Tennessee Titans: Stock Up, Stock Down on Every Positional Unit

Marlon Maloney@@marlonmaloneyCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

Tennessee Titans: Stock Up, Stock Down on Every Positional Unit

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    Two weeks into preseason action, analysts and fans alike are unsure of what to expect from the 2012 Tennessee Titans.

    The team does not appear to have discovered its identity at this point, with two very different performances to date.

    The team's inconsistency has left many vacillating between who they think should start and who should be cut.

    Let's take a look at the risers and fallers so far. 

Stock Down: Quarterbacks

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    What was once considered a position of strength has quickly become a point of weakness for the Tennessee Titans.

    Arguably the league's biggest position battle this offseason, the battle between quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker has looked more like a picture of futility through two weeks of action.

    The two are yet to throw a touchdown pass. In Hasselbeck's first start of the preseason he threw a pick-six on the team's first offensive play and finished the night 5-of-9 for 45 yards and two INTs.

    Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Hasselbeck didn't get a great opportunity to move himself back into the driver's seat in the QB battle.

    He finished the night having only played two drives and completed 4-of-5 passes for 29 yards and ran for a gain of seven yards.

    Locker, on the other hand, looked solid during Week 1 action but didn't blow anyone away. Locker's stat line read 7-of-13 for 80 yards, keeping alive all concerns about his accuracy.

    In his first-ever NFL start, Locker regressed, going 4-of-11 for 21 yards, an interception and 24 yards rushing on two carries.

    The two have left a lot to be expected, with no one seeming ready to take up the mantle as the Tennessee Titans' starting quarterback.

Stock Up: Running Backs

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    If there's one guy who has stood out for the Titans, it is running back Darius Reynaud. Reynaud has been lighting it up through two preseason games with 104 yards rushing, 176 return yards and two TDs.

    Chris Johnson looked much more like the CJ that deserves the huge payday he received last year against Tampa Bay, while Ringer and Harper have both been the steady reserve backs they are known to be.

    Overall, after a 216-yard performance against the Bucs, this unit is looking like it is in midseason form, but ultimately they are only as good as Chris Johnson is.

    The battle between Colin Mooney and Quinn Johnson has been opened up to include Jaime Harper, with no real indication into who will win the job.

Stock Up: Wide Receivers

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    It's tough to look good when your top two quarterbacks seem intent on not winning the team's starting job, but for the most part Tennessee's receiving corps has looked formidable. 

    Jake Locker's throws were erratic during his first-ever NFL start and Hasselbeck was a turnover machine in his start.

    The unit took a backseat to a strong showing from the running game, but were strong throughout the game.

    Whenever Kenny Britt is able to join the lineup, this unit will be a nightmare for opposing defenses.

Stock Up: Offensive Line

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    The Titans offensive line has done a good job of working together despite an assortment of changes to the starting unit. 

    Steve Hutchinson was able to fit in almost immediately at left guard and Leroy Harris appears to be adjusting nicely to his shift to the right side of the line.

    The latest adjustment came with the season-ending injury to center Eugene Amano, moving Fernando Velasco into the starting role.

    The unit has allowed two sacks through two preseason games and neither took place with that game's respective starter on the field.

    Their struggles with run blocking appeared to still be unfixed after the team's game against the Seattle Seahawks but took some major strides toward improvement with some better game-planning. 

Stock Down: Tight Ends

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    Jared Cook still appears to be the same inconsistent elite talent he has always been.

    He was completely non-existent against the Bucs, and Taylor Thompson looks like he could become a scary good talent but is still very raw.

    I'm sure offensive coordinator Chris Palmer is holding plenty of plays back that feature the team's tight ends, but it would be nice to see Cook finally become a consistent threat.

    Craig Stevens remains an undervalued receiving threat, capable of picking up small chunks of yardage and being a solid blocker. 

Stock Up: Defensive Line

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    Fans are seeing glimpses of an improved pass rush so far, with six sacks through two games. 

    It's not just that the team has been picking up sacks, but that they've been able to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks on a consistent basis.

    The front four has also done a great job of stopping the run as well. They held the Bucs to 82 yards on 29 carries and were largely effective against the Seahawks if not for the ability of Russell Wilson.

    Let's face it, I'm sure inserting a scout defender into the scheme for the team's first preseason game was not a priority.

    Overall, the defense performed very well, allowing just six first downs, the Bucs went 3-of-14 on third down and allowed 81 total net yards.

Stock Up: Linebacker

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    Perhaps the youngest unit on the Titans' roster, the linebacker corps appears primed to be a major part of this year's defense.

    Colin McCarthy still looks like the exciting player he was last year and appears to have improved his coverage ability. He already has an interception, a tackle for loss and eight tackles overall.

    Rookie Zach Brown led the team in tackles, with six, for the game against the Bucs, eschewing claims that he is afraid of contact. He has 10 tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass defensed.

    Akeem Ayers has been much quieter while he continues to get work in as a down lineman. He still remains a solid starting linebacker.

    Reserve backer Tim Shaw picked up one of the team's four sacks against the Buccaneers in their second preseason game.

    A season-ending knee injury to Gerald McRath comes at no cost, as he appeared slotted as a roster cut anyway.

    This unit is very young and only improving. 

Stock Up: Defensive Backs

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    I know it seems crazy for the entire defense's arrow to be pointing up at this point in the offseason, but when a team only allows 81 yards of offense, it's difficult to find fault in anyone.

    The Titans secondary allowed a measly 38 yards receiving that were ultimately nullified by sacks. The Buc's quarterbacks combined for minus-one yards passing for the game.

    The unit allowed 195 yards of receiving to the Seahawks, which is still a strong performance in today's NFL, so any signs of Cortland Finnegan's departure being a huge loss are yet to be seen.

    Safety Robert Johnson started over Jordan Babineaux against the Bucs, an odd development that raises questions about the play of Babineaux.

    Johnson didn't appear on the stat sheet but appeared to consistently be in proper position.


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    Overall, it's still way too early to tell which players will lead the charge for the Tennessee Titans in 2012 and who will falter.

    At this time of year, most news skews toward optimism and, for the most part, that's the case here as well.

    The defense does appear to be faster, but they also appeared to be the same passive defense we witnessed last season against the Seahawks.

    With such a drastic difference in the team's performance from preseason Week 1 to Week 2, it's difficult to know which version is the real Titans.

    We'll just have to wait and see.


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