What To Watch For During Titans’ OTAs: Offense
With the start of the NFL regular season just 100 days away, the Tennessee Titans are gearing up for their second week of offseason training activities (OTAs). And, there are a lot of things that Titans fans should keep their eyes on as OTAs progress into training camp and eventually, the preseason and regular season.
Let’s start with the offense:
Marcus Mariota’s Recovery
After suffering a fractured fibula in last season’s week 16 debacle against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota is looking to get back on the right track. From everything that I have heard and read, Mariota’s recovery is going as planned, and the Titans’ young star should be ready to go by the time preseason play kicks off in August. The Titans are hoping that their franchise quarterback can put together another solid season, much like he did in 2016 before his injury (276/451 passing, 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, 9 interceptions).
Who Will Become the Workhorse Running Back?
Going into last season, DeMarco Murray was the unquestioned lead running back. And, his numbers reflected the confidence that the Titans had in him going into the season (293 carries, 1,287 yards, 9 touchdowns). But, Murray’s production slowed down a little toward the end of last season, which allows for last year’s second round draft pick to take on a much larger workload in 2017.
Derrick Henry finished the 2016 campaign with 490 yards and 5 touchdowns on 110 rushing attempts. He also added 13 receptions for 137 yards as well. These numbers indicate that Henry is poised for a much larger role in the Titans’ offense this season. And, with the selection of California speedster Khalfani Muhammad in the NFL Draft, the Titans’ running back competition could get very interesting over the next few months.
How Will the Titans Receiving Corps Shake Out?
Last year, the Titans’ receiving corps produced absolutely abysmal numbers. Arguably the only bright spot last season, outside of tight end Delanie Walker, of course, was free agent acquisition Rishard Matthews, who finished the season with 65 receptions for 945 yards and 9 touchdowns.
This year, the receiving corps looks much better with the additions of first round draft pick Corey Davis, and third round draft picks Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith. It will be interesting to see what kind of combinations the Titans will use with these receivers. Could Rishard Matthews see more time in the slot, or will he stay on the outside? Will Taywan Taylor fill the role that the Titans envisioned for Kendall Wright? How will Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith be used? The Titans could come up with a few combinations that might surprise us in the coming months.
On paper, the Titans’ offense looks a lot different than it did a year ago. I expect the competition at running back and in the receiving corps will determine just how much better the team will be on the field. But, and this should come as a surprise to no one, the Titans’ success, or failure, on offense all boils down to how their quarterback performs upon his return from injury.