Breaking Down Tennessee Titans' Biggest Training Camp Battles

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2013

All of the new faces currently on the Tennessee Titans through free-agent signings, draft picks and undrafted-free-agent signings will lead to plenty of exciting training camp battles.

Like every other NFL team, the Titans will have some tough decisions to make at key positions to trim their roster down to 53 players.

Here are the biggest position battles for the Tennessee Titans as training begins in less than two weeks.


Backup Wide Receivers

Candidates: Damian Williams, Marc Mariani, Michael Preston, Rashad Ross, Dontel Watkins, Travis Harvey, Diondre Borel, Roberto Wallace.

There is obviously a major traffic jam for the Titans at wide receiver, and this will be the biggest position battle to keep an eye on in training camp.

The Titans currently have some very inexperienced players who will be battling it out to be backups to Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and a few others.

Damian Williams figures to have the best chance to get one of the remaining spots due to his limited experience and decent production from last season.

However, one of these undrafted free agents could really throw everything for a loop in this position battle.

Dontel Watkins is a guy out of Murray State who has the raw talent to make this team and possibly send a fan favorite like Marc Mariani packing.

Watkins is a speedy guy who can get behind the defense for the big play, but he also has the ability to catch the ball in space and pick up some tough yards.

He displayed that some at Murray State against a tough Florida State defense.

The Titans have had moderate success with some undrafted free agents in the past, and Watkins is a guy who will make this a fun position battle to watch.

Mariani is another guy who has just as much to prove as a wide receiver as these other inexperienced receivers fighting for a spot on the team.

There's no questioning Mariani's value as a kick returner, but a crowded depth chart has kept him from seeing any significant time on the field as a receiver.

He's been working hard this offseason to find a way onto the team and be one of those players who can help out the top three Titans receivers (Britt, Wright, and Washington). You can also throw Justin Hunter into that equation.

There is no questioning Mariani's drive and determination, which are the best things he has going for him at this point. It's his lack of production in the limited time he did play receiver that hurts his chances.

Mariani managed just five catches on 12 targets in 2011, with a long of just six yards. That says Mariani just couldn't get open or wasn't an effective route-runner. A combination of both was probably the case.

The question is, has he become any better as receiver since then?

The Titans are pretty much set at receiver at this point, but who they decide to take out of these handful of guys will be interesting to see.



Candidates: Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Tommie Campbell, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Khalid Wooten, Coty Sensabaugh, George Baker, Matt Pierce.

This position is one that has to drastically improve in 2013 for the Titans to have a chance to get to the next tier of teams in the AFC.

Jason McCourty is locked in as the No. 1 guy at cornerback, but the waters get a little murky after that.

Last year's starter opposite McCourty was Alterraun Verner, and he really struggled at times. It leaves the door wide open for the athletic Tommie Campbell to have a chance at overtaking Verner for a starting role.

Anyone remember how electric Campbell can be? Here's a reminder from the Lions game last season. 

Now even though that play had absolutely nothing to do with how good of a cornerback Campbell could end up being, it's hard to ignore that athletic ability. Imagine him making an interception in open space; it could easily end up going the other way for a touchdown.

The Titans will need a few defensive touchdowns in 2013 to take some pressure off of Jake Locker.

Campbell brings more value to the cornerback position as a man-coverage player, and so does rookie Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Both will have strong chances of demoting Verner into being a nickel guy only.

The real battle could come down to Campbell and Wreh-Wilson to start opposite of McCourty.

Wreh-Wilson displayed speed at the NFL combine that should silence some of the criticism about his size.

Campbell is the favorite at this point, but Wreh-Wilson could win the job if he impresses coaches in training camp.


Defensive Tackle

Candidates: Sammie Lee Hill, Jurrell Casey, Mike Martin, Karl Klug, DaJohn Harris, Antonio Johnson, Zach Clayton, Stefan Charles, Nigel Nicholas.

This position battle is almost as crowded as wide receiver is, with Hill and Casey being the top two in the race.

After those two, it's really anybody's guess on how it will unfold in training camp.

Mike Martin really began to make a name for himself last season as he registered three sacks and 37 tackles as a rookie. He's got a competitive streak about him that will keep him high up on the depth chart.

The battle is going to come down to Karl Klug, Zach Clayton and Canadian college football standout Stefan Charles.

Klug has to have the upper hand at this point in this battle. He led the team in sacks as a rookie; if that's not impressive enough, he also has an edge to him that is hard to deny.

It will be an uphill battle for Charles to prove to coaches that he can handle the NFL competition that is so vastly different from the competition is he's used to.

Clayton has been with the team for two years out of Auburn and has only three tackles to show for it. He's probably going to be the odd man out, meaning that Charles could become the last of the defensive tackles chosen for the final roster.


Honorable Mention

Interior Offensive Line

Who will be starting center for the Titans when Week 1 rolls around against the Steelers? It comes down to rookie Brian Schwenke or veteran Robert Turner.

Turner can play guard or center, so you would expect Schwenke to be the front-runner in this battle. However, Turner is a versatile guy who could give the Titans coaching staff a better feeling in Week 1 with his experience.

There shouldn't be whole lot of competition at the tackle position. It's David Stewart's job to lose, and there's no way Michael Roos will lose his starting job.



You still have Markelle Martin looking to remain on the roster after virtually never stepping a foot onto the practice field in his rookie season. He'll battle with rookie Daimion Stafford, but the odds aren't good for Martin.

Al Afalava is another guy who got limited action toward the end of last season, and he'll be in the midst of this modest position battle at safety.


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