The Tennessee Titans did a bit of an overhaul at the tight end position this offseason, allowing underachieving Ben Troupe and blue-collar Ben Hartsock to leave via free agency and replacing them with a pair of former Atlanta Falcons — Alge Crumpler and Dwayne Blakley.
In addition to that, the Titans continued to add depth and a long-term option at the position, selecting California tight end Craig Stevens in the third round of the draft.
2. Bo Scaife
3. Dwayne Blakley
4. Craig Stevens
5. Jamie Petrowski
6. Leonard Stephens
By signing Crumpler to a two-year, $5 million deal, the Titans have their most reliable tight end target since Frank Wycheck.
The former Falcons Pro Bowl star was Michael Vick’s safety valve with the Falcons and the Titans are confident he can perform the same duties for Vince Young.
Both the Titans and Crumpler appear confident that a change of scenery will be a welcome spark for Crumpler to return to the form he showed in his prime in Atlanta.
It’s not often that the biggest asset and the biggest concern are one and the same, but the Titans have to beware of the 30-year-old Crumpler’s knee situation.
So far, so good, as Crumpler has lost weight and says the knee feels better than it has in some time as he readies for his first season in Tennessee. If Crumpler can stay healthy, he can give Tennessee a nice downfield target to not only help Young, but also free up space on the outside for the wide receivers to move in.
BIGGEST CAMP BATTLE
The primary battle of training camp will be the progress of the rookie Stevens, who is being counted on as the long-term answer for the club. If he doesn’t progress quickly enough to contribute much as a rookie, the Titans have Blakley as an insurance policy to help with blocking and run game support.
Blakley was once a Titans training camp body, who actually played well enough to merit consideration for a roster spot, but was let go in favor of Troupe, who was the team’s top pick that year. Blakley is eager for another shot at making the roster, and he will battle Stevens for the third tight end job behind Crumpler and Bo Scaife.
Behind them, Petrowski is a veteran of two camps and plenty of time on the practice squad, but is again a long shot in the revamped tight end corps.
ON THE SPOT
Scaife has a good rapport and friendship with Young, dating back to their college days, and was tendered at a second-round level as a restricted free agent. That said, the former University of Texas standout needs a strong season in 2008 to warrant the Titans locking him up with a new contract rather than allowing him to explore free agency once the season is over.
Scaife had a career-high 46 receptions last year, but had just one touchdown catch.