2007 season recap
Playoff push: The Titans won six of their first eight games before enduring a three-game losing streak in Weeks 10-12. A three-game win streak to close out the season, including a playoff clinching win at Indianapolis in Week 17 gave Tennessee momentum heading into the postseason, but they failed to get into the endzone against the Chargers, losing 17-6 in the Wild Card round.
Key camp questions:
Will Alge Crumpler return to the Pro Bowl playing with Vince Young?
Forget about an elite wideout, Vince Young needs a strong route-runner that can make catches in the red zone and bail him out when forced to leave the pocket. Enter Crumpler, whose success with Michael Vick - the QB to whom Young is most often compared - compelled the Titans to sign the former Pro Bowl TE. A knee injury and a shaky QB situation hurt his numbers some last season, so the Titans will test him early during camp as he and Young look to establish some early chemistry in Mike Heimerdinger's offense. If Crumpler's knee holds up, Young may have just found his safety net.
Who will Young be throwing to (other than Crumpler)?
It's a new season, but the same questions regarding Young's lack of throwing options exist heading into his third training camp. Justin McCareins returns to the team that drafted him, but the nine-year veteran hasn't been the same since he left Tennessee in 2004. Justin Gage showed flashes last season as the team's leading receiver (55 receptions). Mike Williams has reportedly taken an ultimatum from head coach Jeff Fisher to heart and dropped 30 pounds in what may be his last chance to make a team in the NFL.
How will safety Chris Hope return from a serious neck injury?
Defensive backs coach Chuck Cecil has to like the fact that his secondary returns all four starters from last season. But there is cause for concern with Hope - perhaps the team's most proven DB - who was placed on IR after suffering a serious neck injury in Week 12. Hope says he is ready to participate in training camp, but if he can't the Titans' secondary could take a serious hit. Calvin Lowry stepped in last year when Hope went down, but he's the same player that was ultimately replaced by rookie Michael Griffin at free safety midway through the season. Vincent Fuller is a reliable nickelback, but may not have the size to take the punishment a safety endures week after week. Donnie Nickey has been a solid special teams player, but has little experience on defense.
Key position battle
G Eugene Amano vs G Leroy Harris: Six-time Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae is the line's anchor and the Titans like what they have at both tackle positions, signing both Michael Roos and David Stewart to long-term deals this offseason. Jake Scott replaces Benji Olson at right guard, leaving the left guard position, formerly manned by Jacob Bell, up for grabs. There is no clear cut favorite between Harris, who is heading into just his second season, and Amano, who in five seasons has started eight games, including five last season.
RB Chris Johnson: He may not be the game-changing WR Young has been craving, but the speedy RB out of East Carolina can provide something else Young has never had at his disposal - a pass catching running back. The Titans have options at the running back position with LenDale White coming off a solid sophomore season and second-year back Chris Henry showing potential. White will continue to get the bulk of the carries between the tackles, but look for Johnson to add a different gear to this offense.
Player on the spot
DE Jevon Kearse: The Titans need someone to replace the departed Antwan Odom and Randy Starks and they are hoping that Kearse's return to the team that drafted him will effectively revive his career. It will be hard to shed the "injury-plagued" label Kearse has received over the last couple of seasons, but when he's been healthy Kearse has been as dominant as they come. If he plays, the Titans front line of Kearse, DT Albert haynesworth and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch will scare a lot of offensive lines. If he can't stay on the field, the Titans will probably rely on one of the two rookie ends they drafted this year.
TE Alge Crumpler: Crumpler failed to meet expectations last season, but he should bounce back as the safety net for Vince Young in Tennessee. He'll be drafted as a No. 2 fantasy tight end, but Crumpler has a chance to re-emerge into a starter in leagues with 12-plus teams.