Although he's been unable to practice since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, David Thornton is still listed as a starter on the Titans' depth chart. That unofficial listing is due no doubt to his status as an eight-year veteran who has been the regular starter for four seasons at strongside linebacker, when healthy. Unfortunately, Thornton hasn't been healthy often enough.
Even before his latest setback, which began in Week 9 of last season, there was speculation that Thornton might not remain a Titan this year because of:
1) his age (32 in November)
2) his salary ($4.35M base this season)
3) his durability issues (only one complete season in four years with the Titans)
4) and later on, his heir apparent's (Gerald McRath) perceived readiness to become the starter
We've seen many instances where only one of the above reasons was enough for the Titans to part ways with a player so McRath's pending four-game suspension gives Thornton a new lease on life in Tennessee. Assuming he'll be physically ready and able to play in September, of course.
Thornton said he "expects" to be ready for training camp, which should open late next month. I sure hope that expectation comes to fruition because I don't like any of the remaining options for the first four games of the season.
I've got to say I'm not optimistic. If Thornton can't practice now, without pads, how will he fare when they put them on? It reminds me of Kevin Mawae's arm injury which caused him to miss most of camp last year.
In training camp, I always like to focus on new players and those coming off injuries so Thornton will be one guy I'll be paying particular attention to. If he's able to practice.
There is one good thing about the situation. It's not necessary for Thornton to be healthy enough to play a full season, but he is especially needed the first four games. Those four games are Oakland (5-11 last year), Pittsburgh (9-7), at the New York Giants (8-8), and Denver (8-8).
Get well, DT. The Titans need you.