Training camp inches ever closer for the Titans, and there are several battles that will be under way once things get started.
One of the areas that has not been talked about abundantly for the Titans is how things will shake out on the defensive line. Jeffery Simmons and free agent addition Denico Autry are certainties to figure into the Titans plans along the defensive front. Beyond that, however, there are question marks as to who will fill what role and how the pecking order will shake out.
Longtime defensive tackle Daquan Jones exited in free agency to the Carolina Panthers. That leaves a bit of a question mark for who will fill his role when the Titans are in their base 3-4 defense.
Of course, with their multiplicity looks, the Titans will have packages where Simmons and Autry will team with Bud Dupree and Harold Landry to form a nice four-man front to rush the passer.
The most intriguiing candidate for playing time on the defensive line might be Teair Tart, who enters his second season with the club. Tart split last year between the practice squad and the active roster, and when he got his shot, proved to be one of the team’s few rookies who actually made some impact.
The Titans want to see Tart’s conditioning improve in year two to allow him an opportunity to see more snaps this season.
The other second-year pro is fifth-round pick Larrell Murchison, who was active more early in the season and was inactive later. Murchison seemed to be passed by Tart for playing time as the 2020 season wore on, but will get another chance with a full off-season to prove his worth.
Elsewhere, the Titans added veteran Abry Jones, who played for Jacksonville for eight seasons before coming to Tennessee for a fresh start.
Rookie Naquan Jones – no relation to Daquan – was the only undrafted rookie the Titans added at the position, and the club hopes he can show some promise in camp.
The remainder of the position group is made up of some off-season additions, who have been well traveled through the league. Those include Bruce Hector, Trevon Coley and Woodrow Hamilton IV.
For the Titans’ defensive line to be a strength, it will take Simmons taking a big step forward into elite status, with Autry bringing some interior rush skills. Then, it will take enough of the others stepping forward in order for the Titans to be able to have a decent rotation within the unit.
Terry McCormick is the founder and editor of titaninsider.com and has covered the Tennessee Titans since 1997. TitanInsider.com was founded in 2010 and is one of the leading media outlets covering the local NFL team with a presence online, on social media, radio and television. TitanInsider.com is published in partnership with Main Street Media of Middle Tennessee.