We continue to take a look at the Tennessee Titans position by position and today will examine the status of the tackles.
The Titans have a pretty simple and straightforward situation at the tackle positions. They have two established starters signed through the 2014 season but have questionable depth behind them. Fortunately, the starting tackles have been remarkably healthy over their careers, missing only two starts between them. If the starters can remain healthy, the lack of depth won’t really be a problem. However, I cringe at the thought of losing either of them for more than a game or two this year and suspect QB Matt Hasselbeck does as well.
We’ll look individually at the Titans’ four tackles, after the jump.
Michael Roos has never missed a game or a start in his seven-year career, starting in all 112 regular season games since being drafted in the second round in 2005. He’s been the Titans’ best o-lineman for three of the past four years, in my opinion. The fixture at left tackle has been quietly effective, and except for his 2008 All-Pro season, has gone largely unnoticed. Given some of the outstanding tackles throughout the league and the AFC, such as Joe Thomas and Jake Long, that’s understandable.
The one year in the past four in which I didn’t think Roos was the Titans’ best o-lineman, 2009, it was David Stewart. Since taking over as the right tackle in the third game of the 2006 season, he’s started 92 of 94 games and was selected second-team All-Pro in 2008, although his best season may have been in 2009. Since Kevin Mawae left, the Titans haven’t really had a lineman with a nasty attitude, but I believe Big Country is the closest thing to one. I would have loved for Harvey Dahl to come to the Titans and play with Stewart to help bring out the nasty in him. Stewart is probably my favorite Titan and my favorite jersey is a Stewart game-worn one.
That was the easy and enjoyable part of this piece. We now move along to the depth at tackle, which could be a problem if either Roos or Stewart go down.
T/G Mike Otto has been the #3 tackle for the last several years and most of his playing time on offense has been as a tackle-eligible extra tight end. OCs Mike Heimerdinger and Chris Palmer must not have had much faith in Otto’s hands, as I don’t recall him ever being targeted. Otto has one career start as a tackle, which occurred when Stewart missed the Tampa Bay game last year. Besides his work as an extra tackle/TE in jumbo packages, Otto is also a regular on the kick return team and FG/XP team. The Titans just re-signed Otto to a two-year extension.
In this piece, Tom was cynical about the Titans re-signing Otto because they didn’t think Byron Stingily was prepared to be the swing tackle and it’s hard to disagree with that. The next down the second-year tackle plays in a regular season game will be his first. I hope Stingily will improve enough to surpass Otto on the depth chart this year, to take his place as the third tackle.
I believe the Titans might sign a free agent tackle as a backup, if one they like becomes available. I doubt if they draft a tackle though, unless one with a high grade is still available in the later rounds. We can expect to see Tennessee sign a few undrafted free agents, who should be nothing more than training camp fodder.