Football is officially back. All NFL teams will report for camp this week, with the Titans reporting on Thursday. Its the official start of the Marcus Mariota era in Nashville. It's also a chance for certain players to take the next step forward and push for more playing time. With all the turnover on the roster this season, the Titans have no shortage of positional battles entering camp. Here are a few to keep an eye on over the next month.
Right Tackle: Poutasi vs. Bell
Right tackle is easily the most unsettled position on the entire roster to me. Ruston Webster brought in two new bodies this season, hoping for an upgrade over Byron Stingily and the departed Michael Oher. Byron Bell played out of place last year in Carolina, protecting Cam Newton's blindside. He struggled in this area, but has an opportunity to shine in Tennessee back in his more natural position.
Jeremiah Poutasi will be given every opportunity to win this job. Some analysts believe that he may fit better on the interior, but it looks like the Titans will give him time on the outside first. I was not impressed with Poutasi's college tape playing on the left side. A move to the right side should help his NFL transition, but his ultimate home is likely as a guard.
Running Back: Cobb vs. Andrews
I think Bishop Sankey has starting job locked down, but there are still plenty of carries up for grabs. Antonio Andrews seems to be a forgotten man, mainly because Whisenhunt didn't give him many opportunities to showcase what he could do. Now with David Cobb in the fold, it appears Andrews could be set to take the backseat again. Andrews is a thick back, similar in stature to Cobb. Cobb offers more "wiggle," while Andrews offers more power. This preseason is crucial for Andrews to prove that he belongs with Sankey and Cobb. As we saw last season with Whisenhunt's handling of then rookie Bishop Sankey, Andrews may start out with an edge over Cobb.
Defensive Line: Martin vs. Pitoitua vs. Blackson vs. Lott
The defensive line appears to be settled at the top, but it's a mess after that. There are a pile of players competing for the first few rotational spots with a good mix of veterans against rookies. Ropati Pitoitua and Karl Klug handled most of the backup snaps last season, but the additions of Angelo Blackson and Derrick Lott could change things up. Blackson and Lott have the ideal size to garner time at the five tech position and could easily supplant Pitoitua and Mike Martin out of jobs.
Wide Receiver: Green-Beckham vs. Hunter; Nicks vs. McBride
Virtually anyone not named Kendall Wright is fighting for playing time on the wide receiver depth chart. This group looks a lot different from last year as Harry Douglas, Hakeem Nicks, Dorial Green-Beckham and Tre McBride look to make their marks.
Justin Hunter will get one final shot to prove that he belongs this season. Now more than ever, Hunter must produce. He has Dorial Green-Beckham ready to take his place in the offense if he can't. Green-Beckham will play his first live snaps this preseason since the 2013 season at Missouri, so I'm not expecting him to fly out of the gates initially.
Hakeem Nicks and Tre McBride will likely fight it out for the final receiver spot in camp. McBride's transition from FCS competition to the NFL may allow Nicks to win this job immediately, but I think he has an eventual spot on this roster. He's going to end up being a guy that you can't keep off of the field.