Titans analysis: Hey 2007 class: You’d better watch out

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 12:15am

Dear Tennessee Titans draft class of 2007: You are now officially on notice.

That’s because by this weekend, there will be a whole new crop of rookies who will come in and try to make an impression on coaches and earn themselves a role on the 2008 edition of the Titans come this fall.

Michael Griffin, you don’t have to worry. You’re firmly established in the starting lineup at free safety, probably for the next half dozen years or so, as long as the coaches can resist the urge to move you back to cornerback if the need arises.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the group of 2007, as their contributions beyond special teams were only minimal, and in some cases non-existent.

Granted, the climate changed around Baptist Sports Park last year from the way the 2004-06 classes received a baptism by fire with many being thrown into the lineup before they were really ready to do so. The Titans didn’t need to throw as many of their rookies into the fray early on as in years past.

Still, other than Griffin, only guard Leroy Harris from last year’s rookie crop appears assured of challenging for a starting role for the coming season.

Others are simply trying to force their way into the mix and find a role, hoping not to be — to use a college term — “recruited over” by the incoming class of 2008.

General manager Mike Reinfeldt admitted last week that it is time for the young players on the roster to step up and make valuable contributions in order for the Titans to take the next step as a contending franchise.

Receiver Paul Williams, who did not play a single down as a rookie, will be on the spot to show he can quickly adapt to Mike Heimerdinger’s system and take some playing time away from the veterans ahead of him. Ditto for Chris Davis, who showed flashes in the slot, but may be in danger of losing his shaky hold on the punt return job to free agent Chris Carr or a draft pick from this weekend.

Running back Chris Henry, last year’s second-rounder, will likely find competition nipping at his heels once the weekend is over, as the Titans will probably add another running back to the mix with one of their picks. How soon that pick is made might determine the organization’s feelings about Henry’s long-term future as a Titan.

As for defensive tackle Antonio Johnson and end Jacob Ford, the jury is still way out because of training camp injuries that derailed them before the season even began. One or both could eventually make an impact, but they will likely to find a rookie or two battling with them come camp time.

The same thing goes for rookie offensive lineman Mike Otto, who spent most of 2007 on the practice squad, a common practice as the Titans try to develop long-term depth across the line.

While the focus this weekend will be on the newcomers, last year’s group will be worth monitoring for progress as well, to see who develops and contributes and who falls through the cracks.

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By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Wait a minute Terry. Mel Kiper and all the draft gurus gave the Titans anything from B+ to B- grades on last year's draft. This was before the first pass was completed or tackle made. All the TITAN1 tyoes were calling radio shows predicting 16-0 seasons, how these rookies has that lunchpail attitude, how they could step up and bring it to the table.Sarcasm aside, let's put Kiper and the draft "experts" out to pasture. Their draft grading is about as important as keeping pre-season baseball stats, talking NFL mid-season MVP, fantasy leagues and other talk radio slow days fodder.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

courier, I'm glad I make your day, you mention my screen name so many times.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Titan1, Your name is mentioned so often because you always lead with your chin. You are such an easy target.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Most positive people are. That is what the negative live for.

By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I back you up Titan1. The goal of an NFL team is to make it to the playoffs--- mission accomplished. We could not have done it without Michael Griffin, Chris Davis, and Chris Henry (first Houston game, Oakland game). All I want is to again make it to the playoffs and win a superbowl sometime in the near future.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I got your back Titan too.For someone who has such disdain for that sports talk radio courier sure does know a lot about it. He's a closet listener.It's ok courier, you can come out of the closet.

By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Gdia, painting a target on my back gets you the same myopic disease that afflicts TITAN1. I know you think it heroic or virtuous, but being a mimic takes the same skill as being a parrot.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Titan1, There is a huge difference between a blind positive and a reality positive. I never made any real money with blind faith. I concentrate on the negative aspects and let the positive things take care of themselves. It is the negative things that ruin business deals and lives. I never heard of a positive thing hurting anyone.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Oh, and courier, I hate to burst your bubble, but I have only called a sports talk show twice, both to WLAC during the "Yes" campaign. nashbeck and gdiafante, we don't agree on everything, but at least we are civil and we don't sit around and gripe about everything.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

There are quite a few joy suckers that post here. They find out what someone is interested in, then try to suck the joy right out of it.

By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Titan1-- i'd have to say that you me and gdiafante pretty much have the same opinion on everything... at least as much as i can remember. Great minds think alike

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

boys, boys, back to your corners...