Up next in our series of Tennessee Titans offseason positional analyses is the middle linebacker position.
During last year’s lockout-induced/abbreviated free agency signing period, the Titans allowed Stephen Tulloch to leave while reeling in former Buc Barrett Ruud as his replacement. Thankfully, Ruud was inked to only a one-year deal, courtesy of injuries and poor play that led to him only playing in 9 games during what’s probably going to be his only season as a Titan.
Meanwhile, on the brighter side of things, 2011 4th round pick Colin McCarthy stepped up in Ruud’s absence and did enough to prove that he’s the team’s starting MLB for the forseeable future.
More on the Titans’ state of affairs at MLB….after the jump.
Expected to serve primarily on special teams during his rookie campaign, McCarthy took advantage of Ruud’s injuries as he made quite a mark as a first-year player. He proved to be quite a playmaker on defense while also being a constant presence around opposing offensive players in the form of making a plethora of tackles.
McCarthy’s got an excellent motor and has a natural feel for the MLB position, which is no surprise considering he hails from the University Miami, which has produced its share of productive middle linebackers at the pro level.
Barring injury, McCarthy should serve as the Titans’ starting MLB for years to come.
Speaking of injury, Barrett Ruud’s 2011 season was stymied by them. Of course, when he was on the field, his level of production wasn’t exactly satisfactory either.
Of course, we were forewarned of Ruud’s inconsistencies by the Tampa Bay faithful, who were already familiar with his limitations, despite putting up stellar numbers in the tackles department during his days as a Buc.
Thanks to his status as an unrestricted free agent, Ruud’s available for the taking on the open market. Needless to say, I doubt that the Titans are interested in retaining his services.
Rest of the bunch
Known mostly for his special teams play, Tim Shaw is also a free agent. However, unlike Ruud, the Titans are apparently interested in bringing Shaw back.
Kevin Malast is listed as the team’s 3rd MLB on the offseason depth chart. Signed when Ruud went to the IR last December, Malast is a decent depth guy who also has some value on special teams.
It’s clearly the Colin McCarthy show at the MLB position. As for depth, Shaw (if he re-signs) and Malast are more special teamers than defensive regulars and if either is asked to do more, we’ll all be cringing.
If Shaw doesn’t re-sign, I expect some veteran to be signed for depth purposes or in case of a McCarthy injury. A guy like Lofa Tatupu, who has Seattle roots (an appealing quality to the Titans’ organization, for obvious reasons) could be an option. Also, I could see the Titans picking up some depth at the MLB position in the form of either a very late round draft selection or an undrafted free agent.
Any thoughts on the MLB position? Feel free to provide your always welcomed thoughts below.