Jul. 23, 2020
Tennessee Titans: Three burning questions heading in to training camp
Thursday afternoon, the Tennessee Titans will welcome back quarterbacks, rookies, and players returning from injury to begin preparations for the fall 2020 season.
With big changes coming to the league - cutting two preseason games, reducing the training camp roster, and uncertainty regarding whether or not fans will be allowed in attendance - the Titans will be looking to return to the AFC Championship game and give themselves an easier road than in 2019.
It was a busy offseason for head coach Mike Vrabel and his team. Tennessee let go of Dion Lewis, Delanie Walker, kicker Ryan Succop, and edge rusher Cameron Wake in order to save money and create cap space to resign two important players.
Those were the extensions handed to quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry.
Here are three important questions that must be answered as camp gets underway.
Jadeveon, are you there?
Harold Landry has one of the starting edge rusher positions locked down heading in to the fall, but who will fill the void left by Wake on the opposite side of the defensive line?
Well, there have been far too many indications that free agent Jadeveon Clowney will sign with the Titans - EA Sports even showed Clowney in a Titans jersey during the reveal of Madden 21 - but nothing has happened yet.
The way the Titans' front office cleared space and locked down key players to extensions has sent the message to NFL fans that the team is clearing enough space to pay the talented pass-rusher upwards of $15 million this season as he has been asking for.
Chalk up the delay and lack of news to the coronavirus pandemic slowing in person operations.
The Seattle Seahawks do not want to offer Clowney the money he is asking for and the Cleveland Browns have already committed tons of money in free agency.
When all players report to camp Tuesday, don't expect to see Jadeveon Clowney strolling in. But, if a deal happens in the next week, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.
Can Tannehill handle the heat and build on 2019?
You aren't the no-name, back-up, underdog anymore Ryan Tannehill!
A four-year deal worth nearly $120 million guarantees that the eyes of fans all across the league will be trained on the former Texas A&M standout.
With Tannehill doing what he had to running the offense and Derrick Henry providing the big games week after week, teams now know what they will be going up against. The Titans play old-school football: run the ball between the tackles to set up the play action pass.
Thing is, Henry is so powerful with the ball in his hands and Tannehill was so consistent finding his talented wide receivers, neither the New England Patriots nor the top seed in the AFC could stop the Titans' offense in the postseason.
Ryan's stats were not jaw-dropping, but he is clutch and plays his heart out for his squad.
Will the money provided extra stress or motivation? Let's hope it's the latter.
Will we see the rookies?
It wasn't a flashy draft by any means this year. The Titans had just six picks total and three of those picks came in the fifth and seventh rounds.
So, no, we probably won't see half of the rookie class play a whole lot this fall. However, the players taken in the top three rounds very well could and likely should see some substantial playing time.
Losing Jack Conklin is not a big deal - I can't tell you how many times I have said this - and the upside on Isaiah Wilson is incredibly exciting. As I wrote after the draft, many analysts said that Wilson was primed to be a top-15 pick had he stayed in Athens with Kirby Smart for another season.
That being said, he doesn't have to start right off the bat. Tennessee resigned Dennis Kelly to have a quality veteran who understands the system in place just in case Wilson is not ready.
There is little doubt that Kristian Fulton will step in as the nickel cornerback to help Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler and he has the potential to be an elite talent in the secondary.
Darrynton Evans out of Appalachian State will feature due to Dion Lewis' departure and adds a threat that Henry doesn't. He is fantastic catching and running out of the backfield and could even see some time in the slot if he proves himself.
There are going to be a lot of story lines coming out of St. Thomas Park in Music City. Stay tuned for more!