Burning Questions for Tennessee Titans Training Camp
It's being labeled as a make-or-break season for Mike Munchak and the Tennessee Titans in 2013 after stumbling to a 6-10 record in 2012.
The offseason was filled with big free-agent signings and an intriguing draft class that will get plenty of playing time as rookies.
A productive training camp will be critical for this newly assembled team to be ready to go in Week 1 when they take on the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Here are the burning questions surrounding Titans training camp, which opens July 26 to the fans.
Can Jake Locker Show Improvement?
Jake Locker has caught a lot of criticism after last season's performance, and some are even ready to already to jump off the ship.
There were numerous factors that happened during Locker's first full season as a starter that should give him at least another season to show that he's going to improve.
For starters, the offensive line was in shambles for much of the season. Unless you are an exception to the rule, like Robert Griffin III, then young quarterbacks need reliable offensive lines to make them feel comfortable when they drop back.
The shoulder injury was unfortunate, and Locker was doomed from the start after that injury. He never felt completely comfortable. That comfort has seemed to have returned this offseason, and it should help Locker get off to a fresh start.
He also has a better defense lining up to protect leads and better targets to throw to.
However, Locker has to show some steady improvement in 2013 if he wants to avoid the lack of patience that the NFL tends to have with starting quarterbacks.
What Impact Will Free-Agent Signings Have on 2013?
The Titans were extremely aggressive in free agency to the delight of many fans Titans fans, but the pressure is on these free agents to produce results.
Simply improving on a 6-10 record will not be enough after seeing what all the Titans added in free agency.
Proven winners like Bernard Pollard and Delanie Walker will bring a winning mentality that this team has sorely been missing since Jeff Fisher left.
Veterans like Andy Levitre, George Wilson and Kevin Walter will hopefully make respectable impacts both on and off the field for this team.
This team can make a playoff push after adding these free agents, but the question is how big of an impact they can make right out of the gate.
The difference between the 2012 Titans team and the Titans team that is assembled now will be a night-and-day comparison. These guys will help the Titans win games they probably would not win with the same team from last season.
Can that impact be big enough to lead to a playoff berth? That's a question that everyone is eager to get an answer to.
Has Kenny Britt Finally Changed for the Better?
Kenny Britt is doing all of the right things this offseason to make it appear as though he's finally ready to keep his mind on football and let his amazing talents do the talking on the field.
Unless Britt proves it on the field, then this "promising" offseason will mean absolutely nothing.
Britt can really make this offense a great one if he shows up consistently and stays out of trouble. He could even put up Pro Bowl numbers if he stays healthy.
The Titans desperately want Britt to make the most out of this final chance they have given him.
Justin Hunter was drafted to be a backup plan if Britt doesn't step up, but having both of them playing well next to each other would make this a tough offense to stop.
Britt truly changing for the better could definitely mean a playoff appearance for the Titans in 2013.
How Fast Can the Rookies Become Effective?
At first glance, the 2013 draft class for the Titans looks like a good one. A majority of these guys will make moderate impacts on the Titans right away.
That's especially true for Chance Warmack and Justin Hunter.
Warmack is considered NFL-ready coming out of college, and Hunter has the athleticism to have his handprints all over the box score on any given week.
Hunter has been sidelined with a hamstring injury that has kept him from participating fully in practice, but a lot of that has been due to the Titans choosing to be cautious on rushing him back onto the practice field.
That says a lot about how big of a role Hunter will have in the offense as a rookie.
Brian Schwenke is another rookie from the draft class who will have an opportunity to start as center for the Titans. He has a mean streak that the Titans have been missing since Kevin Mawae departed.
Virtually the entire draft class will have their chances to make immediate impacts for the Titans, but how fast they can adapt to the NFL will be key.
The Titans need the bulk of these guys to have solid rookie campaigns.
Will Any Undrafted Free Agents Make the Final Roster?
The Titans brought in some intriguing undrafted free agents, and a handful of them have a decent shot at making the team.
Heading off the list of probability of making the team is tight end Jack Doyle. He's predominantly a pass-catching tight end who could carve himself a spot on the team off of that alone.
The Titans are somewhat set at tight end with Delanie Walker, Craig Stevens and Taylor Thompson.
However, Walker and Stevens are more valuable as blockers. As for Thompson, the jury is still out on if he can even fully transition from his former position of defensive end.
For those reasons, Doyle could make the team with a strong training camp.
Rashad Ross is a speedy receiver that has the big-play ability to earn him a roster spot. He had over 600 yards receiving for Arizona State in 2012.
Travis Harvey is another receiver who is a long shot to make the team, but he does have plenty of potential to make an impact during the preseason.
A few other guys who will push for roster spots will be offensive tackle Oscar Johnson and former Canadien college football star Stefan Charles. Both guys address depth issues that could play into their favor of making the final cut.
Odds are at least two of these guys will be on the roster when Week 1 rolls around, but which ones is up for debate.
Will Mike Munchak Find His Way off of the Hot Seat?
It came as somewhat of a surprise that Mike Munchak made it to his third season as head coach of the Titans, but this is probably his last chance to show he's the future at head coach.
If the Titans stumble out of the gate like they did last season, then the already toasty seat that Munchak is on will get as hot as it can get.
These new free-agent signings and exciting draft class have alleviated some of the negative attention that Munchak has been receiving, but the pressure is still on.
However, a strong start will quickly help everyone forget about a disastrous 2012. Let's also not forget that Munchak took a very average team in his first season to a 9-7 record that no one was expecting. That almost created false hope for 2012.
Munchak's seat remains on the hot side until they get some early season wins. If he gets this team to 10-6 or better, then he'll secure his future in Tennessee for another couple of seasons.