By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — The expectations are quite different this season for the Tennessee Titans, assuming of course that there will be a complete NFL year. Last Friday the league gave the green light to teams for reporting to training camps last week. Rookies and undrafted free agents were allowed to report last Thursday, while veterans were expected to be in camp Tuesday.
After a run of consecutive 9-7 seasons topped by last year’s unexpected advance to the AFC title game, the Titans will no longer be regarded as a surprise team. They’re the highest rated AFC South team in Pro Football Talk’s preseason ratings, coming in at number eight. That also makes them the fourth highest among all AFC clubs.
The Titans resigned top running back Derrick Henry and starting QB Ryan Tannehill to extensions, and have 10 of 11 starters returning on an offense that averaged over 30 points a game while going on a 7-3 run. That helped them overcome a tepid 2-4 start. They are also returning nine of 11 starters on defense, though there’s some concern about replacing Jurrell Casey, who was a defensive pillar at tackle. They also lost Logan Ryan, their top slot corner, in free agency.
But the Titans hope that the return from injury of Malcolm Butler, the addition of veteran corner Johnathan Joseph, and drafting LSU’s Kristian Fulton will address that situation. They also released Dion Lewis, but drafted and signed running back Darrynton Evans last week. Evans was the 2019 Sun Belt Conference offensive player of the year, and is viewed as both a solid running back and explosive receiver. Fulton was their number two draft pick. Both he and number one pick, tackle Isiah Wilson, had not yet signed contracts at press time. The Titans open the 2020 season Sept. 14 on the road against the Denver Broncos, where they’ll be facing former teammate Casey in the second game of a televised NFL doubleheader.