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TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: TIGHT ENDS**
Offseason developments: **Walker played in his second straight Pro Bowl after last season, and he spent a week during the early part of the offseason in the Middle East meeting with troops as part of an NFL-sponsored USO Tour. More recently, he's looked good in all the organized team activities and minicamp. The Titans added another talented tight end in Smith, who was selected in the third round out of Florida International. Supernaw was re-signed in March, while Anthony Fasano is no longer around -- he signed with the Miami Dolphins.
In the spotlight: Walker. He’s been one of the team’s most productive players over the past few years, and that’s expected to continue this fall. Walker tied for a team-high 65 catches in 2016, and he was second in receiving yards with 800. If you know Walker even a little bit you know he’s going to fight for his spot, playing time and opportunities. A month away from his 33rd birthday, he bristles at the suggestion he’s slowing down. The 12th-year pro should be fun to watch again in camp because he’s a tone-setter who takes pride in having others watch, and learn from him. Smith should enjoy the show while making strides himself.
Battle to watch: **Amaro vs. Cunningham. Amaro is talented, and he can win matchups and catch passes downfield because of his athleticism. He proved it when he got a chance to play – three catches for 59 yards vs the Raiders – and he’s shown it in practices. Can the former Jet hold up as a blocker? Well, he’s still trying to prove he can. Cunningham (6-3, 250) is sturdier in the run game, and coaches like his physical style of play. The Titans will keep at least three tight ends, and Walker, Smith and Supernaw figure to be the three. Can Amaro or Cunningham prove to coaches and management they deserve to stick around as well?
Keep an eye on: Smith. Many draft analysts compared Smith to Walker before the NFL Draft, and after watching Smith during the offseason workouts, I understand why. Smith has good size (6-3, 248) and speed, and he catches the ball well. He’s determined to prove he’s more than capable as a blocker as well. Coaches have thrown a lot on Smith’s plate early, and so far he hasn’t looked overwhelmed. With a strong training camp and preseason, Smith could earn more opportunities – and targets -- on the field on Sundays.
Next up: Offensive line.