Tennessee Titans: 5 Players Who Have Most to Gain in Training Camp
Training camp has officially started for the Tennessee Titans, which means it's time for players to really start digging in deep in preparation for the regular season.
Now is the time for players buried deep in the depth chart to prove their worth and get an important role on this team.
As much criticism as the length of the preseason gets, these preseason games will be valuable for these players looking climb their way up the depth chart.
The truth is, every player has something to gain throughout this training camp, but these five players have the most to gain if they have strong showings during these next couple of weeks.
Marc Mariani, WR
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Suddenly, the wide receiver position is a crowded one for the Titans after the drafting of Kendall Wright, who figures to be a starter.
There's no denying Marc Mariani's value as a kick returner and as a teammate.
Mariani really has to show coaches that he's ready to be a reliable contributor in the passing game. There's plenty of options at this position right now, with Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins still very much in the mix.
James Kirkendoll, who is going into his second season, also figures to push for a valuable roster position.
It doesn't help matters for Mariani that Wright will also compete for duties in the return game.
In other words, Mariani is fighting two position battles during this training camp.
Mariani certainly has the right drive and determination to become a staple of this passing offense, and he's looked strong in the opening day of training camp.
Zach Brown, LB
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A lot has already been said about Zach Brown's exceptional speed for a linebacker, but he has to prove a lot more to break into a starting role.
The Titans linebackers are already a young group once you take out Will Witherspoon, who Brown will primarily be battling throughout training camp.
Trotting out three linebackers with two years of experience between the tree of them would take a big leap of faith from the coaching staff.
Brown did waste little time impressing people with his speed by chasing down Chris Johnson in 11-on-11 drills.
If Brown keeps making plays like that, he'll be a starter along with Colin McCarthy and Akeem Ayers in Week 1.
Jamie Harper, RB
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Jamie Harper had a very strong showing last preseason, but saw the field very little in his rookie season.
Harper needs to have a repeat performance this time around to show coaches that he can be a solid second option behind Chris Johnson.
The problem is that Javon Ringer is also a solid backup for Johnson.
There is room for both Harper and Ringer to get valuable touches behind Johnson. Harper could become a valuable guy to go to near the goal line.
We'll get a chance to see much more of Harper and how he's progressed in the preseason. If he has a strong showing, then he should get much more playing time than his rookie season.
Tommie Campbell, DB
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People are very high on Tommie Campbell and what he could bring to this young defense. He could very well be set up for his breakout year in 2012.
It's already been reported that Campbell is expected to play opposite of Jason McCourty in nickel packages.
If Campbell can manage to really impress the coaches in training camp, then it's possible that he could become a full-time starter.
Campbell is one of the more athletic players on this team, and the sky is the limit to how good he can be. Some of that amazing athleticism was put on full display last season when Campbell took a kickoff back on a trick play from Marc Mariani.
It could end up being another smart draft pick by this organization in the late rounds of the draft.
Jake Locker, QB
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Jake Locker certainly has a tall task ahead of him if he wants to supplant veteran Matt Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback position.
After all, Hasselbeck was a primary reason the Titans were as successful as they were last season. Combine that with the tough opener against the New England Patriots, and you've got yourself a strong argument to stick with the veteran to open the season.
Locker has already proven that he has the tools to be a starter now. Now he just has to show coaches that he's mentally prepared for everything that goes along with being an NFL starting quarterback.
On the flip side, Hasselbeck has nothing to prove. He's been there and done that. That means Locker has to be very convincing that he somehow makes the Titans a better team as the starter.
The reps are pretty much being split at the moment between these two quarterbacks, but where Locker can really separate himself from Hasselbeck is how he performs during the preseason.
Locker performed well last preseason despite not having a regular offseason to prepare as a rookie, so his performance this year should be strong once again.
If Locker does indeed take the starting role from Hasselbeck to start the season, then it'll be his job for good. He is the future of this team, so there's no turning back once he's declared the starter.
A couple extended scoring drives during the preseason and limited mistakes in practice will go a long way when Mike Munchak makes his decision sometime during the preseason schedule.