The winds of change that were alluded to in our most recent analysis of the DE position predictably blossomed into fruition.
Jason Babin and Jacob Ford were casualties to the Titans' new emphasis on more girth at the spot. Also mentioned in the prior DE piece was the possibility of Jason Jones moving from DT to DE, which has also become a reality. Last but not least, Jim Washburn's fiery presence as the team's DL coach has been replaced by Tracy Rocker.
Will change usher in positive results for the Titans at the DE position in 2011?
Heading into his fourth NFL season, Jason Jones has displayed flashes of being a pretty solid player in this league. However, the injury bug keeps rearing its ugly head, which up to this point, has prevented the talented defensive lineman from reaching his full potential.
With the aforementioned position change, Jones will be expected to provide the team with a much-needed pass-rushing presence on the exterior. He's certainly capable of getting after the quarterback regardless of where he lines up but his biggest battle will not come from an opposing offensive lineman; instead, his toughest foe is avoiding the nagging injuries that seem to force him from playing in a few games on an annual basis.
If healthy, Jones should have a pretty solid year but considering his history, that's quite a big IF, unfortunately.
Speaking of injuries, Derrick Morgan's knee is certainly one body part we'll be focusing on alot in 2011. The bothersome joint ended his once-promising rookie campaign prematurely and most recently, will cause him to miss at least the team's season-opener.
I think I speak for all us when I wish Morgan a speedy recovery because he's a talented player who's more than capable of leading the team in sacks if his knee is able to hold up.
Maybe we'll see a few more big plays from William Hayes in 2011.
Entering his 4th NFL season, Hayes has been a steady performer, serving as a part of the team's defensive line rotation. With the departure of the likes of Babin and Ford and Morgan's troublesome knee, Hayes will have the opportunity of more playing time in front of him that he will hopefully seize.
Speaking of steady performers, former journeyman Dave Ball continues to be a solid presence for the Titans at the defensive end position. I'm expecting him to continue to be an adequate reserve while notching about four or five sacks in 2011.
Although he's listed as a DT, Malcom Sheppard will also fill in at the DE position if he's able to keep his surprising spot on the team's 53-man roster. Pannel Egboh turned a few heads while making some plays during the preseason and for now, he'll serve duty on the practice-squad.
Any thoughts on how the Titans stack up at DE? Will Jim Washburn be missed? As usual, feel free to provide your always welcomed commentary in the space below.