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?
The shoddy play at the safety position played a key role in the Tennessee Titans' defensive struggles in 2009. Often caught out of position and failing to provide stellar support as the last line of defense, starting safeties Chris Hope and Michael Griffin had uncharacteristically bad seasons last year.
In 2010, a better performance from the safeties would likely contribute to an overall better effort from the Titans' defense as a whole.
Will the safeties step up their games this year? The answer to that question and more...after the jump.
On Thursday, the Denver Broncos lost OLB Elvis Dumervil to a torn pectoral injury that almost certainly knocked him out of the entire 2010 season. Dumervil provided by far the better part of the Broncos' pass rushing threat in 2009, and his loss is a serious blow to a team Football Outsiders already projected to have a bad defense. The Titans have a marginally better projection than the Broncos did, but still one below average. Still, Dumervil's question got me thinking: which defensive player could the Titans least afford to lose?
In some ways, we got the answer to what happens when you lose a key player like Dumervil last season when the former #92 went to Washington and the players left were unable to hold the defense together. I don't think there's any single player whose loss would impact the defense anywhere near that badly.
Still, there were two names that to me immediately stood out as candidates for the defenders the Titans would miss the most: DT Tony Brown and CB Cortland Finnegan.
In 2008, LenDale White and Chris Johnson combined to form Smash and Dash; a running back tandem that consistently wreaked havoc. With White serving as the hammer and CJ providing his world-class speed, the Titans' rushing attack often ran over and sped past the opposition.
Of course, CJ is still in town to provide the dash in the Titans' running game, but the element of smash left the building with LenDale White's offseason departure.
With White no longer around, can rookie undrafted free agent RB LeGarrette Blount follow in his footsteps by stepping up as the Titans' designated power back?
Titans defensive tackle Tony Brown has been on the PUP list for the first four days of training camp. In tonight's practice, Brown lined up at left defensive end with the first-team defense.
Joining him on the first unit d-line were LDT Jovan Haye, RDT Sen'Derrick Marks and RDE Jacob Ford. William Hayes, the regular starter at LDE last year, was suited up, but I did not notice him in action tonight.
Brown remained at his new spot, save for the occasional rotational substitutions, throughout the evening.