Will Cornerback Depth Be an Issue For Titans In 2009?
Drafting a wide receiver might have gotten the offseason headlines, but the Tennessee Titans also used the time to improve at cornerback.
Depth at that position is something that should worry fans coming into the 2009 season.
Pro Bowl cornerback Cortland Finnegan returns as the team's No. 1 corner. The other starter, Nick Harper, also returns. But if one or both are injured, the Titans' pass defense will be thin. The other returning corners: Tanard Davis is playing his sixth different team since 2006 and Cary Williams spent last season injured and on the practice squad.
The situation becomes more clouded because Harper underwent abdominal surgery in the offseason. He was a regular on the Titans' injury report in the last quarter of the regular season. The 34-year-old is healthy going into training camp, but he is also entering the last year of his contract.
Before the draft, the Titans lost reserve corners when Detroit signed Eric King and Chris Carr signed with Baltimore. The Titans also opted to not re-sign Reynaldo Hill and Tyrone Poole at the end of last season.
The team did re-sign safety/nickel back Vincent Fuller. Fuller has appeared in 50 career games and registered 93 tackles, a sack, and two interceptions in four NFL seasons.
Knowing that depth was an issue last season, the team did make attempts to upgrade the position.
The Titans signed Texans free agent corner DeMarcus Faggins. Faggins played in all 16 games for the Texans in 2008 and started five games last year and eight in 2007. However, Texan fans aren't exactly crying over his departure. They also signed Christian Morton, who last played for Carolina in the 2006 season.
The Titans used 2009 draft picks at the position. They drafted Ryan Mouton in the third round. The 5'9" cornerback from the University of Hawaii tallied 69 tackles and three interceptions in 24 games at Hawaii and was All-Western Athletic Conference as a senior. Mouton has the talent to play corner and will likely get his chance to earn playing time.
Rutgers cornerback Jason McCourty was picked in the sixth round. McCourty, a three-year starter, made 52 tackles and two interceptions as a senior. The team also signed McNeese State corner Jeremy Haynes as an undrafted free agent. But neither are expected to contribute at cornerback right now.
Mouton will be a good addition and will likely join Faggins as the primary backup corners this season. Besides the starters, every other player at the position is either unproven or has underperformed.
There were some decent cornerbacks on the free agent market after the draft: Baltimore's Chris McAlister, New York Jets' Ty Law, Denver's Dre Bly, and Arizona's Roderick Hood. However, none of these players are realistic for Tennessee. Tennessee will need at least one of the corners to improve enough to earn significant playing time.
Hopefully, depth won't be an issue. But one pulled hamstring might require these young cornerbacks to step in.
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