Rounding Up the Latest Offseason Buzz Surrounding Titans
The NFL season is still a long way away, but there's already been plenty of offseason activity. From the scouting combine to free agency to the draft to the start of OTAs, it's been a busy offseason.
Even with all that's happened already, there's still plenty of offseason still in front of us. When practices begin and we get close to the preseason, we'll really start to get a picture of what 2013 will be like for the Tennessee Titans.
Until then, here's a rundown of some of the latest stories coming out of the Titans' camp.
Since quarterback is the most important position, there's going to be buzz around the position even if not much is happening.
In 2012, Locker missed a lot of playing time when he injured his left shoulder, and when he was in, he didn't look like the same quarterback that he was when his shoulder was healthy.
Now, according to Terry McCormick of TitansInsider, Locker says that his shoulder feels normal and that he's ready to lead the team again.
2013 is a make-or-break year for Locker, so he needs to look a lot more like pre-injury Locker than post-injury Locker if he wants to stay with the Titans.
If he can, then the Titans offense could be deadly in 2013.
The Titans defense had a lot going against it in 2012, but even considering all the excuses, its performance was unacceptable.
As part of an effort to fix that, the Titans' defensive staff is tweaking the defensive packages to account for different problems the team ran into last season, per Craig Peters of Titans Online.
With new defensive players Bernard Pollard, George Wilson, Ropati Pitoitua and Sammie Hill, along with rookies Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Zaviar Gooden, Jerry Gray will have his work cut out for him.
A return to simplicity may be in order. Gray ran a simplified defensive system in 2011, and the defense fared very well, despite being the youngest defense in the league.
Perhaps a system closer to the one Gray ran in 2011 would cater better to the Titans' strengths.
Of course, one reason the defensive scheme is likely to look a lot different in 2013 is the addition of Gregg Williams to the coaching staff.
It was big news when the Titans hired the former Saints defensive coordinator who spent a year in suspension after the Bountygate scandal, but the Titans players are feeding off of Williams' enthusiasm and energy, per Teresa Walker of The Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports).
The best possible outcome of Williams' addition to the staff would be the Titans defense picking up a bit of the aggression that Williams' defenses are known for.
On the other hand, if Williams and Gray begin to butt heads about the direction the defense should be going, it could divide the team and become a distraction.
Gray and Williams have worked together before, so there's good reason to hope they'll work well together again.
The Ground Game
Chris Johnson has been making headlines in his usual outspoken way, but according to Will Brinson of CBS Sports, Johnson is starting to come around to the idea of Shonn Greene splitting carries with him.
Johnson is a great running back, but he's simply not the kind of guy you can trust on 3rd-and-short when a defense stacks the box. Greene may have been overpaid by the Titans, but he can be the type of short-yardage back that the Titans have been missing since LenDale White was cut.
Greene also gives the Titans a very good option when Johnson is gassed, or as a change-of-pace back.
Whether Greene sees only a few carries or ends up getting a larger share than expected, the ground game is going to be central to the Titans offense in 2013.
The Offensive Line
No matter how good your running backs are, they won't do too much without a good offensive line. The Titans certainly have the pieces for that.
The Titans added All-Pro guard Andy Levitre in free agency, top guard prospect Chance Warmack and even threw competition into the center spot with Brian Schwenke.
Now, Mike Munchak is even getting some hands-on work with the offensive linemen, particularly with Warmack, to get them ready for the season, per David Climer of The Tennessean.
Munchak was one of the league's premier offensive line coaches before he was promoted to head coach, but I have to wonder if he doesn't trust offensive line coach Bruce Matthews enough not to micromanage.
There are a lot of starting spots and depth positions up for grabs, and by the time the season starts, you can expect the Titans' starting lineup to look a little different.
Delanie Walker's injury makes the tight end position tougher to sort out, especially with undrafted free agent Jack Doyle doing so well, according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.
Fernando Velasco and Brian Schwenke will battle it out for center, and the winner may not be determined until the regular season.
Tommie Campbell is competing for the outside corner spot across from Jason McCourty, per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. He'll be competing with newcomer Blidi Wreh-Wilson for that spot and with veteran Alterraun Verner for playing time.
The Titans have nine draft picks and 12 undrafted free agents that are yet to play a down in the league.
The Titans cut ties with three undrafted free agents already: Tom Wort, Stefphon Jefferson, and Matthew Sewell, according to Sports Illustrated.
The team has recently come to terms with Justin Hunter and Zaviar Gooden, per Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, its second- and third-round picks, respectively. Hunter signed a four-year deal worth $5.4 million, according to Jim Wyatt. The details of Gooden's contract are not available yet.
The signing of Gooden and Hunter leave only Chance Warmack and Blidi Wreh-Wilson unsigned.
Speaking of Warmack, he and Brian Schwenke seem to be already clicking together, according to Terry McCormick, which speaks well to Schwenke's chances of starting this season. Warmack is a lock to start at guard, so if he's already working well with one potential center, that'll help his case to start.