Titans positional analysis – defensive ends

The defensive position which gives me the most concern this year is defensive end, specifically on the right side. It was a liability last year which wasn’t addressed at all in free agency and not until late in the draft.
I did another positional analysis on the DEs in January, if you’re interested. I’ll try not to repeat too much of it here and give some fresh outlook after the offseason developments.
The Titans generally keep four DEs on the roster but usually make one of them inactive on game days, rotating the other three in and out.
These are the men who will compete for the projected four roster spots.
Kyle Vanden Bosch – KVB played far too many snaps last year. The Titans hope they can play him less snaps this season, making him more effective on the others. Primarily a left DE, he’s worked a little from the right side and may play some there this year. I’d personally love to see that if it happens. Vanden Bosch led all Titans’ d-linemen in both tackles (75) and sacks (6½) in 2006.
Travis LaBoy – He’s been the best pass rusher from the right side the last two years, but that’s not saying much. He only had 3½ sacks last year. LaBoy has beefed up some this offseason and looks more muscular. I hope that will improve his game, especially against the run.
Antwan Odom – Every year, Odom comes to camp looking good. He does well until shortly after the start of the season and then has a decline in productivity and/or is injured. When he is able to play later in the year, he fatigues easily. One of his problems is his inability to maintain his weight, which drops as the season progresses. If history repeats, Odom will perform well enough to earn a roster spot and then have his usual dropoff or get injured again. He’s shown a knack for blocking kicks, but he was drafted to do a lot more than that, which he hasn’t.
Jacob Ford – A sixth-round draft pick, Ford is a speed rusher who supposedly had the second-fastest 40-yard time of all the rookie DEs this spring. If he makes the team, he should be used most often in pass situations. At 249 pounds, he’s too light to be an effective run-stopper and looks to be one-dimensional.
Tony Brown – Brown is designated as a DT/DE, so he could make the team at either position. Last year he played at both and did fairly well. As a DE, he’d help out more against the run than the pass. Brown recovered two fumbles last year, returning one for a touchdown and lateraling to Keith Bulluck for a TD on the other. Tony was picked up as a street free agent after the Haynesworth suspension last year and I like what he did for the team both during and after Albert’s five games off. I’d like to see him make the team this year.
Sean Conover – After injuries took their toll on the d-line last year, Conover appeared in six games as a replacement.
Josh Savage – He saw action in five games last year under the same circumstances.
Jermaine McElveen – He shouldn’t be anything more than a camp body but will have a chance to show what he can do.
KVB is the only one in the group who’s a cinch to make the team. Expect the foursome of LaBoy, Odom, Ford and Brown to compete for the other three spots. Conover, Savage and McElveen should have little chance of making the team.
I won’t be a bit surprised if the Titans pick up another DE when roster cuts are made around the league on August 28 and September 1. Even if that happens, it will still be hard not to be concerned about the position.

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