Next up in our continuing series of Tennessee Titans positional analyses is middle linebacker.
As the case with several positions due to the coaching switch from Jeff Fisher to Mike Munchak, change has also reared its head at MLB. With former starter Stephen Tulloch venturing to Tennessee North a.k.a Detroit to join Jim Schwartz and his troops, free agent-signee Barrett Ruud will now take on the responsibility of being the man in the middle for the Titans in 2011.
Is Ruud an upgrade over Tulloch? We’ll answer that question and more…after the jump.
I’ll be honest…I really can’t complain about the signing of the solid and steady Ruud. He’s extremely durable, as evidenced by playing in all 16 games in all but one of his six seasons in the NFL. In addition to his ability to stay healthy, he’s also a tackling machine and occasional playmaker.
Tulloch’s energy and high motor will be missed a bit, but the Titans should have a smooth transition at MLB thanks to Ruud’s leadership, tackling and playmaking abilities. For the icing on the cake, Ruud is much better at coverage than the guy he replaced.
To make a long story short, Ruud should do a fine job stepping in for Tulloch at MLB.
Selected in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL Draft, McCarthy provides the Titans with a youngster to develop at the MLB position. He’s a natural leader who relies on his instincts to tackle the opposition.
During preseason action, McCarthy often displayed a nice motor and in the finale against the Saints, he stepped up with seven tackles and a forced fumble.
With Ruud manning the fort as the starter, McCarthy’s rookie season will mostly be spent on special teams.
The rest of the bunch
Sitting third on the team’s depth chart at MLB is special-teamer Tim Shaw, who’s probably known more for being one the guys reeled in courtesy of the Titans’ ill-fated decision to release RB LeGarrette Blount last September.
Veterans Will Witherspoon and Gerald McRath are listed at the OLB position but both have experience playing middle linebacker. However, barring injuries to Ruud and McCarthy, I’ll doubt if either sees action at MLB in 2011.
Any thoughts on how the Titans stack up at MLB? Feel free to voice your opinions below.