Next up on our trip around the Titans position by position as we approach the start of the 2010 season is offensive tackle.
It's been true for the past couple seasons and should be true for the next couple seasons as well: barring injury, we know who the Titans' starting left and right tackles will be, and we can have confidence that Michael Roos and David Stewart are probably going to be pretty good. The bad news is, well, that barring injury caveat.
That's not to say, though, that Roos and Stewart are quite unchanging constants. After an All-Pro type season in 2008, Roos's play clearly slipped a little in 2009. According to the Football Outsiders game charting project (majority of data by yours truly), Roos had 3.5 blown blocks leading to sacks after only 1 in 2008. Additionally, the Titans were much less productive on runs at left tackle than they had been the previous couple seasons; without a better breakdown of actual blocking and plays run to that side, I can't say how much #71 is responsible for that number, so I'll just note it at something to look at this year.
On the other side, Stewart had clearly the best year of his career. He had a particularly good year as a pass protector, eliminating the weakness against the outside speed rush that had plagued him at times in the past, and the Titans' performance on runs at right tackle and right end finally matched Stewart's reputation as a mauler at run blocking (credit, too, to Alge Crumpler for those numbers). He probably won't be quite that good in 2009, but should again be pretty reliable.
Leroy Harris was kind of the backup tackle in 2009, as he was pressed into action for the game at San Francisco when Stewart was out. Since he's been a center or guard since his prep days all the time before and since that game, I'm going to agree with what Andrew wrote in the offseason tackles preview that that doesn't say big things about Mike Otto's long-term future. He's currently listed as Roos's backup on the left side on the unofficial depth chart on the official site, but he was also listed as Stewart's backup on the unofficial depth chart on the official press release for the San Francisco game, too. I doubt I'll be predicting his roster spot is in jeopardy, but it might be.
Troy Kropog is the other backup at tackle, and spent time last training camp playing on both sides. He's currently listed as Stewart's backup at right tackle. He was only active in the San Francisco game as a rookie and only saw the field on special teams in that contest, so he's demonstrated squat at the NFL level. He's also listed as a guard on the roster, so maybe he'll play inside. Then again, that may be Otto's job.
The Titans did not add any offensive tackles in free agency or the draft. Undrafted free agents Nevin McCaskill and Nick Howell are the other offensive tackles on the roster and are almost certainly only camp fodder.
Aside from those questions at depth, though, offensive tackle is a position of strength for the Titans this year and should be for the four years after this one Roos and Stewart are still under contract for, too. Man, I love writing that.