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VOL. 46 | NO. 30 | Friday, July 29, 2022

Titans start camp with concerns on offense

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The Titans are depending on an injury-free Derrick Henry.

-- Photos By Donald Page | Tennessee Titans

Training camp has opened for the Tennessee Titans for 2022, and this year’s version of the team has seemingly flipped the script regarding issues facing the squad.

A year ago, the Titans entered training camp with an offense that featured Ryan Tannehill coming off a second consecutive outstanding season and quarterbacking an offense that featured 2,000-yard rusher Derrick Henry, 1,000-yard receiver A.J. Brown and the just-added future Hall of Fame receiver Julio Jones.

Conversely, the defense was coming off a season in which seemingly everyone but head coach Mike Vrabel wanted defensive coordinator Shane Bowen fired and half the players on that side of the ball replaced.

Now, as the Titans enter this year’s camp, things appear almost the opposite of last year. The defense made great strides throughout the year, as Jeffery Simmons emerged as a disrupter in the interior of the defensive line, safety Kevin Byard returned to his All-Pro form and holes from 2020 were plugged nicely, thanks in large part to a much-improved pass rush.

Bowen is no longer on the hot seat, but second-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing is after last season’s inconsistencies.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine is suddenly the elder statesman of the Titans’ young wide receivers.

The Titans’ offense that was supposed to attain even greater heights than in 2020 slumped instead, thanks to injuries and a change in philosophy. Henry suffered a broken foot halfway through the season, and though the Titans found capable fill-ins, never reached early season form.

Jones couldn’t stay healthy and was not enough of a factor to warrant a second season in two-tone blue. Tannehill did not adjust well to the three-receiver base set, and his interception total jumped to 14 after only 13 picks the previous two years combined.

Worst yet, Brown wanted his payday sooner rather than later and was dealt on draft day to the Philadelphia Eagles.

So, the offense starts over in this camp with plenty of questions.

Among the wide receiver and tight end corps, only Nick Westbrook-Ikhine returns with any meaningful offensive production from last year.

Elsewhere, there are free agent pickups (Robert Woods, Austin Hooper), rookies (Treylon Burks, Kyle Philips, Chig Okonkwo), reclamation projects (Josh Malone) and inexperienced second-year players (Racey McMath, Dez Fitzpatrick, Tommy Hudson) hoping to pick up the slack in the passing game.

If that’s not enough, the Titans are replacing 40% of their offensive line, searching for answers at left guard and right tackle before the season begins.

The good news? The Titans have Henry back and appears to be healthy and ready to return to his pre-injury form. That said, the Titans might want to not be so pedal-to-the-metal with their star running back and perhaps pace his carries a bit more so he still has plenty left for late in the season and the playoffs, assuming the Titans get that far.

Speaking of the playoffs, the Titans and Tannehill have plenty of unfinished business there. Given their recent regular-season success and their postseason fizzles the past two years, this Titans team won’t be judged by what it accomplishes in the regular season but rather whether it can break through and make a deep enough postseason run to at least reach the conference championship game again or finally break through to the Super Bowl.

That part of the equation is a long way off, but the first steps of that journey start in these early days of the 2022 camp.

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