These are Nick's feelings about Ruud, after the jump.
These are Nick's feelings about Ruud, after the jump.
|New DT Shaun Smith is a very large man.|
New d-line coach Tracy Rocker walked down to the d-line area and was joined briefly by new DC Jerry Gray. Rocker also chatted a little with Bruce Matthews, who was preparing the nearby o-line practice area. Although I wasn't able to see him up close, Bruce looked pretty good. I'll have to watch him and his troops in the next few days.
After the usual stretching, practice began with special teams work, with Marc Mariani, Damian Williams, Yamon Figurs and rookie James Kirkendall fielding punts. Figurs muffed one chance.
When the players broke up into position groups, I got to see Shaun Smith. The Titans haven't had a man this large since Fat Albert was here and I've got to say Smith is pretty darn close to Albert's "normal" size, although not nearly as large as Albert got to be at times.
Graham was a first-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2002 and spent the first five years of his career there before spending the last four years with the Broncos. He has a reputation as one of the league's better blocking tight ends, which is good because he isn't much of a receiver. He had 18 catches last year for 148 yards with no touchdowns, and finished last by a sizable margin in Football Outsiders' tight end statistical rankings.
If you're thinking this sounds a lot like Alge Crumpler v. 2.0, you're pretty much on the mark. Graham wasn't as much of a receiver as Alge was early in his career, and I don't think his knees are quite as creaky. Still, he's primarily a very good blocker who should and likely will have a minimal role as a receiver. It'll be interesting to see how much playiing time he gets and how much goes to Craig Stevens, who offers a similar skillset. Graham told Josina Anderson he wanted a place where he felt like he could compete for a starting job.
What do you think of this signing? Happy to get a veteran at tight end? Wish they'd pursued less of a pure blocker?
Ruud spent the first six year of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being drafted in the second round out of Nebraska. He was the Bucs' starter at middle linebacker for the past four seasons, posting over 100 tackles each season because that's the kind of thing middle linebackers do in many defenses. He may not have quite as many tackles as Stephen Tulloch, but is very assignment-sound and should be a big upgrade in coverage.
For more on Ruud's abilities, see this post and this one by former Bucs DE Steve White (twitter). With only a one-year deal, the Titans probably see this year's draft pick Colin McCarthy as the middle linebacker of the future, but Ruud's signing seems to continue the defensive makeover from an aggressive one-gap scheme to more two-gap defensive line play in front of linebackers playing more read-and-react.
What do you think of this signing? Happy to see the Titans should improve in coverage? Already missing Stephen Tulloch?
A fourth-round pick in 2007, Harris played intermittently for his first three seasons before starting 15 games in 2010 at left guard. He'll presumably remain the starter at left guard with Eugene Amano at center. The Titans struggled the run the ball up the middle last year, but no more than they had in 2009 when Amano was playing left guard and they had Kevin Mawae at center.
Mike Munchak expressed confidence in his former direct charges, so the Titans retaining Harris is no surprise. Mike Reinfeldt indicated at Friday's press conference the Titans had been talking to Harris, but hadn't yet come to a mutual agreement on Harris's market value. Financial terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. A contract of only two years likely indicates a short-term compromise solution between what the Titans thought Harris was worth and what Harris thought he was worth, especially after seeing other guards (Harvey Dahl, Davin Joseph) earn big long-term deals earlier this week.
What do you think of this move? Disappointed the Titans didn't make a bigger splash? Want to know what the Titans are seeing that wasn't reflected in the 2010 level of play? Happy the offensive line retain its continuity?
With the NFL offseason finally in full swing thanks to the end of the NFL lockout, it's been a pretty hectic week for the Tennessee Titans.
While the Titans have been making their share of moves, other NFL teams have been equally busy, as they hustle and bustle in preparation for the upcoming season.
Familiar faces have surprisingly hit the unemployment lines as they search for new NFL cities to call their homes. Ex-Titans such as Derrick Mason, Jacob Bell, Antwan Odom and Alge Crumpler are now ripe for the taking as they look to continue their careers in new venues.
Are any of the newly-released former Titans worthy of a reunion in Tennessee?
Smith is a big guy, 6' 2" and 325 pounds, who has played both left and right defensive end in 3-4 defenses and defensive tackle in a 4-3. His size and versatility make it seem like he'll be a good fit for the Titans' new scheme. 30 of his 37 career starts have been as a 3-4 DE.
Smith is a journeyman who will be 30 years old next month. His previous 7 NFL seasons include stints with the Chiefs, Browns, Bengals and Saints.
Wyatt also tweeted that Smith has some baggage, reportedly punching Brady Quinn in the face while they were teammates in Cleveland. Smith is perhaps better known for allegedly grabbing the testicles of other players in pileups.
He sounds like a space eating run stuffer with a nasty streak.