According to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider, Titans linebackers Derrick Morgan and Akeem Ayers are both entering make-or-break seasons in 2014.
Both players are entering the final year of their respective contracts and will have something to prove this season. The Titans are implementing a new 3-4 defensive scheme following the hiring of former Cardinals and Browns DC Ray Horton.
With this in mind, Ayers and Morgan will be forced to compete for playing time at outside linebacker.
Morgan, 25, was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Morgan put up solid numbers as a defensive end in 2013, accumulating seven sacks, 35 tackles, 14 hits to the quarterback and 37 quarterback hurries.
“My first position playing football was at linebacker, but it’s been awhile. It’s not too different. It’s not too foreign for me to stand up and play out of a two-point stance. I’ve just got to continue to work at it,” said Morgan. “I moved around a lot, especially my junior year, all over the field, linebacker, blitzing and stuff like that. I’ve definitely done it before.”
Ayers, 25, was a second-round pick in 2011 and lined up as an outside linebackers in the Titans 4-3 scheme last season. Last year, Ayers recorded one sack, 48 tackles, 22 quarterback hurries and played considerably well as a pass rusher. He finished last season ranked as the No. 4 overall outside linebacker in a 4-3 system, according to Pro Football Focus.
Though Ayers ranked as one of the best 4-3 outside linebackers, he feels more than comfortable stepping into the 3-4.
“I feel like this better fits my skill set as a linebacker, because I’m able to do so many things. As an outside linebacker, you’re required to cover tight ends one-on-one, drop into zone coverage and also be able to rush the passer,” said Ayers. “I feel like I excel in those types of things. And just being on this defense, it causes more confusion (for the offense) and allows me to do more. I think I’ll be able to blossom more in this type of defense.”