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VOL. 40 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 18, 2016

Titans fans get rare taste of offseason excitement

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Former Texan and recent Titans free agent signee Ben Jones (60) could give Tennessee stability it has lacked at the position since parting with Kevin Mawae prior to the 2010 season. Offensive line was the team’s top weakness last season, leaving rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota vulnerable.

-- Matt Patterson Via Ap

For the first time in forever … Is it OK to borrow the line from the song in the Disney movie “Frozen” in order to get my point across about the Tennessee Titans? For the first time in forever, it seems, the “frozen” Titans fan base actually seems to be excited about where the team could be heading.

The core of an NFL team is built through the draft, and it’s another six weeks before new general manager Jon Robinson will be calling the shots for the first time in the draft war room.

But teams are supplemented by free agency, which helps to fill holes on a roster where maybe draft picks didn’t live up to expectations or players who have defected through free agency.

And judging from his first few days of free agency, it’s hard not to be excited about what Robinson and Coach Mike Mularkey are doing to try and restore the franchise to respectability.

The first move alone – trading for disgruntled Eagles running back DeMarco Murray – could be a felony heist if Murray comes anywhere close to being the back he was for the Dallas Cowboys in 2014. While no one is expecting Murray to run for 1,845 yards, as he did in his final year in Dallas, the Titans would gladly take 75 percent of that production and never look back.

For Murray to be that effective, the Titans will have to have a dramatically upgraded offensive line. That also is necessary to protect Marcus Mariota, Coach Mike Mularkey’s No. 1 edict from controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk.

To those ends, Robinson signed Ben Jones away from division rival Houston. He will be installed as the team’s starting center.

Center is one of those under-appreciated positions on a football team that often goes unnoticed when blitzes are picked up correctly and rushing lanes are open. But for a team like the Titans, which has had a revolving door at the position since moving on from Kevin Mawae before the 2010 season, it has been a major issue. Jones understands that much more is at stake for him than just snapping the football.

“You’ve got to have somebody that’s going to be the quarterback of the o-line,” Jones says. “So you take that role and you’ve got to make the decision for the line to get everybody on the same scheme.

“I take part in that and I take pride in making the calls, because if I’m wrong, everybody’s wrong. And if something happens, I’m going to take full ownership on it. That’s just part of the business that comes with it.”

Chances are, Robinson isn’t through patching holes on the offensive line.

He also addressed other issues, adding a potential starting receiver in Rishard Matthews and re-signing defensive tackle Al Woods.

Robinson’s work is far from finished, and the draft is where he will need to do his best work. Picking at the top of each round should allow the Titans to land immediate starters and impact players in the first three rounds.

But for the first time in forever, it feels like the Titans franchise might finally be thawing.

Jones a ‘unique’ character

In new center Jones, the Titans may have taken a big step toward solving their issues in the middle of the offensive line.

But at the very least, Jones is sure to be entertaining.

In addition to being a football player and a good ol’ country boy from Centreville, Alabama (population 2,500), Jones has some – shall we say – unique qualities.

Jones once won a bet with his former Houston Texans teammates by actually drinking his own urine.

“It paid for a nice weekend for me and my wife,” he said.

Jones’ wife, Alex, who was in attendance when he met the media said her husband always kisses her when he gets home, but that day, he went to brush his teeth first. Probably a good move, Ben.

And Jones doesn’t stop there. He’s also been known to eat cockroaches on a bet.

“It’s just a bug,” he says, pointing out that growing up on a farm he has probably eaten just about everything at some point or another. If you say so.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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