We round out our look at the Titans’ offensive line with a look at the offensive guards.
As was the case with the center and tackle positions, the Titans did not make any noteworthy additions at the position, so the depth chart at guard will likely be composed of some familiar faces. Right guard Jake Scott returns for his third season with the Titans. I didn’t think he played quite as well in 2009 as he did in 2008, but he was still solid and will hopefully return to his previous level of play this season.
With Eugene Amano moving from left guard over to center, that creates a void between Roos and the pivot position. We know that, barring injury or extraordinarily shockingly poor play, that void will be filled by 2007 draft pick Leroy Harris. Harris played two games in 2009, filling in for Amano at left guard in the loss to the Jets and for Stewart at right tackle in the win against the 49ers. I thought he played pretty well for the most part (I hope to have a detailed look at his play against the 49ers up later this week or this weekend), but Collins threw an interception when the Jets’ Sione Pouha got leverage against Harris and forced him back. Harris will need to play with more consistent leverage and show off his strength if he wants his starting tenure to be an extended one.
With Harris shifting into the starting lineup, it’s not clear who the backup is. Tackles Troy Kropog is also listed at guard on the official roster, and Mike Otto has been listed at guard in the past, but the latest word is offensive line coach Mike Munchak now views both of them as tackles and, per Andrew, they’ve been lining up that way at practice. Rather, the second string guards have been Nevin McCaskill, listed on the depth chart at left tackle, and last year’s seventh-round pick Ryan Durand. Per Andrew’s practice observations, John Malecki, listed at second-string left guard, is actually playing on the third unit.
In my pre-training camp roster prediction, roster prediction, I was down on Durand and McCaskill’s chances of making the roster. I’m still not sure there’s a place for a dedicated guard on the Titans roster. Because of positional versatility, I’d expect backup center Fernando Velasco to figure into the depth at guard. And, notwithstanding Munchak’s comments, I think the Titans like Otto and Kropog enough they want to keep both and will be content playing them inside if needed. The Titans have for the last few years kept themselves to 8 offensive linemen. If that’s the case again, Malecki, McCaskill, and Durand will almost certainly find themselves on the street on cutdown day.