TitansOnline.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt breaks down the defensive line position for the Titans entering the team’s 2017 training camp.
TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: DEFENSIVE LINEIn camp: DE/DT Jurrell Casey, DL DaQuan Jones, NT Sylvester Williams, DL Austin Johnson, DL Karl Klug, DE Angelo Blackson, NT Antwaun Woods, DE Mehdi Abdesmad, NT DeAngelo Brown, DE Cameron Robbins, DE Jimmy Staten, DE/OLB Kourtnei Brown.
Offseason developments: The Titans signed Williams, formerly with the Broncos, in free agency. Williams was limited during the offseason work after a procedure on his ankle, but he’s expected to be ready to go for training camp. The team also re-signed defensive lineman Karl Klug. Like Williams, Klug used the offseason to recover from surgery (Achilles), but he’s made progress and should be ready at some point during camp as well. The Titans released Al Woods, who ended up signing with the Colts. The team added several undrafted free agents, and also saw improvement from one of their undrafted players from a year ago in Woods, who got extended work with Williams sidelined.In the spotlight: Casey. Coming off his second straight Pro Bowl season, Casey continues to be a leader for the Titans. He’s kept himself in top-notch shape, and it showed during organized team activities. Casey should benefit from the improved personnel around him, from the addition of Williams to help in the secondary. Casey has tallied 12 sacks over the past two seasons combined, including five last season. Look for him to be as disruptive as ever this fall.
Battle to watch: Roster spots. This is arguably the deepest group on the roster, with more quality players than spots available. Not everyone will make it. Angelo Blackson and Mehdi Abdesmad will be among those fighting for spots behind Casey and the underrated Jones on the outside, and Kourtnei Brown moved from linebacker to defensive end in camp. The Titans expect Klug to be ready to compete at some point during camp as well. Meanwhile, Staten impressed during the offseason and looks to contend as well.Keep an eye on: Williams. He’s the new guy on the block on the defensive line, and up to this point the Titans haven’t really been able to see what they have in him as he’s recovered from ankle surgery. Williams (6-2, 313) is a load, and his presence should be felt by opposing offenses, especially the interior linemen trying to block him. Williams will allow Casey to make more plays, and he also figures to be a popular guy with the team’s inside linebackers, who should be freed up more themselves because of the big man.
Next up: Linebackers.