ON THE ROSTER: S –
KEY ADDITIONS: S – Marqueston Huff (Draft, 4th Rnd. 122 overall)
KEY DEPARTURES: CB – Alterruan Verner (Free Agency)
Much of the attention to the secondary during preseason will be on the #2 cornerback position. The departure of 2013 Pro Bowler Alterruan Verner leaves big shoes to fill. Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson are the top options to start opposite sixth-year pro Jason McCourty. It’s a competition in the strict sense of the word, but not one that will leave the loser on the sideline. In today’s pass-happy NFL, a nickel corner is on the field more often than not to cover the slot receiver. One of the two will find themselves in that position. Both Wreh-Wilson and Sensabaugh are expected to be key cogs in the team’s defensive backfield in 2014.
The club’s big offseason move in the secondary was resigning veteran safety Bernard Pollard to keep him in Tennessee for two more seasons. Pollard joins veterans Michael Griffin and George Wilson to form one of the NFL’s most experienced safety trios.
The team’s top cornerback enters his sixth season with the Titans after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
A steady tackler, McCourty has continued to progress each season and serves as one of the veteran leaders on defense. A lot will be expected of McCourty with the departure of Verner as the team has confidence in his ability to cover the game’s top receivers.
McCourty did not record an interception last season but ranked second on the team with 16 passes defended and scored a long touchdown on special teams at Seattle. He will look to get closer to his 2012 numbers when he posted a career-high four interceptions.
#33 Michael Griffin – FS – 8th NFL Season
Griffin has been a staple in the Titans secondary since being drafted in the first round out of Texas in the 2007 draft. The safety has been as durable as they come, playing in all but two games as a pro. He has 22 career interceptions and will continue to play a key role in the team’s defense.
It took just one season in Tennessee for Pollard to become the heartbeat of the Titans defense. His physicality on the field and leadership in the locker room has made him a player that teammates rally around.
One of the league’s biggest hitters, he signed a two-year contract this offseason to keep him in Tennessee through 2015.
Pollard led the team last season with 142 tackles and added three interceptions. The defensive captain has high hopes for the coming season and knows what it takes to get to the promise land, having won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2012.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
#24 Coty Sensabaugh – CB – 3rd NFL Season
Sensabaugh served as the team’s primary nickel corner in 2013, but is a candidate to replace Verner and start opposite Jason McCourty on the outside. The fourth-round pick from 2012 has continued to impress the new coaching staff and should be a big part of the team’s defense regardless of where he lines up this season.
Wreh-Wilson has made great strides since coming to Tennessee as a rookie in 2013 and will have an opportunity to compete for a starting spot. At 6-feet-1 inches tall, the Titans might prefer to have his size on the outside. Wreh-Wilson was an outside corner at Connecticut where he was named the team’s MVP his senior season. All signs point to Wreh-Wilson being a much bigger factor in 2014 than primarily a member of special teams like he was during his rookie season.
#21 George Wilson – S – 9th NFL Season
Wilson joined the Titans last season after spending his first eight seasons in Buffalo. The Bills converted Wilson from wide receiver, and the veteran safety played in all 16 games for the Titans in 2013, including three starts. Wilson recorded 40 total tackles and one interception – a one-hander to clinch a victory at Jacksonville. His knowledge of the game and steady influence on and off the field has paid dividends for the team’s younger players. He will likely assume a similar role in 2014 as a key reserve and contributor on defense and special teams.