Last season, the offensive line was one of the team’s major strengths.
Along with a resurgent defensive line, the offensive line was one of the big reasons the Titans finished 10-6 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
That said, the line has undergone some major changes at both guard positions with the retirement of stalwart Benji Olson on the right side and the defection of free agent Jacob Bell on the left.
LT — Michael Roos, Daniel Loper, Mike Otto
LG — Eugene Amano, Leroy Harris, Isaac Snell
C — Kevin Mawae, Leroy Harris, Eugene Amano, Jason Murphy, Enoka Lucas, Eric Scott
RG — Jake Scott, Daniel Loper, Mike Otto, Fernando Velasco
RT— David Stewart, Daniel Loper, Mike Otto, Brock Pasteur
Michael Roos returns on the left side of the offensive line, armed with a new six-year, $43 million contract to keep him protecting Vince Young’s blind side for the foreseeable future.
Roos, a second-round pick in 2005, has started 48 consecutive games and is just now coming into his own among the top offensive linemen in the league. The Titans are optimistic he can crack the Pro Bowl rotation over the next few seasons.
On the other side, David Stewart is a product of that same draft and is the type of brawler the Titans like on the right side of the line. Stewart, too, is in line for a big payday at some point in the near future as the Titans hope to use the bookend tackles to maintain the strength of this unit over the next several years.
With Olson and Bell both gone, the Titans moved in free agency to sign Jake Scott away from rival Indianapolis. Scott will inherit the spot Olson held on the right side for the past nine seasons as a starter. On the other side of the line, last year’s backups Eugene Amano and Leroy Harris will vie for Bell’s old spot on the left.
The concern here is not that Scott plus Amano or Harris won’t get the job done, but simply how long it will take for them to jell with the remainder of the unit into one that was as cohesive as the 2007 group.
Fortunately at center, veteran Kevin Mawae remains the leader. And though he might be entering the twilight of his successful career, Mawae remains the man the rest of the line will take its cue from.
Even depth-wise, the Titans appear OK, as Daniel Loper and Amano were forced into action late last season and acquitted themselves well when called upon.
BIGGEST CAMP BATTLE
This one is easy. It will be the race between Amano and second-year man Leroy Harris to see who becomes the new left guard. Some appear to have given Amano, the top interior backup over the past two seasons, the upper hand already. But that isn’t necessarily the case, as Harris is a player drafted in the fourth-round in 2007 who has major upside and could, like Stewart before him, make a major jump in his second season to perhaps win the job.
Whoever wins the role, the Titans should be fine, as the other will be the top interior backup and provide depth at both guard spots and for Mawae at center.
ON THE SPOT
Roos is one of the quiet guys who does his job in solid and sometimes anonymous fashion. However, those days are probably at an end as he has signed the new contract, making him one of the top-paid offensive tackles in the NFL.
With that comes added responsibility, and though it might not happen this season, with that type of contract eventually comes the unofficial title of leader of the group, something that would appear to be Roos’ for the taking after Mawae eventually retires.