A Resurgence From Kamerion Wimbley?

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 Free Agent splash has dwindled in past seasons. Are Titans fan's due for a surprise in 2014?

First off, when Wimbley arrived in Tennessee in 2012 with a splash deal, it was accompanied with plenty of fanfare and talks about reviving the legendary Titans pass-rush of old. The talk was about getting Wimbley back to where he made his mark to get to the NFL, where he was more comfortable; putting his hand in the dirt and getting after the quarterback from the defensive end position. None of this materialized, and after two seasons, Wimbley was looking like a relative dud on behalf of Tennessee Titans GM, Ruston Webster.

The bleeding was mitigated this offseason, when Webster and the rest of the Titans front office staff went on a cap-savvy spree. Wimbley was forced to restructure his deal to remain with the team, cutting down his bloated $6 million due in 2014, to a total of $9 million over next three seasons.

Declining snaps have been a big issue with Wimbley over the past year. Whether he was simply not as effective on the field (and in practice) as in the past, or the defensive staff were simply undecided on how best to use him, Wimbley's snap count dropped dramatically in 2013. At this point the former Florida State standout is at a positional crossroads. While he has maintained in the past that he is more comfortable at the Defensive End spot, or more "natural" in his words, his performance on the field reflects the opposite of that.

3-4 Alignment (OLB)

4-3 Alignment (DE)

Total Sacks

42

9

Average Sacks Per Season

7

4.5

While his greater amount of time in the NFL has been spent as an outside backer, the difference in Wimbley's average sack production has to be noted. And while it's obvious that sacks don't paint the most accurate picture of defensemen success in the NFL, Wimbley's tackle totals also dropped by more than 50% after his switch back to a 'hand-in-the-dirt' defensive end as well, the role he played in college and claimed to be more comfortable with. It's safe to say that he has not had the impact desired during his time in Tennessee thus far, nor the same at his earlier stops in Cleveland and Oakland.

"By what we’re doing with the transition of a 4-3 to a 3-4, they will get the most scrutiny because they’re really going to a position where they have had their hand on the ground every snap and rushing to standing up on two feet and sometimes they’re rushing and sometimes they’re dropping, so I think people gravitate to them to see how they’re doing. Well, mentally they’re doing outstanding. They’re both really quality professionals that are committed to what we’re doing and they spend copious time doing notes and studying. The best word I can use for it is they’re true professionals, meaning they are embracing what we’re doing, they’re accepting it and they’re trying to be the best they can be. They’re not a concern of mine, which is great because really, they are the key to it, and for me to say I’m not worried about it, that tells me and us that they’re doing everything that we expect them to do and it’s been a smooth transition so far."

DC Ray Horton, on Titans linebackers Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley.

So what's in store for Wimbley in 2014? Is there reason for optimism? Wimbley will likely be back playing outside linebacker in new Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 hybrid scheme. While still up for debate, it is my thinking that he will slot in as a rotational player at the Leo spot along with Shawn Phillips. Together, they should be able to give Tennessee's defense a shot in the arm, especially when it comes to rushing the passer, something both players have proven they can do well when put in the right situations.

"It’s an exciting defense and I know the guys here are excited about it...When we go out there, we try to practice with enthusiasm. We try to execute so we can run as many plays as the coach wants to call. It gives us options on Sundays."

"For me, I just wanted to come back and have the opportunity to compete and go out and prove that I am the player they thought I was when they brought me in here."

Kamerion Wimbley at Titans OTA's.

Wimbley's new discounted salary and the optimization of his position may be a big difference factor in 2014. The Titans FO and fans alike might finally see some of the return on investment they expected back all the way back in 2012.

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