The NFL preseason offers teams their final evaluation period of players before the real games get started. Sure, they're generally boring, offer little in the way of team analysis and seem to only serve as injury-risk season.
Leading up to preseason action, all the talk about the Titans was about the revamped interior offensive line, the bulked up defensive line, improved safety play and increased competition at positions all over the roster.
Two weeks in, angst is beginning to rise about the defense's apparent lateral move in defensive improvement. Opponents have still been able to run all over the Titans and the concerns about Bernard Pollard's coverage ability are very ... concerning.
As we head toward the Titans' third game of the preseason, let's take a look at who some of the team's more disappointing players have been.
CB Tommie Campbell
The Titans intend to give their starters some extended playing time in Saturday's game against the Atlanta Falcons, splitting the time at right corner by quarters with Alterraun Verner playing the first and Campbell playing the second.
When asked if having Verner start the game meant he was leading the competition, head coach Mike Munchak had this to say:
Yeah, it’s hedging that way, sort of leaning that way. But we still have to play another football game and see how we play as a group, and the conversation could be totally different. No one’s earned spots yet. We haven’t told anyone it’s their spot yet, but hopefully this time next week we will be saying that.
When Greg Williams joined the Titans coaching staff, the defensive scheme became decidedly in Campbell's favor with his superior size and length being ideal for the more emphasized man coverage.
While Campbell has looked better than last year, things are ultimately playing out the same way. If Campbell is unable to earn the starting corner position this year, he will quickly find himself buried on the depth chart.
C/G Fernando Velasco
After being tendered a one-year contract as a restricted free agent earlier in the offseason, Velasco looked like an automatic to make the team as the starting center. However, he's spent more time playing guard than center and looked out of place at the position.
Instead, free-agent acquisition Rob Turner appears to have a similar trait to the one of injured fourth-round pick Brian Schwenke: nasty.
After having the interior of the offensive line shoved around at times last season, coach Mike Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews are looking to bring a much more aggressive attitude to their offense.
Teammate Michael Roos seems to be in favor of the continued change to the starting lineup:
It’s just having that attitude of knowing you want to run the ball and doing it, even though the other team knows you want to run it. It’s about having that attitude that we won’t be denied, and I think having guys like (Turner) helps with that. He plays hard. He’s always downfield, always looking to take that extra shot. … It’s good to have that kind of guy.
Velasco will end up serving a quality swing interior lineman if he cannot win the starting center position.
K Rob Bironas
Bironas has not done much to assuage the anxiety fans have after his poor performance during the 2012 season. Bironas missed two field goals in the team's second preseason game in the loss. While kicker isn't going to make or break a roster, they are still important.
As stated, there's still plenty of time for these players to make some strides in becoming valuable assets to the team. Here's to hoping it's everyone.