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2015 Team Report: Tennessee Titans

Quarterbacks

Starter: Marcus Mariota [R]
Backup(s): Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst

Starting QB: After an off-season of trade speculation, the Titans surprised everyone by making Marcus Mariota their franchise quarterback. Opinion is split on how Mariota's skill set will translate to the NFL game, but there's no doubt that he should be an upgrade over the carousel of signal callers that the Titans had under center last season. In Oregon's offense, Mariota was hugely productive. While that production obviously won't translate immediately to the professional level, Ken Whisenhunt has already talked about adapting to his skill set to incorporate more aspects of the system he is used to. Part of this should focus on incorporating Mariota's rushing ability. Mariota is exceptionally fast, and even though he's not a particularly creative scrambler, he was able to accumulate 2,237 yards and 29 touchdowns on 337 carries over three years in college. Using Mariota's legs to set up passing plays and to scramble downfield should allow him to be immediately productive, while Kendall Wright and Dexter McCluster offer obvious options for easy passing yards on screen plays.

Backup QB: Zach Mettenberger is being discussed as a potential trade piece for other teams to acquire. While he has shown flashes of his talent both in the preseason and during the regular season last year, it doesn't make much sense for a team to acquire him after training camp. Mettenberger is most likely going to remain Mariota's backup for the season. Charlie Whitehurst remains as a third option. Whitehurst shouldn't challenge Mettenberger for his spot as the primary backup.

Running Backs

Starter: Bishop Sankey
Backup(s): Antonio Andrews, Dexter McCluster, Terrance West, David Cobb [R],
Fullback(s): Jalston Fowler [R]

Starting RB: It's hard to commit to any running back on the Titans roster as an obvious starter, but as the incumbent, Bishop Sankey entered training camp as the starter. He was the first running back taken in the 2014 NFL draft, but failed to impress as a rookie. The Titans coaching staff repeatedly discussed his footwork issues early during his rookie season when he was mostly kept on the sideline. Sankey has the lead on his competitors for the starting spot because he is the most well-rounded back on the roster.

Backup RBs: By drafting David Cobb in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, the Titans created plenty of ambiguity in their backfield. The roster cut day trade to acquire Terrance West also further clouds the running back waters in the Tennessee backfield. Antonio Andrews was one of the early standouts in training camp and the preseason, but he faces an uphill battle for playing time. Andrews must prove that he can take care of the football, something that was an issue for him in college. Dexter McCluster is locked in as the team's third down back.Cobb, West or Andrews could all conceivably take over the starting role for the Titans, but it's looking more and more like a committee approach that puts Sankey at the forefront. Whoever becomes the lead back must also prove that he can be trusted in pass protection.

Fullback: Jalston Fowler was a fascinating pick for the Titans in the 2015 draft. With Marcus Mariota at quarterback, the need for a fullback appeared to be non-existent. Yet, Fowler was still selected in the fourth round, ahead of David Cobb. His versatile skill set should allow him to be used in different ways from the fullback position or even play as a running back for stretches. When the Titans released Shonn Greene, Fowler's potential to be the short-yardage back grew.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter
Backups: Dorial Green-Beckham [R]

Starting WRs: Kendall Wright's production dropped severely last season as the Titans quarterback issues limited his opportunities on the field. He caught just 57 passes for 715 yards and six touchdowns after catching 94 for 1,079 and two touchdowns the previous season. Mariota is the type of quarterback who should make Wright a high volume receiver again in 2015. Justin Hunter's career took a major step back during his second season. His unreliable hands and poor route running too often made it easy on defenders. Hakeem Nicks looked set to take over the starting spot in Tennessee, but was a surprise cut after playing as the starter through training camp and the preseason. Harry Douglas had a good season for the Atlanta Falcons last year and should be the favorite for the third spot on the depth chart. Douglas will play outside as Wright lines up inside in three receiver sets.

Backup WRs: Dorial Green-Beckham should be considered the primary backup at this point, but he may even be ahead of Hunter as early as the first week of the season. After Nicks took the majority of first team snaps before being released, it's unclear how the depth chart figures itself out now.

Tight Ends

Starters: Delanie Walker
Backups: Anthony Fasano, Craig Stevens, Chase Coffman, Philip Supernaw

Delanie Walker has become an integral piece of the Titans offense over recent years. He enjoyed the best season of his career last year, catching 63 passes for 890 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers didn't do his performances justice as the quality of quarterback play cost him many opportunities to make plays down the field. Walker is 30 years of age and missed some time last year, but his physical talent suggests that he won't suffer a sharp decline in performance.

Place Kicker

Ryan Succop, Mike Meyer: Succop was actually very good for the Titans in 2014, hitting 86.4 percent of his attempts, but unfortunately for any fantasy owners that relied on him, he only had 22 of them (making 19). The team has brought in Mike Meyer, who didn't make it with the Bears in 2014 and adjusted his kicking technique to improve his chances of sticking this offseason. The Titans offense figures to be among the worst in the NFL again this year, so no matter who the Titans' kicker is, they'll be one to avoid.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Dexter McCluster, Tre McBride, Bishop Sankey, Antonio Andrews

Leon Washington was let go in the offseason, leaving a hole at kick returner for the Titans. Running back Bishop Sankey had the best performance for the team in 2014, but his role on offense may affect how much the coaching staff is willing to risk him on special teams. Antonio Andrews handled 5 kickoffs for 110 yards, which is not enough to lay sure claim to the job this year. Sankey handled most of the returns early in the season before being benched Week 8 over ball security issues, with McCluster filling in for him.

Punt Returners: Dexter McCluster, Harry Douglas, Perrish Cox

Dexter McCluster came to the Titans sporting a 12.1 yard career average on punt returns, but only managed 7 yards per return in Tennessee. The Titans are not the only team to have signed a Kansas City Chiefs returner only to find their production dropped off behind a different set of blockers. McCluster handled punts this season but his season ended on injured reserve after suffering a broken wrist. Harry Douglas and Perrish Cox both have return experience and have been used to backup McCluster.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Taylor Lewan, LG Byron Bell, C Brian Schwenke, RG Chance Warmack, RT Jeremiah Poutasi[R]
Key Backups: T Jamon Meredith, C Andy Gallik [R], T Quinton Span

It's hard to blame the Titans for investing so much in Andy Levitre all those years ago. He was a very good guard at the time, but an unforeseen physical decline earned him a spot on the bench before he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons. The Titans are just hoping for consistent mediocrity from a couple of spots on their line. Each of Byron Bell, Brian Schwenke and Jeremiah Poutasi are likely better suited to being backups, though Poutasi is more of an unknown as a rookie. Taylor Lewan is the emerging star at left tackle, while Chance Warmack only needs to prove his consistency as an outstanding talent at right guard.

Team Defense

No one was expecting big things from a defense that was transitioning to a new scheme under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, but the Titans D/ST underperformed even against that low bar. Safe for a shocking win at Kansas City to open the season, a slopfest against the Jags, and a couple of defensive scores, the Titans D/ST practically unusable in fantasy. Enter veteran defensive genius Dick Lebeau and edge rusher Brian Orakpo to complement Derrick Morgan, who came on in his new role, and the Titans D/ST at least has two sticks to rub together. They could still struggle mightily as a team with #2 pick Marcus Mariota learning the ropes, so only use the Titans reluctantly as a streamer or cheap DFS play until further notice.

Defensive Line

Starters: NT Sammie Hill, DT Jurrell Casey, DE DaQuan Jones
Backups: DE Karl Kluig, DE Mike Martin, DE Ropati Pitoitua, DT Al Woods, NT Angelo Blackson [R], DE David Bass

Starting DL: It doesn't appear that much is going to change on the defensive line for the Tennessee Titans this season. Jurrell Casey is the star of the group and he should be the only player who racks up anything close to 1,000 snaps. The rest of the starters should only be starters in name, as a consistent rotation will see bodies moving off the sideline on a regular basis. Sammie Lee Hill entered training camp on the PUP list because of a knee injury. He is expected to be the nose tackle again, but that injury is a concern to monitor. DaQuan Jones is expected to move into the starting lineup. Jones is a 2014 fourth round pick who played sparingly and poorly during his rookie season, so the Titans are banking on his development.

Backup DL: With DaQuan Jones moving into the starting lineup, the only new face in the rotation coming off the sideline will be rookie Angelo Blackson. Blackson was a fourth round pick who is best described as a space eater who will provide value that isn't seen on the stat sheet. Blackson joins Mike Martin, Al Woods, Ropati Pitoitua and Karl Kluig fighting for snaps upfront.

Linebackers

Starters: OLB Derrick Morgan, OLB Brian Orakpo, ILB Avery Williamson, ILB Wesley Woodyard
Backups: ILB Zach Brown, OLB Deiontrez Mount [R], OLB Jonathan Massaquoi, ILB Steven Johnson, ILB Justin Staples

Starting LBs: Dick LeBeau and Ray Horton have always shared an affinity for the linebacker position, so it's no surprise they made it a priority this year. Derrick Morgan was re-signed in free agency to start outside. Morgan had 63 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 16 starts last season. Across from Morgan, the Titans brought in Brian Orakpo as a priority free agent. Orakpo will start, but he is coming off an unimpressive season that was cut short after just seven games because of injury. Durability is a major concern with Orakpo in Tennessee. On the inside, both Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson should be consistent tacklers if healthy.

Backup LBs: Inside linebacker depth is a concern for the Titans. Neither Zaviar Gooden or Zach Brown should see the field much unless Williamson or Woodyard miss time through injury. Depth on the outside is just as big of a concern. Kamerion Wimbley's retirement didn't cost the Titans a quality player at this stage, but he was likely going to be the team's primary backup at both outside linebacker spots. Dontay Moch was in position to assume Wimbley's role as a primary backup, but he was let go after Wimbley retired, leaving rookie Deiontrez Mount in pole position to be the team's third outside linebacker.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Jason McCourty, S Michael Griffin, CB Perrish Cox, S Da'Norris Searcy
Backups: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Coty Sensabaugh, CB/S Marquestion Huff, CB Cody Riggs, S Daimion Stafford

Starting DBs: Jason McCourty is the Titans most talented defensive back by a wide margin, but he is facing an extended spell on the sideline with an injured groin. He hasn't been ruled out for Week 1 yet, but it's possible that he misses multiple games. McCourty isn't coming off of his best season. He still managed to notch 85 tackles, 11 pass deflections and three interceptions in 16 starts last year. Perrish Cox becomes the Titans top cornerback in McCourty's absence. His fantasy production spiked for the San Francisco 49ers last season when he took on a greater role in the defense. He had an incredible 16 pass deflections and five interceptions in 14 starts. That kind of production can't be expected, but it can be hoped for as he continues to start with his new team. Da'Norris Searcy was signed from the Buffalo Bills to be Michael Griffin's safety partner. Searcy is entering his prime after an impressive season for the Buffalo Bills last year, but he is now playing in a much tougher situation for a defensive back so it's tough to project him forward.

Backup DBs: The Titans don't have obvious options as backup defensive backs. Both Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Coty Sensabaugh were liabilities in coverage last year. They should compete for the nickel back role, but Brandon Harris won't feel like he has to just accept a role further down the depth chart. Marqueston Huff barely played as a rookie, but he will be expected to compete for a much larger role during his second season.

Last modified: 2015-12-15 16:48:57