Titans training camp: Questions and answers

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 11:04pm

The Tennessee Titans clearly entered training camp with more questions than answers about their prospects for the 2011 campaign.

With camp now complete and the start of the regular season fewer than three weeks away, some of those questions have been answered but some have not.

A look at three lingering questions and three that have been resolved:

QUESTIONS

1. When will Chris Johnson end his holdout and rejoin the team?


The news Tuesday afternoon that Johnson and his agent would be in town Wednesday morning to meet with Titans’ officials obviously was a positive step, albeit not a definitive one.

There remains a fundamental divide between the player’s wishes to be one of the highest-paid players in the game and the reality of his situation. The position he plays often does not command that level of income and given that he has two years remaining on his current contract, the team has a lot of leverage.

It must — and will — happen eventually. Even with Johnson in town, it’s difficult to say exactly when.

2. Is this the year the Titans finally have a big-play threat at wide receiver?

It’s no secret to anyone that Kenny Britt is the guy with the potential, but he also has a recurring hamstring issue, one that derailed him at his peak in the middle of last season. Coaches insist the decision to hold him out of many practices and the first two preseason games was precautionary but the reality is that it raises questions about whether Britt ever again will be the explosive player he’s been at times during his first two seasons.

Until he actually shows it again, it remains a significant unknown.

3. Is the pass defense, which ranked 29th in the league last season, improved?

Thus far there are no new faces among the starting safeties or top three cornerbacks and the 83-yard touchdown pass allowed to St. Louis on the first snap last Saturday hardly inspired confidence.

That being said, in limited duty through the first two weeks of the preseason, the pass defense has looked much more productive than not. The long touchdown pass was an obvious failure in communication and not a problem with scheme or the players’ ability to perform it, which means it is an easy fix. Plus, free agent Jordan Babineaux looks to add some real pizzazz to the safety group and certainly will have a role.

Still, it probably will take a few weeks into the season before anyone has a real feel for this one.

ANSWERS


1. Who will be the starting quarterback Week 1 against Jacksonville?

That one was pretty well settled when Matt Hasselbeck was signed as a free agent, but the veteran’s play through the first two preseason games — not to mention his work in practices — puts to rest any need to rush rookie Jake Locker.

Hasselbeck has completed 80 percent of his throws thus far and has been a commanding presence from the moment he arrived.

Only injury can get him out of there now.

2. Will the Titans still be able to rush the passer without Jim Washburn as the defensive line coach?

It is not an absolute certainty but the early answer looks to be yes.

The Titans have recorded seven sacks in their first two games (four and three, respectively), although only two of them have come from the defensive line. Well-timed blitzes accompanied by a disciplined attack from the front four can be just as effective as the hell-bent-for-leather approach Washburn taught.

Plus one of the defensive line sacks came from second-year defensive end Derrick Morgan, who still is on the mend from last season’s knee injury.

3. Is Mike Munchak ready to be a head coach in the NFL?

Absolutely.

Practices have been crisp and productive. Players have been having fun and have expressed a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. Munchak, himself, has been adaptable based on weather conditions, player health and general feel.

At no time — publicly, at least — has he or any part of the operation seemed unprepared.

2 Comments on this post:

By: fdanshep on 8/24/11 at 5:51

Two years ago Michael Griffin couldn't have started on a Division I college team. He had "personal issues" . In the Rams game it appeared that Griffin didn't pick up the receiver from Finnegan; thus the long touchdown. Babineaux could give him a run for his money at the starting position if he gets off to a slow start.

By: jwk6179 on 8/24/11 at 9:33

The Chicago Bears are coming into LP Field this weekend, along with their Quaterback Jay Cutler. I have one question for you Titan fans, Are you all going to show anyone that attends this Saturday night's game wearing a #6 Jay Cutler jersey the SAME DISTAIN and ANIMOSITY that you show anyone at LP Field wearing a Peyton Manning jersey? Are you going to BOO Jay Cutler when he steps onto the field the way you BOO Peyton Manning when he steps onto the field? If not, then Titan fans are the BIGGEST, TWO FACED HYPOCRITES in all of SPORTS!!! You might say that Peyton Manning plays for the emeny, but remember, this weekend, Jay Cutler is the ENEMY in LP Field!!!!