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Summary from the Final Week of Camp
On Thursday, Ryan Tannehill was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list. The team confirmed that he is vaccinated, so he likely tested positive or showed symptoms. There’s no reason to expect that he misses Week 1, but this situation is worth monitoring. Logan Woodside has been with the team for a few years now, but veteran Matt Barkley has done enough in camp to claim the backup role. Although Woodside threw the lone touchdown in the final preseason game, Barkley showed more poise, had more yards, and had a better completion rate.
Derrick Henry received a light veteran workload early in camp but spent the final week as a full participant to “knock some of the rust off.” His leaguemates voted him the 4th-best player in the NFL. “It’s always great to have the respect of your peers,” said the workhorse tailback. After being cut by the Atlanta Falcons, undrafted rookie free agent Javian Hawkins signed with the Titans to add backfield depth. Hawkins looked shifty in the preseason game against the Bears and punched in a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough for him to make the 53-man roster. With Darrynton Evans dealing with an injury, and Brian Hill placed on season-ending IR, the team needs able bodies.
Quarterbacks coach Pat O'Hara is confident Ryan Tannehill and Julio Jones will get on the same page; it’s been a slow build since the Titans acquired Jones from Atlanta. "We'll find a way to it done," said O’Hara. Although A.J. Brown had surgery on both knees this offseason, he’s expected to be a full go for Week 1. Jones, Brown, Josh Reynolds, Marcus Johnson, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine comprise the top five. Chester Rogers or Cameron Batson should also make the team. Batson is the odds-on winner of the battle after a strong preseason finale.
Anthony Firkser sits atop one of the league’s worst tight end units. He’s an adequate receiver but struggles as a blocker. Geoff Swaim was placed on the COVID-19 list. Tommy Hudson will primarily play a blocking role.
Tucker McCann was released, officially making Sam Ficken the kicker. Ficken made all six extra-point attempts and all three field-goal attempts in the preseason. Every field goal was 44 yards or longer.
This defense is far from a strength, but the run-heavy, ball-control offense limits opponent’s time of possession and helps mitigate the defensive shortcomings. The lack of playmakers means the best-case scenario is a fundamentally sound, bend-but-don’t-break approach. Bud Dupree will anchor the defensive line. Rashaan Evans is looking to build off two solid seasons and is the team’s most crucial linebacker. Safety is a weakness, but a strong group of cornerbacks should help in coverage.
Former return specialist Cameron Batson needs to earn punt and kickoff return responsibilities to make the final 53-man roster. If he doesn't, Chester Rogers was a strong punt returner for four years for the Indianapolis Colts before spending the 2020 season out of football, and Darrynton Evans has been fielding kickoffs.
Summary from Week 3 of Camp
There’s no question that Ryan Tannehill will lead the Titans this year. But there is a question of how he and new OC Todd Downing mesh, given how important the departed Arthur Smith was in reinvigorating Tannehill’s career. So far, so good: "[Downing] is a great mind," Tannehill said. "I think we think about the game similarly, and we get along personally. He has a good process of creating plays and drives and what we want to accomplish throughout the day." He has had limited practices with Julio Jones, but his rapport with A.J. Brown hasn’t skipped a beat. Logan Woodside, longtime backup, is getting outperformed by Matt Barkley, who could wrestle away the QB2 job.
Derrick Henry’s role as a bellcow back isn’t going to change this season. Darrynton Evans could serve as a third-down back, but he is dealing with an injury that kept him out of practice this week. Mekhi Sargent had a great preseason game against the Bucs, racking up 78 yards on 16 carries and a five-yard touchdown reception.