The Titans are in Year Two of their rebuilding plan under head coach Mike Munchak, and this could be the first year of the Jake Locker era under center. Locker redshirted for much of his rookie season while learning from veteran Matt Hasselbeck and will battle for the starting gig in training camp.
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Tennessee also will need greater contributions from running back Chris Johnson and its top receiver, Kenny Britt. Johnson struggled last season after signing his new contract, while Britt tore his ACL and was lost for the season during a Week 3 victory over Denver. Britt's health is a question mark and he is facing potential discipline after an offseason arrest.
Free agency led to several changes for Tennessee. Former Pro Bowl cornerback Cortland Finnegan left for greener pastures (St. Louis), and they also lost defensive linemen Jason Jones and William Hayes. Tennessee replaced them with defensive end Kamerion Wimbley and defensive tackle Leger Douzable.
Offensively, the Titans signed seven-time Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson to shore up the interior line. It appears as if free agency turned out to be a net loss on paper for the Titans, but that could change if Wimbley becomes the impact player they think he can be and if Hutchinson can channel the form which allowed him to be the NFL's premier interior lineman for much of his career.
The Titans are hoping Kamerion Wimbley can be a marquee player on their defense.
The Titans used their first-round pick on playmaking Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright. Tennessee chose speedy linebacker Zach Brown in the second round, followed by Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin in the third. The Titans rounded out their draft with Clemson cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, SMU tight end Taylor Thompson, Oklahoma State defensive back Markelle Martin and Rice defensive end Scott Solomon.
It seems that the Titans don't have many friends in the scheduling office as their beginning schedule is among the most difficult in the league. After opening with defending AFC champion New England at home, Tennessee travels to the West Coast to face San Diego before returning to Nashville to take on the upstart Detroit Lions. Trips to Houston and Minnesota then await them before returning home to rendezvous with Pittsburgh. A 1-5 start could await the Titans.
Tennessee will have a chance to make up ground from late October through Thanksgiving as they travel to Buffalo before returning home to face Indianapolis and Chicago before traveling to Miami, then taking a bye, then returning with a date against the Jaguars. Those teams combined for a 27-53 record a season ago. Tennessee closes with divisional match-ups in three of its final five games (Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville) as well as a home date against the Jets before traveling to Green Bay.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Chris Johnson, running back. Johnson continues to be the Titans' best weapon as the former 2,000-yard back tries to return to his old form.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Kamerion Wimbley, defensive end. Wimbley was the Titans' biggest free-agent signing and he's expected to bolster the team's pass rush as he has posted 16 sacks over the past two seasons.
WILL WIN DIVISION IF ...
Chris Johnson returns to the form of his first few seasons and the defensive additions outweigh the losses.