Preseason: Titans 14 Vikings 3

This was a good first test for the Titans. The Vikings have several new players they wanted to see and showcase. QB Donovan McNabb was brought in to fill a hole for the Vikings, and was mentioned in several circles about a possible fit here in Tennessee. However, the star of the night has to be the rookie QB for Tennessee. Jake Locker went 7 for 10 for 89 yards and 1 TD, gave hope to all who believe, and turned the heads of all those that doubted.


The 1st string offense moved the ball well, but failed to score. There is still some work to do there, but you can't discount the fact that Matt Hasselbeck is a brand new element to this offense and Chris Johnson is still a holdout. The fumble on the Titans first drive was a mistake that is easily fixable with time together. 

Jake Locker looks significantly more accurate than the scouting reports and media would have you believe. He had 70% accuracy for the night, worked well under pressure, and carried himself in a confident manor with poise. When he was sacked, he pulled himself up and carried on with the next play. When he fumbled the snap, he picked it up and threw a TD pass. This guy has shown that he is more than just a good athlete. 

The RB position is definitely missing something without Chris Johnson, but Ringer, Stefon Johnson, and Harper had very good nights. Ringer would have had a much better night, but penalties called back at least one of his runs. I would like to see Harper hit the hole faster, and actually initiate contact with a DB. I also want Stefon Johnson to take this opportunity to showcase what he can do, and that his freak injuries were only a speed bump in his career.

The WR's had a good night. Hawkins is showing that he is willing to go get the ball. Damien Williams is still progressing nicely, and I wish he was higher on the depth chart. Kenny Britt didn't get on the field in training camp early enough to get into game day shape, and is still nursing an injury, so he is someone we hope to look forward to having a great year. The only WR that I am concerned with is Justin Gage. He is playing like someone who is not going to be on the team at the end of camp.

Other than Locker, the bright spot of the night in my eyes was the offensive line. The starters showed some real cohesion and the backups filled in nicely. I will say there was one blip when Kropog allowed a clean sack of Locker.


Another surprise of the night was the defensive line. Derrick Morgan looked good and had a sack on the night. Both rookie Zach Clayton and rookie Karl Klug looked like they belonged in the rotation (more so of Klug). Obviously this group needs more time together, but all signs show many sacks are in their future.

The linebackers and DBs are where there is a real battle for field time. Obviously Finnegan, Griffin, and Ruud are starters, but I can see all the rest of the positions open for debate. Yes, Ayers and Hope are both probably going to start, but Ayers is a rookie and Hope is getting pressure from both free agents and rookies. The other linebacking job is a battle between Witherspoon and McRath, and the other DB roles are also in similar battles. It's going to be fun to see how they all shake out. I will say that the rookies and backup DBs were the weakest part of our game, but there is plenty of time to gel in that area.

Special Teams

Kern and Mariani still looked like they are ready for the season. I am a little nervous that that the only FG attempt from Bironas was wide left. I hope that is just an anomaly. I think punt and kick coverage need work, but there are numerous rookies hoping to make the team and this is there opportunity to make an impact.


I thought this was a good effort. There are obvious things that need work, but I believe that some of our questions were answered in this game.


2011 Draft Class - My Thoughts - 6th and 7th Rounds

6th Round - Pick #175

OT Byron Stingily - Louisville

Stingily is a hoss of player. He is 6' 5" and 315 lbs., but is as raw as they come. He was undersized (believe it or not) out of high school, but added 65 lbs. in his two years at Joliet Junior College. If anyone is going to bring him around, it will be the Titans. With 2 offensive line Hall of Famers on the staff, this should be good to watch. If he doesn't cut it in training camp, then you most likely won't see him on any other NFL squad. If they can "coach him up", he might be a really good one. He has good feet and good athletic ability, so they do have something to work with. Something else to note is that he played defensive end in high school, and that might give him a little insight into the thought processes of the players lining up against him.


Size - Holy moly this guy is huge. He is Michael Oher huge. This is an intangible you can't teach and is a good thing to have in that position.

Feet - Moves his feet well and smoothly. Is able to keep leverage and doens't get out of position often.

Nastiness - Has that special thing that you like to see out of your blind side tackle. Just enough nasty to mentally distract the defensive lineman. There is nothing like getting into someone's head on the first series and taking them out of their game.


Hands - He has poor hand techniques and allows a defender into his body too often.

Mental - Loses the snap count; trouble keeping his head in the game.

Run blocking - His techniques need a lot of work in sealing off the lane for the run.


This guy is a project, but was definitely worth a look in the 6th round. Both "Big Country" and Roos are definite starters, but it is not too early to look into the next generation of players. He might be just another casualty of late round drafting, but then again he could be that diamond in the rough we need on the line for CJ and Locker to have long careers.

7th Round - Pick #212

DT Zach Clayton - Auburn

At 6' 2" and 299 lbs., he fits the size we need. I found an article on this guy listed as "The Best NFL Draft Prospect You Have Yet To Hear About". That's a good sign from someone in the 7th round. He was Nick Fairly's right hand man at Auburn, and won defensive player of the year in 2010. He is clearly quick, strong, and explosive as demonstrated in his pro day workout. He has high praise from NFL Scouts, NFL Coaches, and his own head coach at Auburn. He has a high motor and chases people down the field, whereas some ex-Titans DT's have been seen laying on the field.


Hustle - Great hustle and motor for an interior lineman, which is usually indicative of a good work ethic.

"No Surrender" - Always moving forward, whether sideline-to-sideline, up the field against the pass, or tracking down a offensive player down the field.

Tough - Gets low at the point of attack and maintains the line of scrimmage in a short yardage situation.


Strength - Only average strength for the position. A veteran center will win this battle against him.

Not a playmaker - He doesn't make the huge play you need when it counts, and only makes the tackle in the backfield when he can utilize his speed to shoot the gap.

Small arms/hands - This is something you can alter, and he will have a difficult time overcoming this


He would be a great fit into the rotation, and it would be nice to have his quickness be utilized on plays where he can shoot the gap and disrupt a play. I can't help shake this thought in the back of my mind that he might have been overlooked because everyone was so enamored with Nick Fairly. I can only hope so.

7th Round - Pick #251

DB Tommie Campbell - California (PA)

Campbell has unusual height for the position (6' 3"), which is a real asset when it comes to covering the taller wide outs. He also is one of the older player in the draft at 23, which sounds crazy to say at my age. On top of having the height we lack at the position, he has excellent speed (running 4.31 and 4.33 for the 40 in his post-season workout). In college he started 4 games at CB, but is expected to compete for a safety position on the Titans. 

This guy is kind of a mystery. There isn't much out there to talk about. So, I have very little to go on.


Speed - This guy has the speed to start at CB, but is converted from a linebacker position, so he has the hitting power you expect at the position.

Height - Something you can't coach, and we desperately need in the defensive backfield.

Working off a second chance - It's strange to say that so early in someone's career, but he has already had his second chance and most of the time that means extra effort.


Commitment - This is more of a guess from what I have read. He flunked out of Pittsburg, and just didn't go to class at Edinboro. This resulted in his expulsion. I'm not sure if this was a lack of commitment, lack of motivation, or some other factor on which we can only speculate.

Unknown - You don't know what or how much you can expect from him. Some players you push harder because you know they have more to give, but with Campbell that is a real mystery.



2011 Draft Class - My Thoughts - 5th Round

5th Round - Pick #142

DL Karl Klug - Iowa

Klug was yet another pick on the defensive side of the ball. He is 6' 3" and 275 lbs, which seems a little light for playing on the interior of the line. However, at Iowa, he had 140 tackles, 31 of which were for a loss, and 9.5 sacks. At Iowa he played defensive tackle, but he might need to bulk up a little to fit in there for the NFL. He once played RB, so it might be tough for him to put on 10 to 15 pounds to gain the padding he needs to take the pounding.

Experts are saying that he has already reached his peek, but I find it tough to imagine someone that has continued to produce can be written off so easily. You may not hear his name among the NFL leaders in sacks or tackles, but that doens't mean he can't be productive. If he puts in the work, he could eaily supplant some of the other players on the defensive line who are always on the bubble.


Explosive - The only thing he kept from his time as a running back was his explosive first step. Whether he is kept as a defensive tackle, moved to the end, or playing situational downs at both positions, his motor could disrupt running plays, and draw attention away from a true pass rusher on passing downs (thus freeing him up).

Good Technique - Gets into his stance and explodes off the snap. He uses his arms violently to gain leverage and then locates the ball. Plays well away from the ball.

Intensity - He has the "want to" in getting to the ball. His intensity and desire combined give him the extra edge on every play.


Lacks size - Needs more bulk for the interior. He cannot hold his ground against a double team from a strong guard and center combination.

Lacks strength - This is obviously fixable, but as of now lacks the massive strength needed to play interior line.

Tackling Trouble - Has trouble bringing down the more elusive backs. Doesn't break down quick enough to make the tackle.


My initial thoughts were that Klug will not make the cut, but the Titans defensive line needs help. If he is willing to put in the extra work to perfect his technique and utilize his positives, he might just make the team as a situational player. However, my suggestion if this happens is for him to invest his money. I don't believe he will be in the league long enough to get the big payday.



2011 Draft Class - My Thoughts - 4th Round

4th Round - Pick #109

LB Colin McCarthy - Miami

McCarthy was our first of two picks in the 4th round, and at 6' 1" 238 lbs he fits the stereotypical mold. He has played both strong outside linebacker and middle linebacker at Miami (switching to MLB during his senior season). During his stay at Miami, he had 308 tackles (34 for losses). He was also known as a hard hitter.

McCarthy seems like a carbon copy of another middle linebacker we had, Ryan Fowler. Although Fowler was 2 inches taller and about 10 pounds heavier, in my eyes his playing style is very similar. This might lead to a faster starting role, but might also mean that he doesn't have real lasting potential at the position.


Quickness - Has the quickness and foot speed to cover the TE over long middle routes. 

Smart - He is rarely out of position and knows where he is required to be. He is not easily fooled on misdirection and counters.

Run Stuffer - He sheds the block and fills the hole well. He is a sure tackler, especially in the open field.


Over pursuit - One of his strengths (aggressive nature) can lead to shooting the gap and being kept out of the play by over playing it.

Durability - He missed most of the 2008 season due to a shoulder injury. This might be the biggest concern for the Titans, especially on an already weak linebacking corp.

No "WOW" factor - He has a good core of fundamentals, but has a low ceiling of potential. We may have already seen the best out of McCarthy.


McCarthy will most likely be a special teams player with the potential to play one or two seasons as a starting LB. He seems more of a stop-gap at the position until we find a long-term solution. If he stays healthy we might see a flash or two of the positives.

4th Round - Pick #130

RB Jamie Harper - Clemson

Harper is a legitimate home run hitter. During his college career he had 1,311 yards on 311 carries and 12 touchdowns. He also had 50 catches for 398 yards and 3 touchdowns. He elected to forego his senior season for the draft.

At 5' 11" 233 lbs, he has decent speed for his size. In a backfield in true need for a real compliment to CJ, he has the chance to jump in and make a difference.



Great Feet - He has quick feet and can make the cuts in open field to earn precious extra yards. He keeps his feet moving in the pile.

Great Hands - Has the hands to be a true option out of the backfield, and with his ability to make the cuts can turn a simple screen pass into a long play.

High Potential - Rated very high coming out of high school, and keeps improving. Has the ability to be a star back in the right system.


Vision - Misses open holes and runs into his line on occasion. This causes him to dance too much and not just explode through the hold.

Underachiever - He has a tendency to fall short of his potential. Plays big against bad teams, but struggles during crunch time.

Never "The Man" - He never carried the full load, and is a true unknown if asked to do so.


He could fit right in as a 3rd down back, as long as CJ stays healthy. However, even though he hasn't been asked to carry the load before, that doesn't mean he can't. At the same time, is this something we want to find out at this level? Let's see what he can do, but hold on to other options just in case.


2011 Draft Class - My Thoughts - 3rd Round

3rd Round - Pick #77

DL Jurrell Casey - USC

Casey is a young talent. He skipped his senior season at USC to enter the draft, but still has some impressive numbers for his time there. At 6' 1" 300 lbs, he has the size to be that run stuffer we have missed since Albert Haynesworth. He started 26 of his 38 games at USC. Among his stats are 138 tackles, 9 sacks, 22 stops for losses, had 3 forced fumbles, and recovered 4.

Casey is going to be yet another cog in the system that is our defensive line rotation. If he plays anywhere close to as big as his size he will free up our speedy DE's and LB's to put pressure on the opposing QB's. What he lacks in agility, he more than makes up for in sheer strength and bulk. He could use some "coaching up", but could have had 1st round draft potential if this class weren't so top-heavy with A+ talent. However, he still graded out as a 2nd round pick. I believe the Titans may have gotten a steal in Casey.


Strength - He is stout and can push the pocket to disrupt the play. His wide base and solid techniques will help against the run.

Solid tackler - This has been an area of concern both Lindsey and I have expressed, and he brings a solid foundation to build upon when tackling the runner.

Durability - Playing nose tackle and the interior of any defensive line tests any athlete, but he only missed one game. In the interior of our defensive line is where we have had the biggest problem keeping people healthy. It would be great to really count on a player to be there game in and game out.


Lacks height for the position - Strange to say that 6' 1" is small, but he is just short of the desired height to really disrupt some of the taller QB's in the league.

Relys too much on his quickness - He's not fast, but is quick off the ball. Sounds like a positive doesn't it? However, that can lead to him being taken out of a play by a savvy OL. 

Struggles in locating the ball - He gets caught out of position because he overpursues or misidentifies who has the ball.


With the exception of his height, he can be coached out of all of his negatives. That being said, he will need to show the work ethic and intensity to move himself to the next level. He could be exactly what we needed in the defensive line; solid, disruptive, and constant. However, he could turn out to be just part of the rotation without any real potential met.