayers will take advantage of a full offseason. If that doesn't happen, at least Wimbley ought to improve the numbers.
3. Quarterback Competition
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Lots of teams that know who their starting quarterback will be saying that they will let everyone compete for the job. Just look at the Seahawks.
When the Titans said the same thing, I first thought they were just paying lip service before they handed the keys to Matt Hasselbeck again. However, they followed through by splitting the first team reps right down the middle between Hasselbeck and Jake Locker.
What that tells me is that they legitimately think Locker could step in and actually take the starting job from Hasselbeck. Locker showed flashes of greatness in 2011, but they were just flashes.
If the Titans staff think that Locker may be ready to start now, that speaks well to his development.
It's still a little early to tell whether Locker will overcome his accuracy problems and become a true franchise quarterback, but the splitting of reps at least says something good about his progress.
2. Adding Steve Hutchinson in Free Agency
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The Titans' biggest need this offseason was a new center, and the Titans flirted with several high end free agents, but the pursuit of Peyton Manning seemed to grind that to a halt.
However, they did get some help for a lackluster interior line in Steve Hutchinson. Hutchinson is older, but he's still got plenty of life left in him. Besides, the Titans have had success in the past with older interior linemen (remember Kevin Mawae and Bruce Matthews?), and Hutchinson looked great last year.
With Hutchinson on the squad, the Titans have an instantly upgraded interior line, which is where they struggled last season. The hallmark of an interior lineman's ability is the team's running game, and Hutchinson, if you'll remember, has spent the last several years blocking for Adrian Peterson.
Hutchinson isn't a permanent solution, but he ought to be a big help for run blocking right now.
1. Chris Johnson's Workouts
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In my eyes, the best development for the Titans this offseason is Chris Johnson's offseason workout. Up until now, he has never shown up for team workouts that weren't mandatory, and after last year, we all know what can happen if he plays out of shape.
However, now Johnson is with the team working out and has even added almost 10 lbs of muscle onto his frame.
If CJ plays like CJ2K again, then the Titans are going to have one powerful offensive machine. A combination of Britt, Wright, Cook and Washington at receiver, Johnson at running back, and Hasselbeck or Locker at quarterback will give Tennessee one of the most potent and balanced offenses in the league.
That is, of course, a best case scenario. Either way, Johnson looks like he should at least be much improved from last season, and any improvement is a good thing.