Tennessee Titans Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report
Training camp is now finally in full swing for the Tennessee Titans as they try to make quick progress in a system being installed by head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Time is certainly of the essence for this team that is coming off of a disappointing 7-9 season.
The Titans will open up the season with three of their first four on the road, with three of their first four games also coming against playoff teams from 2013.
In other words, the Titans have no time to mess around. This team is going to have to pull of a minor upset or two in the early going to keep from starting the season 0-2 or even 0-4.
Here is a stock report on the players involved in key position battles after the early portion of training camp.
Jake Locker's Stock: Slightly Up
It's firmly Locker's starting job to lose, and he would have to downright stink up the place to lose his job to whoever is lining up behind him on the depth chart.
Locker had an up-and-down first training camp practice, per John Glennon of The Tennessean. His observations included a deep connection with Kendall Wright but also an interception to Bernard Pollard.
The most positive thing to pull away from Locker in the early portion of training camp is that he's fully healthy and is capable of making all of the throws he's going to need to make in Week 1. I look for him to get sharper and sharper as training camp progresses.
Zach Mettenberger: Slightly Down
Mettenberger certainly has shown that he has the strongest arm in training camp. However, we've also seen that there's plenty of development remaining. For the few people who thought Mettenberger had a chance to overtake Locker, they should be silenced by now.
This is no knock on Mettenberger or his potential. It just means that he is going to be a project early on.
It's also been challenging for Mettenberger to see a ton of reps to due to most of the reps going to Charlie Whitehurst and Jake Locker, according to Joe Fann of the Titans official website.
This confirms the belief that Mettenberger is no threat to being any higher on the depth chart than third string in his rookie season.
One thing we can say is that Mettenberger has a great head on his shoulders that you want to see in someone who could eventually be your franchise quarterback. The fact that he walked away from being sucker-punched in a Nashville bar says a lot about his character and leadership.
It will be interesting to see what kind of progress he makes when training camp concludes, and you can only hope that Mettenberger isn't forced in before he's ready.
Shonn Greene: Slightly Up
It was a rough first season in a Titans uniform for Shonn Greene in 2013. He struggled to just 295 yards rushing while dealing with a lingering knee injury that he still isn't completely over.
With Chris Johnson out of the picture, it makes Greene's role even more critical as the veteran lining up with rookie Bishop Sankey.
Greene has received first-team reps early on in training camp, according to the Associated Press. This is encouraging news for a guy who hasn't seen much action recently. He did get the day off earlier in the week.
Expectations need to be managed here, and it looks like Whisenhunt is moving slowly with Greene and doesn't want to push him too hard early on.
If Greene shows he can stay healthy in training camp, then I believe he'll earn himself a spot on the roster alongside Dexter McCluster and Bishop Sankey. It would make for a formidable trio.
Dexter McCluster: Slightly Down
McCluster was as good as advertised during the first two days of training camp. He's seen a lot of action at running back to showcase his gifted speed, per Jordan L. Churchill of Music City Miracles.
However, things came back down to reality once the pads came on. McCluster has taken some big hits since contact drills began. It makes you wonder if he'll be able to hold up at running back and if Kansas City saw that as a reason to not move forward with him.
It's still unknown how McCluster is exactly going to be used in this offense and what the ratio is going to be from running back to wide receiver.
The Titans definitely paid a hefty sum to get McCluster in a Titans uniform, so I expect to see him on the field in a number of different combinations.
Jackie Battle: Way Up
Battle is listed as a running back even though most of his work is going to be as a fullback. He's really showcasing his versatility, according to Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com:
This is has been a nice surprise to see Battle find his niche with this team. I thought he was going to be cut due to the crowded running back position, but his value at fullback can't be denied.
Tommie Campbell: Trending Down
For a guy who has to have a pretty flawless training camp showing, Tommie Campbell has looked average at best. He's one of those guys who is in the middle of a crowded position at cornerback, and there might not be enough room for him when it's all said and done.
Campbell has gotten beat a few times deep, which was noted in Paul Kuharsky's training camp report on ESPN.com. He's got to perform better to ensure himself a backup role on this group of young cornerbacks.
Coty Sensabaugh: Slightly Up
There is a major battle going on between Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson, as we all expected there to be.
It's hard to say who's winning that battle with such a small sample size of training camp to go of off, but Sensabaugh has certainly been effective as he shifts from mainly playing the nickel position in his limited NFL experience.
Coty Sensabaugh working with starters at CB; Taylor Lewan working as starting LG #Titans— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) July 28, 2014
You can't read too much into Sensabaugh getting starter reps in such a heated position battle. Both players will see their fair share of opportunities to impress the coaches. However, Sensabaugh is slightly ahead in this race for me, with still plenty of competition to unfold.
Marc Mariani: Way Up
You couldn't have asked for a better start to training camp for Marc Mariani. He has to really prove himself as a wide receiver to make this team, and he's done that after a few intense practices.
Jim Wyatt of the The Tennessean commented on Mariani's performance on Monday:
Marc Mariani continues to make plays. Just got behind a defender on a deep ball #Titans— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) July 28, 2014
Mariani could end up being a huge difference-maker for this offense if he can chip in a handful of catches from week to week. He doesn't have to set the NFL world on fire, but just posing as a threat to opposing defenses will do wonders for the the likes of Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter.
Anyone who is rooting for Mariani to remain in a Titans blue should be pleased with his performance so far.
Justin Hunter: Trending Up
Is Justin Hunter primed for a breakout 2014 season under an offensive-minded coaching staff? It certainly seems that way after seeing him make some of the plays he's made in training camp.
Watch out for this passing offense if Hunter can make a major leap from his rookie season, which was promising in itself.
Wesley Woodyard: Way Up
Perhaps the defensive star of training camp so far has been Wesley Woodyard. He's laid out plenty of big hits, including one on Dexter McCluster, per John Glennon of The Tennessean.
The acquisition of Woodyard is so important for this new 3-4 defense. It needed an inside linebacker who had experience playing in this kind of defense, and Woodyard has looked the part with the pads on in practice.
Zach Brown: Slightly Up
It was a season to forget for Zach Brown and the other Titans linebackers in 2013. Brown is now looking to win the other starting role at inside linebacker alongside Wesley Woodyard.
Brown has seen his share of starter reps during the first few practices and turned in a solid interception on Taylor Thompson. There's still more to prove with there being so much competition for just one spot on the roster, and Ken Whisenhunt has made it clear that there is no set depth chart during these early practices.
Mike Martin: Trending Up
A good player or two is probably going to be cut from the defensive line when training camp comes to an end. Mike Martin is one of those possibilities, but he's played very well in the early going.
John Glennon of The Tennessean reported that Ken Whisenhunt was impressed with Martin on Monday:
Whisenhunt mentions Mike Martin, Pitoitua. Sankey, Morgan and Wimbley as standing out today.— John Glennon (@glennonsports) July 28, 2014
This could end up being a battle between Martin and Karl Klug for a roster spot. Martin is winning that battle as of now.