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2012 Season Rewind: Offensive Line

Posted Jan 9, 2013

Titans Online is taking a look back at the 2012 season by position group.

Offensive Line | Click here to view other position reviews.

Tennessee’s offensive line grew as the season neared its midpoint, but injuries and temporary illnesses defined the latter half of the 2012 season for the group.

The Titans’ offensive line had one of its best performances of the season in Week 7 in Buffalo when Tennessee rushed for 197 net yards and threw for 193 net yards. Linemen frequently gave Chris Johnson the space he needed and he responded with a season-high 195 yards and two touchdowns, and Jamie Harper added two more short TD runs in the 35-34 victory.

After that game, however, left tackle Michael Roos needed an emergency appendectomy. Recovery from the surgery forced Roos — one of the most durable players in franchise history and the NFL — to miss Week 8. It ended his streak of 119 consecutive starts.

Roos returned the following week and played through a knee problem in Weeks 14 and 15 and finished the season strong. By season’s end he was the only starter on the offensive line who had not been placed on injured reserve.

Left guard Steve Hutchinson and right tackle David Stewart suffered season-ending injuries in the same game against Houston on Dec. 2. Stewart suffered a broken leg on the Titans’ third offensive play of the game when he got landed on from behind while making a block that freed Chris Johnson for a 26-yard gain. Stewart was replaced by Mike Otto.

Hutchinson, who was chosen to seven straight Pro Bowls (2003-09) and signed with the Titans last spring, suffered a knee injury in the second quarter against the Texans and was replaced by Kevin Matthews. Hutchinson was forced back onto the field for one play in the third quarter when Michael Roos missed one play because of injury.

The injury to Roos prompted a shuffle by Titans coaches, who moved Otto to left tackle, Hutchinson to left guard, Matthews to center and starting center Fernando Velasco to right tackle. Only right guard Deuce Lutui lined up in his starting spot for a third-and-10 play on which QB Jake Locker scrambled for a 15-yard gain but fumbled the football at the Tennessee 36.

Velasco claimed the starting job at center in training camp after nine-year veteran Eugene Amano suffered a torn triceps. Velasco started the first 12 games at center, then two games at left guard while Matthews started at center. Velasco moved back to center on Dec. 23 after Matthews injured an ankle Dec. 17 and started at left guard in the final game of the season as the Titans continued to maneuver their lineup to offset injuries. Click here to watch an interview Velasco had with “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith on Titans All Access.

All told, the Titans used six different starting combinations on the offensive line and three different lineups in the final three weeks of the season. The chart below shows the different combinations of players the Titans started on their offensive line in 2012.

Game(s)

Left Tackle

Left Guard

Center

Right Guard

Right Tackle

1-7

Michael  Roos

Steve  Hutchinson

Fernando  Velasco

Leroy  Harris

David  Stewart

8

Mike  Otto

Steve  Hutchinson

Fernando  Velasco

Leroy  Harris

David  Stewart

9-12

Michael  Roos

Steve  Hutchinson

Fernando  Velasco

Deuce  Lutui

David  Stewart

13-14

Michael  Roos

Fernando  Velasco

Kevin  Matthews

Deuce  Lutui

Mike  Otto

15

Michael  Roos

Mitch  Petrus

Fernando  Velasco

Deuce  Lutui

Byron  Stingily

16

Michael  Roos

Fernando  Velasco

Kyle  DeVan

Deuce  Lutui

Byron  Stingily

Titans coach Mike Munchak said in his 15 years of coaching offensive line he never experienced anything quite like what second-year offensive line coach Bruce Matthews navigated this season.

Lutui started the final eight games of the season after replacing Leroy Harris, who suffered a season-ending injury Oct. 28 against Indianapolis.

Otto started two games in place of Stewart but came down with flu-like illness during Tennessee’s trip to Green Bay and was replaced by 2011 sixth-round draft pick Byron Stingily, who had a solid game against the Packers in his first start. Stingily’s first significant playing time prompted coaches to take another look at him in the finale against Jacksonville.

Kyle DeVan, who was signed and released multiple times during the season so Tennessee could stay within the 53-man roster limit, replaced Kevin Matthews against the Jets and made a key block for Johnson’s franchise-record 94-yard run. DeVan closed 2012 by starting against Jacksonville. Mitch Petrus, who was claimed off waivers from New England on Dec. 5, made one start at left guard.

Munchak said in his season-ending press conference “we know we’re going to build the offensive line” this offseason.

“That’s exciting to me, to get some young guys,” Munchak said. “We haven’t done that since we drafted Roos and Stewart back in that year when we got them (2005). We’re going to get some young guys to add to the offensive line, which will be exciting to do.”

Click here for a slideshow of the Titans' offensive line in 2012.

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