As the Tennessee Titans begin their organized team activities this week, several veterans should merit special interest and scrutiny.
Sure, it’s difficult to tell who will really take a step up and make a potential impact until the pads go on and the team gets into training camp.
Still, the OTAs give an early glimpse of what questions might be answered and which ones will linger as the coaching staff tries to sort out the roster and depth chart in the coming months.
Without including this year’s rookies, who had their orientation last week and won’t return until next week, here are some of the situations worth keeping an eye on even this early in the process.
1) Vince Young. It pretty much all starts right here, doesn’t it? Nine touchdown passes to 17 interceptions just won’t cut it. The questions about Young abound in regards to how he will react to the coaching of new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, the man who helped Steve McNair blossom into a league co-MVP. Heimerdinger’s approach will be markedly different than the grandfatherly advisor he had in Norm Chow. Improving his footwork will be one priority for Young, but he must also begin the process of maturing into the type of leader who takes the entire team on his shoulders rather than battling his own emotions in times of adversity.
2) Jevon Kearse. “The Freak” was absolutely giddy about his return to Tennessee, when he signed as a free agent in March. No longer an every-down defensive end, the Titans are gambling that Kearse still has enough in the tank to contribute more in a scheme that fits him than he did his final couple of years in Philadelphia.
3) Antonio Johnson/Jacob Ford. Neither of these 2007 draft picks really got out of the blocks last year because of season-ending injuries suffered in training camp. Johnson, a promising defensive tackle, will be the first to return, while Ford might take a bit longer to round into form as he is recovering from an Achilles injury. If either can contribute, it can help fortify depth on the defensive line.
4) Eugene Amano/Leroy Harris. One of these two young backups from a year ago is going to land a starting job at left guard, vacated by free agent Jacob Bell’s defection. It will be interesting to see which one gains the upper hand in the bid to become a fixture on the offensive line.
5) The wide receiver situation. No Titans position battle would be complete without mentioning the wide receivers. Other than Justin Gage, who signed an extension to remain with the club, little is certain. Roydell Williams, the other starter from a year ago, won’t take part in OTAs because he is still recovering from ankle surgery. Justin McCareins is back and hoping to regain his old form in reuniting with Heimerdinger. More importantly, the rest of the group — Brandon Jones, Biren Ealy, Mike Williams, Paul Williams and Chris Davis — will be on the spot to prove they belong on the field. And some, if not all, of that group, might also have to prove they are worthy of belonging on the roster this fall as well.