Tennessee Titans Training Camp: McCourty, Mouton, Verner Battle To Start

David Daniels@TheRealDDanielsSenior Writer IAugust 3, 2010

Two years.

That is how much experience all three of the Tennessee Titans cornerbacks fighting for a starting job have combined.

Second-year corners Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton along with rookie Alterraun Verner are the competitors.

Many wise men have said that you learn more from failure than success.  If correct, McCourty and Mouton learned a ton last season on how to play on an island in the NFL.

With veterans Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper injured, McCourty and Mouton were inserted as starters for the Week Six embarrassment known as the Boston Massacre II.  Each was on the wrong end of a SportsCenter highlight all day, as the Patriots slaughtered the Titans, 59-0.

The game wasn't the pair's one-hit blunder, either.

McCourty started the two previous weeks in blowouts to the Jaguars and Colts, when the defense let up a total of 68 points.  Mouton was a starter in the Jacksonville contest as well, but his 10 seconds of infamy came the week before against the Jets.  He muffed and lost two punts, pretty much single-handedly costing the Titans the game.

Despite their deficiencies last season, both players have reportedly improved greatly throughout the offseason.  The two mentioned that after a more than shaky start, they each regained confidence, and if there is one mental trait an NFL cornerback absolutely cannot lack, it's self-confidence.

Despite being just a rookie, and fourth round pick at that, Alterraun Verner has just as good of a chance to win the starting job as McCourty and Mouton.

At training camp Monday, Jeff Fisher was questioned by the media about Verner's starting chances and answered:

"Oh, he’s legitimately in the running.  The things that we saw from him, not only prior to the draft, but basically the two weeks of the June OTAs, he was fairly impressive.  He came in and made a lot of plays.  He’s definitely in the mix there."

So far this offseason, the three have split time pretty evenly.  McCourty started across from Cortland Finnegan throughout the vast majority of the offseason, but there was a new player opposite the Pro Bowler at the start of training camp.  Mouton worked with the first string, but Fisher insisted they will continue to use a rotation and that there is no favorite.

Former first-round bust Tye Hill has been mentioned as a competitor for the job.  Hill hasn't been able to avoid injury and play more than a half a season since his 2006 rookie campaign, and now he has a bad hamstring.  By the time he is fully healed, it will almost definitely be too late to catch the other three.

McCourty should be the front-runner for the starting spot.  He played in front of Mouton from start to finish in 2009 and during this past offseason.  Unless Mouton improved considerably more than McCourty, or Verner ends up being the steal of the draft, it's McCourty's job to lose.

On Sunday, Finnegan was asked about the competition and replied:

"...they’re all improving.  We’re going to get a good solid starter, maybe two out of that group.  They’re all improving and it’s going to be a fun deal to watch."

It may be fun to watch the three professionals compete, but it will be even more fun to see a solid corner finally emerge and return a now questionable secondary to its once dominant form.

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