D-Line Looking To Improve in 2017
The Tennessee Titans d-line as a group are looking for improvement in 2017.
Jurrell Casey spoke of the work he and his mates on the line want to do during the team’s recent mini-camp. On thing in particular stood out.
“We’re focused as a defense on creating more turnovers,” said Casey.
The Titans defense as a whole collected just 12 interceptions and four fumble recoveries last season. Numbers that must go up for this team to take another step forward this year.
Those numbers allowed the Titans to finish 18th in the NFL last season in interceptions and 27th in percentage of drives ending in a turnover according to Pro Football Reference.
In 2016 they were 1-3 when they created zero turnovers. They were 8-4 when they generated at least one turnover and 4-1 when they had two or more.
Defensive end: Jurrell Casey, a Pro-Bowler for the second consecutive season in 2016 is the leader up front on defense. He will likely draw extra attention from opposing offenses this season, meaning other must step up their production around him.
Nose Tackle: Sylvester Williams joined the Titans as a free agent from Denver. He is a former first round draft pick who was solid but unspectacular during his time with the Broncos.
He brings a Super Bowl ring and invaluable playoff experience to the Titans defense.
Defensive end: Austin Johnson, a second selection by the Titans in the 2016 draft, Johnson came on late in his rookie campaign and seems poised to step into a starting role this season.
Johnson is also versatile and can slide inside and play nose in certain sets.
Backups On The D-Line
Defensive End: DaQuan Jones slides into a backup role behind Casey and his friend and former Penn State teammate Johnson. Jones came on late last season and is a solid defender and could be a starter as well.
Nose tackle: Antwaun Woods joins fellow former USC Trojan Casey on the d-line and has been compared to Casey for his size and physical ability. He along with Johnson will back up Williams in the middle.
Defensive end: Karl Klug returns from injury and missed the entire off season program. There is a chance he could start on the PUP list, but the thought is he will be ready for the start of camp.
Klug must prove he is healed and has his speed to be able to remain on the roster. A tireless worker and effort player, Klug should be tough to force off this roster.
Defensive line: Angelo Blackson also brings versatility to the d-line with the ability to play end and nose. He feel somewhat out of favor late last season, but should be able to hold off the rest of the d-line candidates for the final roster spot.
The Titans will likely keep two defensive linemen on the 10-man practice squad roster.
Former MTSU standout Jimmy Staten and Medhi Abdesmad lead in the battle for the practice squad at this point.
Staten has spent time bouncing around the league, while Abdesmad was a late season addition to the Titans active roster off their practice squad.