5 Tennessee Titans Who Cannot Get Hurt in 2012
Every team has a certain number of players it can ill afford to lose. Like a Jenga tower, when enough pieces are pulled, everything will come tumbling down.
Some teams are more balanced and have guys ready to step up when a starter succumbs to injury, while others aren't lucky enough to have a roster loaded with talent.
The Titans don't appear to be built in the manner of yesteryear's Indianapolis Colts, but there are still only a select few players on the team that they can afford to lose for a long stretch of the season.
Nate Washington, Wide Receiver
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Now that it's been proved that Kenny Britt cannot be counted to stay healthy or stay out of trouble, Nate Washington has become a much more important piece of the puzzle.
Washington had a career year in 2011, posting his career highs in receptions (74), yards (1,023) and touchdowns (7).
Britt will likely face suspension for his eighth run-in with the law since being drafted in 2009, taking away the scary three receiver set envisioned when first-round pick Kendall Wright was selected in the draft.
Damian Williams was a solid fill-in for Britt last season, but he was hardly exceptional, and no one can be sure of what Wright will bring to the table.
With all these question marks at the position the Titans need Washington to repeat his production from last season.
Jason McCourty, Cornerback
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The departure of Cortland Finnegan has left the Titans extremely lacking in the experience department at corner.
Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner are the only experienced members of the positional group, but as Verner has always been a solid player McCourty has improved every year since being drafted.
McCourty has since surpassed Verner on the team's depth chart and become one of the NFL's top corners while receiving little recognition.
With the Titans' deplorable pass rush, any further decline to pass coverage would become a huge issue throughout the upcoming season.
Kamerion Wimbley, Defensive End
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Speaking of the Titans' 31st-ranked pass rush, there is only one definite change to the team's starting defensive line this season and that is Kamerion Wimbley.
The Titans are banking on an offseason focus on pass-rushing technique and the addition of Wimbley to move the team into a more respectable class of pass-rushing defenses.
The Titans are very young across the board on defense, so development of player skills is a reasonable factor in the team's improvement.
However, the addition of Wimbley is a sure-fire improvement of the failed experiment that moved Jason Jones to defensive end.
With an average of more than seven sacks per season, Wimbley is a guy the Titans need on the field to take another step forward from the progress made last season.
Chris Johnson, Running Back
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Even though Chris Johnson was far from his usual self in 2011, he was still the primary focus of opposing defenses week in an week out.
To believe that his presence on the field has no affect on the Titans' passing game is inane.
If all the reports of a renewed Chris Johnson are true, the NFL will be forced to pick its poison when facing the Titans more pass-centric offense.
Despite all the calls for backup Javon Ringer to receive more carries, he was even worse. Jamie Harper looked good during the 2011 preseason but ultimately vanished over the course of the regular season.
If Chris Johnson goes down, one of the Titans' biggest flaws, which I believe has been a serious oversight for some time now, will become the Titans' undoing in 2012.
Michael Roos, Left Tackle
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The Titans will be facing some serious pass-rushing forces in 2012: Dwight Freeney (twice), Mario Williams, Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Guess why none of you are truly worried about these guys laying out our still undecided starting quarterback—Michael Roos.
It's truly a privilege to have a left tackle as great at pass-blocking and as reliable as Roos for such a long time.
At the conclusion of the 2011 campaign, Roos’ 112-game active starting streak ranked second in the NFL among all offensive tackles.
That means since being drafted in 2005, Roos has been a fixture of the Titans offense. In the last four seasons the Titans have finished no worse than sixth in sacks allowed and were ranked second or better in three of those season.
The team has also allowed an average of 24 sacks per season since Roos was drafted, compared to an average of 30 in the three season prior to his arrival.
Roos is yet to miss a game in his career, and I don't think the Titans want to find out what happens if he ever does.