So mini-camp is upon us, which is the prelude to the grueling training camp schedule, and a couple of potential camp battles are starting to form. Which is great because that creates competition, and competition brings the best out of players.
In the past couple of camps there have been a couple of training camp battles, but not as many as I can remember. Also a couple of starting spots aren't completely safe either, which is unnerving to some people, but that means the Titans can fix their problems before they begin to take a toll on the season.
Now there are a couple of positions that are locks, and will not be lost in camp. Almost 9 to 10 of the starters on both sides of the ball are locks, but some of the starters aren't complete locks. Also certain package position players aren't locks either and some of those package positions are extremely important.
I'll begin with the starter position battles on Defense first.
Colin McCarthy vs. Moise Fokou is one battle that is brewing. Colin isn't a %100 lock to be a starter when he comes back, and a lot of that is if he can come back from an injury and actually be completely healthy. Fokou on the other hand has been flying around the field during OTA's and Gregg Williams is noticing. Now I wouldn't be surprised if McCarthy does keep his starting position when he comes back, if he can remain healthy of course. The guy can go sideline to sideline and he would be perfect in a Gregg William defense, but Fokou is pretty good himself.
Prediction: McCarthy keeps his ILB job, IF he's healthy
Sammie Hill vs Mike Martin for the other starting Defensive Tackle. Right now Martin is the guy to keep his position for the most part, but Hill could give him a run for his money. Hill did play in relief for two of the best DT's in football with Suh and Fairley, and he felt he could test the market and start. Well the Titans who have been looking to beef up their Defensive line sure did when they added Hill, and wants to start. Martin really impressed this past season and shows that he is quick and extremely strong for his size, which is the main reason if Hill started, his size. If you put Casey and Hill next to each other, that's a lot of beef.
Prediction: Martin keeps the DT spot, but Hill could over take if Martin starts to struggle.
Michael Griffin vs George Wilson vs Bernard Pollard for starting Safeties. As far as everyone knows right now it looks like the starting Safeties will be FS Michael Griffin and SS Bernard Pollard, which if Griffin plays the way he did a couple of years ago could be wonderful. Griffin will start at the beginning of the year, maybe, but if he struggles to recognize offensive schemes and blows a couple of crucial tackles George Wilson will step right in. Wilson could be the solution to some of our opposing TE problems.
Prediction: Pollard is pretty much a lock at SS, but I'm going with Griffin as the starter week one, and Wilson becomes the starting FS by week 3.
Now to the Offensive side of the ball.
Nate Washington vs Kendall Wright vs Justin Hunter for starting slot receiver and Y receiver. Right now it looks like Kendall is the going to play opposite Kenny Britt, but Nate is certainly making a case for being in that position as well. Nate looks to be playing to disappoint some naysayers, but Wright has looked extremely sharp in OTA's. He's lost weight and has looked extremely shifty in his route running. Hunter on the other hand, well we haven't seen much of Hunter (until very recently). He's been battling a hamstring injury and for WR's that injury can take time to be %100 healthy. Still the size and talent of Hunter is hard to ignore, and if WR's coach Jefferson get into Hunter's ear then we could potentially see something special happen.
Prediction: Wright is the Y WR, and Nate is the Slot. Hunter will show flashes, but as of right now he will battle with Kevin Walter to remain in the rotation until he starts to show development.
Craig Stevens vs Taylor Thompson for the other TE starting spot. With the Titans looking to run the ball more often in the coming year everyone assumes the Titans will run a double tight set. Delanie Walker was signed to bring more physicality to the TE position along with some decent hands. So Walker has got the starting TE spot, but the TE isn't really locked up yet. Stevens who has developed into quite the physical TE on running plays is assumed to be the starter, but if Thompson can show why the Titans went and converted back to TE he should be starter. He has to improve his blocking, but his vertical game could be a big enough risk to start him.
Prediction: Thompson will be the starting TE. Stevens is prob a better start on paper, but if Thompson can get going it's his to lose.
Fernando Velasco vs Robert Turner vs Brian Schwenke for starting Center. Most of the starting O-line is locked up from left to right, except the very middle. Now Velasco was one of the only bright spots in the Titans 2012 O-line, but that isn't saying too much. Especially considering who he was replacing. Enter Rob Turner, who has looked the part of the starter the more and more reps he gets, and people were starting to wonder if the tender we signed Velasco too was worth it. Then the Titans draft Mr. Schwenke, who a lot of draft experts had as the best Center in the draft along with Barrett Jones and better than Dallas Cowboy Travis Frederick. Now people are arguing that Schwenke could be the stater. This battle will be the most interesting because I believe all of them are capable of being a great starter, but I hope the Titans are going with the best player and don't feel obligated to keep someone the starter.
Prediction: I want it to be Schwenke, but for it looks like the Titans are gonna keep with Velasco at Center so it will take a shorter time for the line to mold together.