NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 01: Jason McCourty #30 of the Tennessee Titans returns a fumble while being chased by Andy Tanner #14 of the New Orleans Saints during their pre season game at Louisiana Superdome on September 1, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo by Sean Gardner/ Getty Images)
Here are some things we learned about the Titans defense this preseason:
The Rookie Defensive Tackles Can Play
Karl Klug has to be the surprise of the preseason. We have heard so much about the need for the defensive line to get bigger, and it is the undersized defensive tackle that makes the biggest impact in the preseason. Early on we will probably see KLUUUUUUG on the field mostly on passing downs, but he looks like he has a future in this league as an every down defensive tackle.
Jurrell Casey was the guy that I was the most excited about coming out of the draft. He played pretty well in the preseason, and it looks like he will figure heavily in the rotation at defensive tackle.
Zach Clayton was a late round pick who also made some plays in the preseason. The staff has to be really excited about this group, and if their development continues they could be the anchor of the defensive line for the next four years.Akeem Ayers is a Beast
There is no doubt that linebacker was the weakest spot on the 2010 Titans' defense. The staff had to be thrilled when Ayers fell into their laps in the second round. He gives the Titans a playmaker at LB- something they were desperately missing in 2010.
Cortland Finnegan in the Nickel
This was something else new we saw this preseason. Finny has looked good in his new role, but Paul Kuharsky raised and interesting question the other day on the radio, is Jerry Gray going to trust Jason McCourty or Alterraun Verner outside against Andre Johnson when it counts? That is going to be something we will have to watch for and see, but I love the idea of putting Finnegan in the position to make plays like he did in the preseason.
What to do at Safety
Chris Hope has looked better in the preseason because this staff actually played him where he has a chance to have success. Michael Griffin bites on pump fakes and intercepts passes, you know, just Griff being Griff, but what is the depth chart going to look like behind the starters? Jordan Babineaux has made plays, so he is going to stick, but who else will stick? Your guess is as good as mine, but we should start to find out in the next few hours.
I am encouraged by the play of the defense, but they still have some work to do. They also need to get Jason Jones, Jacob Ford, and Derrick Morgan back on the field because it is going to be a long year if they don't.