Tennessee Titans 2013 Training Camp Preview: Offense
3rd year quarterback Jake Locker is close to fully recovered from his offseason shoulder surgery, running back Chris Johnson has a revamped offensive line in front of him and new offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has spent an entire offseason putting together a playbook geared towards helping Locker get the ball to his talented receiving core headlined by a 100% healthy and arrest free Kenny Britt.
On the offensive side of the football, the Titans will be a completely different unit when they take the field this fall. The team also made a few big name acquisitions. After losing Jared Cook to ex-coach Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams, the the Titans quickly swooped up free agent tight end Delanie Walker from the San Francisco 49ers. Side note: Is "Swooped" a real word? If not, i feel it should be. I've used the term an awful lot over the course of my life. I'll just keep using it and see how well it flows. Moving on. Known as the Swiss army knife, the Titans expect Walker to be a big factor in the offense. Despite the fact that he was never the guy in San Fran. He's never had more than 29 receptions in a season and last season he eclipsed his career high, yea CAREER HIGH, of 3 touchdown catches. What makes the Titans so confident in Walker? The fact that despite his least impressive measurables compared to the freakish Jared Cook, Walker is a more complete tight end, able to play multiple positions including receiver and H-Back. Oh and yes, he can block. For all the crazy statistics about his "bod", Cook was never a true threat at tight end because he simply was not a good tight end. He was a poor blocker and struggled to find holes in coverage. Walker is expected to bring veteran knowledge along with security for Locker who is expected to run a new balanced offense that will put Locker out on boot-legs and rollouts to maximize the quarterbacks skill-set.
In the draft, the Titans added Alabama guard Chance Warmack with the 8th pick. Warmack was the highest rated player in the entire draft and was a target for the team early on.
After drafting Warmack, the Titans made a bit of noise by trading their 40th pick, a 2013 seventh rounder and a 2014 3rd round pick in exchange for the 49ers 34th pick. The team used the pick to take Tennessee University wide receiver Justin Hunter. Hunter has all the physical attributes to be considered a top 10 pick ( 4.44 40yd dash, 39.5 inch vertical and a 136 inch broad jump) and prior to a knee injury in the 2011 college season he was thought to be the #1 receiver in the draft. But a disappointing 2012 season dropped Hunters stock as teams feared his knee injury may cause lingering issues. Another knock on hunter is his size. At 6'4 196 pounds, Hunter has the height of a #1 receiver, but definitely not the size. His frail stature has many scouts comparing him to Bengals wideout A.J. Green. Like Green, Hunter has the ability to simply dominate in jump ball situations but he also has the speed to take the top off a defense. A minor injury has limited Hunters participation in OTA's so if he wants to have a large role in the offense, he will have to play catch up.
Of course the Titans offensive success this year will hinge on the development of Locker. Last season was extremely disappointing as an early shoulder injury sidelined him for 5 games and when he returned he did not play like a franchise quarterback. Passing for 2,176 yards with more interceptions(11) than touchdowns(10). and a 56.4 completion percentage suggest the accuracy questions that plagued him in college may be legitimate. The Titans and Locker believe the percentage is misleading and it may be. With a 5.6% drop rate, Lockers receivers didn't necessarily provide reliability during Lockers sophomore season. But with a new playbook from a new offensive coordinator, a deeper and more talented offensive line group and a slew of receiving options. Locker has all the tools a quarterback can ask for. After finishing 22nd in the passing game and 21st in the run, the team hopes its new look offense can bring a playoff berth to Nashville for the first time since 2008.