The issues surrounding the Tennessee Titans' special teams return units in 2009 are well-documented. Failing to replace Chris Carr's 2008 production, a combination of rookies and veterans failed miserably as the team struggled mightily on returns last year.
Third-rounder Damian Williams was selected in the draft to serve as the team's designated punt/kick return specialist but unfortunately, a lingering hamstring injury has sidelined him through OTAs and training camp.
With the start of the preseason looming on the horizon, should we be concerned with the Titans' state of affairs at PR/KR?
For a second consecutive season, the injury bug has hindered the Titans' "chosen one" at PR/KR. Last year, it was free agent acquisition Mark Jones who failed to make his mark (pun intended) due to injuries.
This year, it's Damian Williams and his inability thus far to overcome a bum hammy. According to reports, his condition is trending in the right direction, as he should be ready to return to practice within the next few days. Of course, hamstrings can be tricky, so the team is naturally going to be very cautious regarding his return to the field.
In his absence, fellow rookies Marc Mariani and Bobby Sewall have been sharing the reps in practice with veteran Alvin Pearman. Last year, Pearman failed to get the job done on returns, so I'm not too enthused about his prospects of being the guy at PR/KR. Mariani is an interesting player and I'm sure we'll see what he is capable of as the preseason unfolds. Sewall has sub-4.4 speed, but is an unknown at this point.
Recently, the Titans have displayed an interest in signing Leroy Vann, a dynamic returner at Florida A&M who was just released by San Francisco. Vann is a player that I mentioned as a possible candidate in a pre-draft article regarding PR/KR draft options.
Hopefully, one of the aforementioned rookies will be able to get the job done. Of course, history could also repeat itself with last year serving as an indication of the perils associated with relying upon rookies at the position.
What are your thoughts, guys? Is it time to press the panic button regarding the Titans' predicament at PR/KR?