The Tennessee Titans realized they had found a diamond in the rough during the 2011 season.
The Titans signed Barrett Ruud to a handsome contract to play the middle linebacker position. The Titans were unable to retain three year starter Steven Tulloch as he made his way back to Jim Schwartz in Detroit. Ruud had previously played in Tampa Bay and had over 100 solo tackles in 2008 and 2009 while still notching 85 in 2010.
The Buccaneers looked like they got out at the right time which is so often the case in free agency. One team thinks they're getting a deal and the previous team knows the end is near. Ruud only started 9 games for the Titans as 4th round pick Colin McCarthy couldn't be kept off the field.
Showing great instincts combined with a tenacity that would make his Alma mater proud, McCarthy took over the Mike linebacker spot for the Titans by mid-season and never looked back. With a nose for the ball, McCarthy tallied 68 combined tackles, with 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and and interception in just 7 starts. He quickly took command of the huddle and proved that not only could he play, but had a good grasp of the playbook, and could get the other defensive players in position as well. He quickly became one of the bright spots in a relatively young defense that the Titans were counting on going into 2012.
One of the first dominoes to fall in what turned out to be a disastrous season for the Titans was the ankle injury Colin McCarthy suffered in the home opener against the New England Patriots. McCarthy had a high ankle sprain from which he would never fully recover. That, combined with concussion issues, kept him sidelined for the majority of the season last year as the defense claimed the most points allowed in franchise history. McCarthy had surgery on his ankle during this off season when it became clear the injury would not heal on its own.
In a recent article by Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, McCarthy said he will be ready to go for training camp.
"But it's a new season, and that's behind me. My injuries are behind me, and I have to prove to the naysayers and the people who think that injuries are a concern ... I have to put those to rest."
While veteran free agent Moise Fokou has been penciled in as the starting MLB during the off season, having McCarthy back in the lineup can bring a much needed spark to this defensive unit. His attitude and aggressiveness coincide well with what Gregg Williams and Bernard Pollard have already begun to install. If McCarthy is truly 100%, I expect the camp battle for the middle linebacker spot to be short lived.