We continue our preseason positional analysis with the offensive tackles.
For the last several years, the Titans have kept four OTs on the roster but that may change this year. It's likely they will keep an extra tight end and very possible they'll keep an extra quarterback and/or running back. A tackle, in my opinion, could lose a roster spot due to that.
Look at recent history when there were four OTs - most of Daniel Loper's playing time was at guard, not tackle. And Mike Otto was active for only one game in his first two years. So having a fourth tackle is certainly more of a luxury than a necessity.
Here's my take on the tackles currently on Tennessee's roster.
Michael Roos -- He got a lot of recognition for his selection to the Pro Bowl last year. For some reason, Roos didn't get much for his selection as a first team All-Pro.
Roos is so good, it's scary. Scarier still to think that he's still improving. He's not the outstanding athlete that his predecessor at the position, Brad Hopkins, was, but he's an outstanding technician. His forte is the ability to take away the best moves of his opponent, according to o-line coach Mike Munchak. Roos won't let the guy across from him do the things he likes to do best. That's manifested in his great accomplishment of only one sack allowed in 2008. Roos had only four penalties, all false starts, assessed against him last year.
David Stewart -- "Big Country", as he was known at Mississippi State, is turning into what his coach there predicted of him. Sylvester Croom, who is also a longtime NFL assistant coach, said Stewart would make a perfect NFL right tackle. He's getting there, garnering second team All-Pro honors in 2008.
While Stewart has a well-deserved reputation as a mauler, he's got a little of the technician in him too. Munchak said one thing Stewart does well is frustrate opponents with his hands, using them differently from one play to another. What I like best about him is his willingness to play to the whistle, finishing the play off. Not all linemen do that. Some just throw a block and are content with that. Not Stewart. He goes until the whistle. Some opponents have said he sometimes plays past the whistle but that's a hard claim to support, since he was only penalized twice last year.
Neither penalty was for a false start, which is excellent for a guy out at tackle, especially when it gets loud on the road. Like Roos, Stewart was also very good in pass protection, allowing only two sacks last year.
Mike Otto -- since he's only appeared in one game in his two-year NFL career, there's not much to say about him. Otto will face some tough competition for a roster spot this year so I'll try to watch more of him in training camp and preseason games.
Troy Kropog -- I was recently contacted by Ted Lewis, a New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter, wanting to know my thoughts on Kropog, a Louisiana native and former Tulane tackle, and on his chances of making the team.
Following are some of the thoughts which I recall mentioning to Lewis:
- I believe he has an excellent chance to make the team. It's significant that the Titans thought enough of him to use a fourth-round pick on him, especially since tackle is not a position of need with Roos and Stewart signed through 2013. In the last ten years the Titans only used a fourth-round or higher pick on an o-lineman three times and two of them, Roos and Stewart, were desperately needed to replace the departed Fred Miller and soon to be departed Brad Hopkins.
As a fourth-round pick and with the versatility to also play guard, he has more upside than Otto, his primary competition for a roster spot. I believe that ability to play both positions is one thing that made him so attractive to the Titans.
- Kropog's best chance to start may be at left guard next year, since this is the final year of Eugene Amano's contract and backup center/guard Leroy Harris will eventually replace Kevin Mawae at center.
Lewis quoted me several times in his piece but the quotes were edited out when the article was trimmed for space. If you're interested, you can read it as it appeared on nola.com here.
Predictions, please: Will the Titans keep three or four tackles? If they keep only three of them, is Otto or Kropog the third man they keep? I believe that going into camp Kropog is the favorite to be the third tackle and Otto needs to perform well enough to give the Titans a good reason to keep him. What's your opinion?