The Tennessee Titans Know It's a New Year As Training Camp Begins

Joseph Hawkes-BeamonContributor IJuly 30, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Running back Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans slips a tackle attempt by linebacker Daryl Smith #52 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on November 16, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Forget about last year, Tennessee Titans' fans, it's a distant memory.

Most believed that last year was the Titans' best chance at winning the franchise's first Super Bowl.

Forget about how the season ended rather quickly in the AFC Divisional playoffs to the hated Baltimore Ravens, that's in the past.

It's time to turn the page to a new season.

Entering his 15th season as Head Coach of the Titans, Jeff Fisher is a great leader and motivator. His players love playing for him, and he is one of the more respected coaches in the NFL. Fisher is the Oilers/Titans all-time leader in wins, with 133, and knows he certainly does know how to win football games. Football experts have the Titans winning the AFC South again this year.

Fisher has a legitimate leader at quarterback in the ageless wonder, Kerry Collins.

Collins took over for the ineffective Vince Young and guided the Titans to an AFC best 13-3 record and the AFC South title. Collins was rewarded with a two-year, $15 million extension. Collins' contract reassures that he is the man under center.

If Collins has another season like he did in 2008, Young's tenure as a Titan could be in serious jeopardy.

Unhappy about loosing his starting job to Collins last year, Young told a Baltimore TV station on May 30th that it's time to play for another team if the Titans didn't want him. Young is under contract for three more seasons but will count $14 million against the salary cap in 2010.

The Titans know that they've got one of the better running back duos in football in Chris Johnson and the suddenly slimmer LenDale White. The duo gave opposing defenses fits last year as Johnson blazed past defenders, and White bulldozed would-be tacklers.

Johnson had an unbelievable rookie season. He rushed for 1,228 yards and nine touchdowns. The Titans plan to get the ball in Johnson's hands more often by lining him up in the slot, as well as other spots on the field.

Entering his final year of his contract, White looks to improve his rushing total. 

After rushing for over a 1,000 yards in 2007, White took a step back in 2008. He rushed for only 773 yards but finished tied for first in the AFC with 15 rushing touchdowns. White hopes that with a lighter frame (he's slimmed down to 227 pounds) will help him gain more yards.

During training camp, it will be interesting to see who will emerge as the starting wide outs for the Titans.

Justin Gage has the inside track at being the No. 1 starting wide receiver. Gage had a team-best 651 yards receiving and a career-high six touchdown catches. The only question remains: who will line up on the other side of Gage?

The signing of former Pittsburgh Steelers' slot wide receiver Nate Washington was good, but not great. Washington is a good deep threat, but is he ready to become a go-to guy?

The drafting of former Rutgers University wide receiver Kenny Britt should pay off over time, but he remains unsigned. Britt finished his career as the Big East Conference's all-time leader in receiving yards with 3,043.

The Titans' defense will be under an enormous microscope heading into training camp.

Albert Haynesworth, the Titans' road blocker in the middle, became the highest paid defensive player in NFL history when he bolted for the Washington Redskins during the offseason. Since 2004, the Titans are 4-11 when Haynesworth doesn't start, so there should be some cause for concern. Is second year pro Jason Jones ready to fill the huge cleats left by Haynesworth?

With Haynesworth's departure, there could also be a ripple effect around the play of Tony Brown, Jevon Kearse, and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Haynesworth commanded countless double teams, which allowed the rest of the line to have one-on-one matchups. The Titans rarely had to blitz because the front four generated so much pressure to opposing quarterbacks.

Secondary coach Chuck Cecil takes over for former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who left to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions. Cecil takes over a defense that ranked seventh in the NFL last season and sent three from the starting secondary (Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin, and Chris Hope) to the Pro Bowl.

The Titans secondary ranked second in the NFL, behind the Green Bay Packers, in total interceptions with 19.

As training camp opens Friday, Titans' training camp will be one of the more closely followed training camps this year.