By Kim Dunning
The Tennessee Titans are ready for football. The full swing of training camp has begun. Newly acquired veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson is on the field and looking good and is just familiarizing himself with the playbook on Friday night, as the Titans are looking to improve their record in 2016.
The Titans also traded for veteran running back Demarco Murray. The hope is that Murray can return to his 2014 form and alleviate some of the pressure off of quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The Titans are welcoming Mike Mularkey back as head coach for his first full season with the team. They have only had 5 wins in the last two NFL seasons combined. Mularkey is lucky that a majority of his team is returning.
The biggest thing to look for this season is consistency from quarterback Marcus Mariota, who will be in sophomore season. Will Mariota have the dreaded “sophomore slump”, it’s highly unlikely as he was the better of the drafted quarterbacks last season.
The Titans will be playing two tough divisions this season with the NFC North and the AFC West. They also have on their schedule their own division, which playing a division rival you never know what is going to happen. The Titans also play the Dolphins and the Browns, both of whom finished at the same position in their division as the Titans last season. Dead last.
Based upon last year’s records and stats, the Titans should hopefully finish 3rd In their division at 6-10, but that is a vast improvement over last season where they finished 3-13.
The Titans traded away their number one overall draft pick to the Rams for a slew of picks.
Jack Conklin, offensive lineman. You can never go wrong with drafting lineman who protect your quarterback. The only question is whether Conklin will play tackle or guard.
Kevin Dodd, linebacker. The Titans pass rush started decent enough until injuries hit them and they realized they sorely lacked depth. Dodd can provide the depth they need and hopefully contribute to the pass rush.
Austin Johnson, defensive tackle. While the Titans seemed to be happy with their current starters it’s not a crime to have a little competition for a starting job. Even if Johnson doesn’t win a starting job, he will definitely push the starters to stay on top of their game.
Derrick Henry, running back. Henry will most likely back up Murray, seeing as how the rest of the backs on the Titans roster aren’t all that special. Henry is a big powerful back and should shine if Murray takes the time to tutor him.
Keep in mind, all the above listed picks are first and second round selections. The Titans sti) had six more draft picks. Kevin Byard, safety. Tajae Sharpe, wide receiver. Leshaun Sims, cornerback. Sebastian Tretola, offensive guard. Aaron Wallace, linebacker. Kalan Reed, cornerback.
Yes, that’s a lot of draft picks. Will all of them make the final 53? Maybe, maybe not. The good thing is all those draft picks promote competition and competition brings out a players best. The best player will win out.
It will definitely be worth watching the Titans and finding out if they can succeed with the veteran help or if Mariota will fall victim to the sophomore slump.
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