The Tennessee Titans have completed their first six days of training camp. It's just training camp, and a lot can happen between now and the first game of the season, but training camps still give us a picture of what's to come that's clearer than anything so far this offseason.
Here are a few observations from the Titans' camps so far.
Author's Note: As much as I'd have liked to, I was unable to attend any training camp practices myself, so all of these observations are taken from what others are saying they saw on the field.
Jake Locker was the definition of inconsistency in 2012, but in recent practices, he's looked better. ESPN's Paul Kuharsky reported that on Day 5, Locker had an impressive performance in practice despite a heavy rain.
Kuharsky called it his best practice thus far.
More recently, SportsbySharona tweeted that Locker "just gets better and better" on Day 6 of training camp after a series of impressive throws.
Hopefully, Locker will keep improving during the season. If he can play at a mediocre level, the Titans will win more games than they did last year. If he plays at a high level, then the sky is the limit.
The Titans had a lot of problems at the strong safety position last year, which is why they brought in free agents George Wilson and Bernard Pollard.
Pollard has already made headlines with his outspoken manner, but he's more than just a big mouth. He has emerged as a leader on the defense.
Earlier this week, NFL.com reported that Pollard had taped his termination letter from the Ravens on his locker in Nashville. More recently, at training camp, he's been a vocal leader on the field, calling plays for the defense (per Sharona Sports) and bringing a swagger that was lacking.
Pollard is a bit of a liability in pass coverage, but with his hard-hitting playing style and willingness to step up as a leader, he'll be sure to see the field a lot.
I conjectured earlier this week that Akeem Ayers is poised for a breakout season, and I'm not the only one who's optimistic about him.
Ayers himself is setting his sights high. ESPN's Paul Kuharsky reported that Ayers' goal was at least 10 sacks in the upcoming season.
Of course, don't just take Ayers' word for it; defensive coordinator Jerry Gray believes in him too, according to John Glennon of The Tennessean.
Sharona Sports also reported that he's looked good in training camp, playing "all around the ball."
Everyone seems to think Ayers is in for a big season. Let's just hope everyone is right.
When the Titans traded up to snag Justin Hunter, I was conflicted. On the one hand, he was a steal at that point in the draft. On the other, another receiver wasn't exactly the biggest need the team had.
Either way, it's starting to look like there may be a reason to be excited about Hunter. He stood out among the Titans' receivers from Day 1 (per Zach Ragan of All for Tennessee).
He's earned praise since then as well. Sharona Sports reported that, despite some rookie errors, he's continued to impress in training camp.
With the speed and athletic ability he showed in college, if he can stay healthy, he could have a very long career with the Titans.
Now to be fair, Tommie Campbell was getting a lot of hype around this time last season, and he ended up seeing very little of the field.
This season may end that same way, but for now, there's reason to believe he'll be starting. On Wednesday, Campbell came out and practiced with the first-teamers, something Alterraun Verner had been doing up until now.
Paul Kuharsky reported that both Campbell and sophomore corner Coty Sensabaugh stood out in practices so far.
While Campbell is getting time with the first squad, Sensabaugh has been hauling in interceptions left and right according to John Glennon of The Tennessean (h/t Tony Crumpton of Tigernet).
Between the two, there'll be plenty of competition at both nickel and outside corner. Strangely enough, both will be primarily competing with Verner.
Chris Johnson had a fantastic practice on Day 5 of training camp. That's to be expected to some degree, since he was considered one of the best running backs in the league just a couple of years ago.
Sharona Sports (of Music City Miracles) had high praise for Johnson on Day 5, saying that he "had the defense's number" and rattled off several impressive runs.
Shonn Greene is getting his share of praise too. Sharona Sports reported that he had a strong day of practice on Wednesday (Day 6 of training camp).
Two solid running backs, paired with a mobile quarterback, behind an offensive line which, on paper, looks to be one of the league's best ought to make for a powerful and effective running game.
From Gregg Williams being vocal right off the bat (from The Tennessean), to Bernard Pollard taunting Justin Hunter (per John Glennon), to an all-out fight breaking out (also per Glennon), there's a lot more intensity coming from the defense so far.
In 2011, the Titans featured one of the better defenses in the league despite also fielding the youngest squad.
In 2012, after the loss of Cortland Finnegan, a very vocal leader on the field, the Titans defense became complacent. They surrendered more touchdowns than any other team and set a franchise record for points allowed.
There will be some growing pains (the fight at training camp proves that), but it's good to see some intensity back out there. Aggressive defenses tend to fare better than passive ones.