The Titans had a big position to fix at Center after a disastrous year in 2012. They remedied the issue by bringing in Rob Turner, a 16 starter for the Rams in 2011, Chris Spencer, who can play Center in a pinch, and finally drafting Brian Schwenke with the 107th overall pick. How did that shake out in 2013 and where is the unit headed in 2014?
Though it seems the team wanted the rookie, Schwenke, out there starting from day one, a camp injury derailed those ideas. Enter Rob Turner, who was heavily praised by the coaching staff when he stepped into the starting role. Many Titans fans felt okay with him at the spot at first; he is first and foremost a leader, and his resume with the Rams the year before added confidence. Turns out that was a big error of judgment by all.
Turner went on to start the season, and it was a mess from the get go. Of the 34 qualifying centers in the NFL, Turner graded out at 33 per PFF, and that lack of success showed on the field plenty. The team was unable to run behind him and he was equally inept in his pass protection. Credit him for making the right calls at the line though, and as has been mentioned, he is a great locker room guy. Turner went in IR after week 7 after losing the starting job to a recovering Schwenke. He is a free agent in 2014.
($495k in 2014)
Schwenke's first NFL regular season game came against the 49ers, not exactly an easy initiation. Despite that, Schwenke was solid, and his play grew better with each passing week. Though he was far from perfect, he's already the best Titans center since Mawae...that is kind of sad. It was also revealed in early January that Schwenke will undergo a scope for a high ankle sprain he played through almost all season. The surgery itself is nothing major, just scar tissue removal for the most part, but if 2013 was Schwenke playing hurt, I am excited to see what he can do when healthy. The Titans have needed a strong presence in the middle, and after reviewing tape from his play last season, I think the FO hit a home run picking him in the last draft.
"I feel like I can lead an offensive line. I’m no Ray Lewis. I can’t yell at the whole team, but I feel like I do a good job of leading the offensive line," he said...You’ve got to really become confident and take charge of that role, and all the guys will listen to you."
Sounds like a leader to me. Schwenke will enter 2014 as the starting center, and hopefully his development will aid in the rebuilding of the Titans running game.
Matthews is again a FA after being an on-again off-again player on the Titans roster for the past few years. Matthews saw some action in 2012 when the line was broken down to the bare bones, and his play wasn't exactly positive. With Bruce gone from Tennessee, I doubt we see Matthews added to the roster again for the 10,327th time.
The Titans need to add some bodies behind Schwenke going into 2014, as it is highly unlikely Turner or Matthews will be re-signed in any capacity. The team is likely looking at FA for that role. That said, the Titans are looking good for next season if Schwenke can return at full health as expected. Here's to hoping he can provide the consistency long-missed at the position in Tennessee. If he can play well, it'll makes this new Titans offense run all the smoother.
All of the other State of the Titans Position Groups can be found here: