The Tennessee Titans linebacker corps is founded on veterans, but the team is also counting on some of its rookies to help in key roles this season.
Veteran pass rushers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan continue to capably man the outside linebacker spots, and provided a solid pass rush. But both are in the final years of their respective contracts, and the future at this position is a bit uncertain. The Titans gave up on Kevin Dodd, releasing him on Tuesday, and hope that second-round pick Harold Landry comes in and provides the needed depth that Dodd never did in his two years in Tennessee.
Beyond those three players, Aaron Wallace is next in line. He missed most of last year after having back surgery, but before the injury had earned his keep as an edge setter against the run and on special teams. Three other young players hoping to earn their keep with strong camps are 2017 seven-rounder Josh Carraway, waiver claim Gimel President, who knows Coach Mike Vrabel from being with hi in Houston and undrafted rookie Sharif Finch, who looks the part physically at 6-4, 250.
On the inside, the Titans have much better depth. Wesley Woodyard turned in a strong season last year, leading the Titans in tackles and staying in in most sub-packages after being subbed for in his previous two seasons in Tennessee. Avery Williamson departed to the Jets as a free agent, and the Titans responded by drafting Alabama’s Rashaan Evans in the first round. Evans figures to be a plug and play guy, but if he needs time to learn the pro game, the Titans hedged their bet by signing former Redskins player Will Compton to compete.
The Titans also have Jayon Brown in the mix. Brown was the team’s nickel linebacker as a rookie and performed well in that role. The undersized Brown put on some weight in the off-season with the hope of catapulting himself into the mix for a larger role this year.
Other backups on the roster include veterans Nate Palmer and Daren Bates, who will earn their keep on special teams.
The Titans seem comfortable with their starters across the board and the depth on the inside. The biggest looming question will be how much can they get from Landry as a third rusher, and who will step up and solidify that fourth rusher to spell the starters.