Football is just weeks from returning to Nashville and the Tennessee Titans are riding high.

Fresh off signing Eric Decker, things are looking good for the Titans. Their roster was named one of the best in football according to PFF, Marcus Mariota is making great progress in recovering from his late season knee injury, and they have become a sleeper favorite to take the AFC.

However, with the season inching closer by the minute, even the most minute detail can begin to seem colossal in scale and despite the high expectations heading into this season, this team has its fair share of shortcomings.

With that said, here are some of the things that have me most concerned as the Titans prepare for Training Camp:

Middle Linebacker

This was probably the Titans weakest position last season and very little has changed with just weeks to go until Training Camp.

I don’t think its fair to call Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson bad players, mostly because I share a last name with one of them, but they certainly aren’t anything worth writing home about. There were plenty of opportunities for the Titans to upgrade the position via the draft and free agency, but the team elected to take a more modest route. Jayon Brown seems to be the team’s main upgrade at the position and he was just a fifth round pick.

Brown looked impressive during OTAs, but expecting a fifth round rookie to revolutionize a linebacking corps is a little much. There just isn’t an overwhelming amount of talent at the linebacker position and it could be the thing that keeps the Titans defense from taking the next step.


The Titans were the eleventh youngest team in football last season and only got younger heading into this year. The team will rely on rookie and second year players at several key positions and it has me a bit concerned.

Prior to the Eric Decker signing, Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor were expected to remake the Titans receiving corps, which is asking a lot of two rookie receivers. Adoree’ Jackson was a bit of a reach as the 18th pick in the draft and I’d be surprised if he can provide quality minutes as a rookie playing on the outside. Johnu Smith is going to be used heavily in two tight end sets and as an in line blocker with Anthony Fasano in Miami. And I’ve already explained how important Jayon Taylor is going to be at linebacker.

In terms of second year players, a lot is gonna be riding on Kevin Dodd. The former Clemson edge rusher left a lot to be desired as a rookie and considering he’s going to be rotating into games early, he needs to improve on what little he showed just a year ago. He could be the key to a successful pass rush this season, but he needs to figure things out first. Jack Conklin graded out as the sixth best tackle in football last season according to PFF last season, an impressive accomplishment for a rookie, but I wouldn’t expect a follow up performance. Don’t be surprised if Conklin is subject to the sophomore slump that has plagued so many players before him.

There are some lofty expectations being placed on this Titans team and for them to come to fruition, young guys are going to have to step up.

Interior Offensive Line

The Titans had the best bookends in football last year in Jack Conklin and Taylor Lewan. While the interior of their offensive line was not of the same elite level, it was still better than most.

Ben Jones saw a huge jump in quality last season and graded out as the seventh best center in football according to PFF. Prior to that however, he had fared about as well as Quinton Spain and Josh Kline did last season, quality starters, but nothing fancy. Spain could continue to improve on the great strides he made last season, just his second in the NFL, but Kline on the other hand, Im not so sure. Kline played well filling in for Chance Warmack, but Im not sure how good he truly is after having previously fallen out with the New England Patriots.

The loss of Warmack also has me slightly concerned. While he had his cliffs and valleys with the Titans, and played just two games last season, he could have provided quality depth to the guard position. As it stands, the Titans top back ups are Tom Lelito, Sebastian Tretola, and sixth round rookie, Corey Levin, none of which give me much confidence in the event of an injury.

My biggest concern is that the interior line simply benefited from the excellent play of Lewan and Conklin last season. In the event that either do not play at the same high level of quality, or if either miss time due to injury, the rest of the line’s continuity could then soon crumble.

Running Game

The offensive line and running game paved the way to the Titans surprising 9-6 season. If they want to win the AFC South this year, they’re going to need both facets of the offense to preform at the same high level.

DeMarco Murray played a huge role in completely remaking the Titans offense last season. The former Offensive Player of the Year returned to form after a disappointing season with the Philadelphia Eagles and led the AFC in rushing.

Last season was also just the second time in Murray’s career that he played a full 16 game season, and that was with a plethora of bumps and bruises along the way. Murray’s physical style of play takes a toll on the body and with him getting up there in age, I’d be surprised to see him play another 16 games this year.

Thankfully, former second round pick and Heisman winner Derrick Henry is here to alleviate some of the burden for Murray. Henry showed promise in limited reps, but finished the season with just a 68.9 grade from PFF. Henry is expected to take on a much bigger role heading into this season, but don’t be surprised if there’s some bumps in the road as he develops.

While this could simply be me over thinking a good thing, an injury to Murray or the offensive line could seriously hurt the Titans running game and offense as a whole. With Marcus Mariota returning from a knee injury, a quality running game would serve as a very useful crutch for him to lean on at times. Otherwise, any short comings in the running game could then effect the passing game.

This article first appeared on and was syndicated with permission.


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