5 Tennessee Titans That Need To Pick It Up
This season will be one of the most important campaigns in recent history for the Tennessee Titans, for more than one reason. They wil be playing for coach Mike Munchak's job, for Jake Locker's job and possibly for many others'. In many minds, this is a make or break year for the Titans. So far, they have gotten off to a nice little start. Their first team offense looked much, much better during the first half against the Washington Redskins last week compared to last season. Then again, it is only pre season. Nevertheless, strides are being made.
Despite those strides, there are still a handful of players that need to pick it up in order for the Tennessee Titans to get where they need to be. Here is the top-5 of that said list:
Jake Locker – There’s no question that this is a make-or-break year for the 25-year-old quarterback from Washington. The front office has surrounded him with, what they think, is enough of an offensive arsenal to get things done. They re-vamped the offensive line, added Shonn Greene, paid Nate Washington and drafted Justin Hunter. The Titans quarterback should be in position to make some noise in the AFC South. However, he didn’t have the bests of pre season debuts, going 7 for 11 on 58 yards – most of his completions came off dinks and dunks. Couple that with a horrendous practice he had earlier this week (throwing three interceptions) and it’s safe to say Locker needs to step it up. Many eyes will be on Locker when his Titans face the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night. Yours should be too.
Tommie Campbell – In the offseason, behind closed doors, the Titans were raving about defensive back Tommie Campbell. My, have times have changed. The fact that Alterraun Verner is listed as the starting corner back, opposite of Jason McCourty basically means that Campbell isn’t doing what he was once expected to do. Translation: he’s underperforming. The reason why it was believed that Verner was going to be the odd man out of the rotation at corner was because Campbell was hot coming into training camp. Not anymore. However, he may get one more chance to impress the coaching staff. He is expected to start – or at least get some snaps with the ones – against the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday. He has to step it up. Now.
Justin Hunter – The size, the speed and expectations are all there for the rookie out of Tennessee. He’s not asked to be a number one receiver, not even the number two receiver. All he’s expected to do is to produce – something that Titans receivers struggled to do all of last season (no 1,000+ yard receiver in 2012). Word out of camp is that Hunter’s inconsistent hands and lackadaisical approach is frustrating coaches. The bright side is that the Titans don’t necessarily “need” Hunter to be a star this year. The have time and are going to need it with Hunter. Patience.
Colin McCarthy – McCarthy’s situation has a little more to do with unfortunate circumstances, rather that his performance on the field. However, McCarthy’s fall from grace is quite disappointing. This time a hamstring injury is keeping him off the field; it has allowed Moise Fokou to establish himself as the potential starting middle linebacker. Unless McCarthy can bounce back, within the next week, it appears his chance at beginning the season as a starter has flown out the door. Coach Mike Munchak says he still has time to win the starting job but time is a factor right now, and it's not on McCarthy’s side.
Craig Stevens -- Delanie Walker is supposed to be the versatile TE/FB, but with him still trying to recover from arthroscpic knee surgery, someone needs to step in to carry the load. Per the depth chart, that person is Craig Stevens. It's not a matter of Stevens not performing well enough, it's just that -- now that Walker is injured -- he needs to do more. Last season, Stevens played in 15 games while recording 23 catches for 275 yards and a one score. If Walker is going to miss an extended time, dipping into the regular season, the Titans will be forced to rely on Stevens. The 6-foot-3-inch, 263-pounder set career-bests in catches and receiving yards in 2012. He will need to surpass those marks again in 2013. If the Titans are successful early in the season, and need to play a few games without Walker at 100 percent, he has to.