So far on or countdown of influential Titans, we've looked at newly dubbed inside backer, Zach Brown, vertical-monster Justin Hunter, and young corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson. All three of these players have the potential to elevate the Titans team this coming season, and their failure has the potential to deep six their playoff hopes. With that established, we move on to the 2nd player in our countdown.
# 2 Derrick Morgan
Morgan has been a defensive end for the Titans thus far into his four year pro career. With the arrival of new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Morgan is making the jump to the "Leo" outside backer spot. Up to today he has been thriving in this new role; a regular standout in camp drills and scrimmages.
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Morgan's fit in Horton's scheme will determine a lot about how effective the Titans pass rush is this season. As a player who has been equally balanced against both run and pass, Morgan figures to be a centerpiece of what most expect to be a much improved unit in all phases.
"The transition's been going pretty good...Getting more and more comfortable every day, so it's a learning process. But at the same time, it hasn't been too drastic of a change."
- Derrick Morgan, per TitansOnline
That said, the move to a stand-up linebacker spot carries with is many more responsibilities, including the physical demands of operating down the field as a cover man, and findings the creases at the second level to plug the run. While I predict Morgan will continue his impressive transition, there is little doubt that his performance and comfort level at this new spot throughout the season, will decide if the Titans defense can play outside contain against the run effectively, and generate enough pressure on the passer to get off the field on third down.
"He's doing really well, doing exactly what we thought he would do, what we saw in the spring...So we're hopeful that he'll have a good year. I think there's a lot of things to indicate that. He's a good player, really respect what I've seen of him on tape last year. Just excited to see him in this position."
Tennessee Titans Head Coach, Ken Whisenhunt
In a contract year, there are few Titans that are more important to the success or failure of the team in 2014.