clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tennessee Titans Training Camp Previews: Cornerback

New, comments

Heading into camp, what does the Titans cornerback corps look like?

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans are fast approaching camp. We continue our look at the roster with the cornerback group. The corps has obviously undergone some changes this year, both in personnel available and in scheme.

The Players

#1: Jason McCourty - 65 tackles, 11 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.

Ranked No. 10 of 110 qualifying corners in the NFL per PFF, Titans corner Jason McCourty had a good season in 2013. His productivity in the tackle department did drop noticeably without any real change in targets from 2012 however. He also failed to nab any interceptions, which is something you'd like to see more of for such a well-regarded player.

That said, McCourty is an unsung talent on the outside, and his veteran presence should continue to pay dividends for the Titans heading into the 2014 season. He enters camp the uncontested No.1 outside corner, and should thrive in Ray Horton's new, aggressive-minded defense.

#2: Coty Sensabaugh - 31 tackles, 7 passes defensed, 2 fumble recoveries.

Coty Sensabaugh, the third year pro out of Clemson, is expected to be stepping into bigger role in Tennessee. Though he ended last season on IR, Sensabaugh made strides in defending the nickel/slot in 2013, and I think he ends up remaining there. With ideal quickness, he figures to play a bigger role in a less experienced cornerback group this coming season, cementing himself as a slot defense specialist. An area he will need to excel in will be run defense, where Ray Horton expects his inside corners to be able to make stops in the run game, and every now and again, blitz off the edge.

Whether Sensabaugh is ready to step up is another question entirely.

#3: Blidi Wreh-Wilson - 13 tackles, 1 pass defensed, 1 forced fumble.

After playing sparingly in his rookie season, Wreh-Wilson is emerging as the favorite to start on the outside in 2014, replacing the departed Alterraun Verner. Wreh-Wilson started in OTA's opposite McCourty, and has been impressing. One of the Titans major camp battles is seeing who ends up playing on the outside between him and Sensabaugh. With ideal size and athletic ability, Wreh-Wilson is the odds on favorite, both in the eyes of the coaching staff and of myself. It would be a big leap from limited snaps to starting, and it will be important to see if he can make the transition.

#4: Tommie Campbell - 11 tackles.

There's not much to say regarding Tommie Campbell, the Titans' training camp superstar. He entered the league as a 7th rounder with the Titans, and has shone here and there on special teams. He's now known more for his blunders than his exploits. He has failed to make a dent on defense either, despite camp claims the past two seasons that he was challenging guys like Verner on the outside.

All that aside, his physical measurables have kept defensive coaches drooling, but his time on the roster is nearer it's end than it's beginning. I don't see Campbell on the final roster, but with a relatively inexperienced group he stands a chance to stick around another year.

#5: Khalid Wooten

Wooten was waived by the Titans last season and put on the Practice Squad. Whether he's ready to elevate his play and earn a roster spot this season is hard to say. He has the skills to play some special teams which might help him in his efforts, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Hopefully he can surprise everyone and bump Campbell off the roster.

#6: Marc Anthony

Anthony was bounced from Ravens, and then Buccaneers, to his current home in Nashville. He'll be competing for special teams role due to his inexperience and inherent speed limitations.

#7: Winston Wright {R} and #8: Ri'Shard Anderson {R}

Two rookie corners who will fight for a spot on the final roster or (more likely) the Practice Squad. Both guys had decent college careers, so it will interesting if they can surprise anyone in their debut camp.

What's Changed?

The biggest change is no doubt the departure of Alterraun Verner, which was met with a chorus of disapproval from Titans fans after they saw what he was eventually signed for in Tampa Bay. Regardless of circumstance, the Titans have been expecting to lose him for some time, and have drafted accordingly, bringing in guys like Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson, to fill the void. With a change of coaching staff, it will be interesting to see how the corner depth chart stacks up, but there will definitely be a surprise or two when all is said and done.

McCourty will have a new tandem partner opposite him this year, but whether that is Sensabaugh or Wreh-Wilson is yet to be determined.

The Big Question

Can Wreh-Wilson and Sensabaugh step up to the plate? No matter who wins the camp battle for the second corner role, the other will still be charged with playing a significant role in the 2014 campaign. With the rise of prevalence of three, four, and five wideout sets, so has it increased the importance of nickel and dime defenders. With the importance of role players like slot specialists being ever more pronounced, whoever the Titans coaching staff pick will be play a big role in the outcome of the entire defense.

New defensive coordinator Ray Horton also likes to use his nickel defenders to be able to come up and play the run reliably, as well as blitz occasionally when called upon. Can Sensabaugh or Wreh-Wilson fill those shoes?

Best Case Scenario

Wreh-Wilson turns out to be a gem of a find (some people had him as their top corner last year) and starts full time opposite McCourty. Sensabaugh locks down the nickel/slot role and excels against both the run and pass. The Titans cornerbacks stay healthy and thrive in Horton's aggressive defensive scheme.

Worst Case Scenario

Neither Wreh-Wilson or Sensabaugh have the tools to step into the starting roles, and provide the team with sub-starter quality play throughout the season. McCourty goes down with injury, further complicating the mix, since behind him is a muddle of mostly unproven talent. He has to stay healthy for the Titans to consistently win on defense.

Summary

The Titans' cornerback group is at a bit of a crossroads following Verner's departure. They will need the young talent they have been collecting to provide a return on investment in the form of quality play in starting positions. I am confident that Wreh-Wilson and Sensabaugh are up to the task at hand, but their relative lack of experience does leave some questions as to whether they are ready to take command of those roles in 2014. With training camp on our doorstep, we may well find out very soon.