Titans Player Spotlight: Delanie Walker

Andy Lyons

After shipping off Jared Cook to St. Louis, Tennessee replaced him with the 49ers utility man in Delanie Walker. How did he fare in his first season as a Titan?

Very well, actually. The former 49er put up his best season as a pro by a long shot, fulfilling expectations set by Webster when he was brought into town on a four year deal. Walker made the proverbial leap, more than doubling his previous best for receptions, and becoming a key cog in the offense. More than this, Walker led the team in TDs with 6, and recorded statistically, one of the best seasons by a Tight End in Titans history. Not bad for a guy with "stone hands".

Walker set a pre-season goal of 70 catches, and he came close, posting 60 catches for 571 yards. Despite plenty of doubting that he would scrape that at the time, Walker might have actually gotten there had he not missed a game and 3/4 with a concussion.

This coming season, Walker will get a chance to work with some phenomenal coaching talent, including former NFL Tight End and long time coach, Mike Mularkey. More than this, both Head Coach, Ken Whisenhunt and Offensive Coordinator, Jason Michael are former Tight Ends. Both coaches have given the impression that the Titans offense of 2014 will run a lot of 12 personnel.

Whisenhunt elaborated on his goals for Walker going forward:

"Working with Antonio Gates got me excited about the position, and I think there's a lot of elements to what Delanie does that are similar in that capacity."

Walker himself sounds excited to work with the new crew as well:

"I’m excited. I feel like our offense is going to be inside out now," Walker said. "They’ll probably look to get me the ball more and use my talent. I’ve got the speed that I can run vertical and when I get the ball in my hands I can make plays, so I’m excited to see what they bring to the table."

Beyond all this, Walker fit in to his role in the locker room; that of a vocal leader with fire and passion, and one who could back up his talk with his play on the field. Delanie also developed a good rapport with both Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick, and was a huge asset in the run game, adding to his already-impressive resume as a stout blocker. With a full offseason to work him into the offense, an effort that was derailed last year due to a camp injury, Walker looks poised to post another strong season in two-toned blue.

He proved to be the "swiss army knife" type player, a "movable chess piece" that gives the offense a ton of flexibility, and the ability to create multiple looks to work the favorable match-ups. The Titans also have the advantage of tailoring the offense to feature the Tight End since he will be in town long term. Considering he is making 3 million next season, I think the Titans got it right when they brought him to Tennessee.

Personally, I am excited to see what the team can do with Walker next year. His role should be expanded, especially in the region of outlet/dump off receiver, something I feel was missing last season often. With the backs unable to fill that role, Walker would have been the ideal choice, one that was ultimately underutilized. I don't foresee that being an issue in 2014.

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