A move and maybe a hint for Titans
In a facebook Titans group yesterday, a person(I do not have permission to release his name and will leave him anonymous) did some hmmm “detective work.” It absolutely means nothing, but it is surely an eye-brow raising curious find.
This gentleman was cruising the web and came across Dont’a Hightower’s Instagram page. He writes that he was checking out some of the rumored free agent targets of the Titans. Hightower is near Nashville. He is about an hour away posting pictures on Instagram.
Next, this guy notices the names in Hightower’s “recent followers” on Instagram. They are Avery Williamson, Jason McCourty, Chance Warmack, and Derrick Henry.
It is totally possible that Hightower is just visiting his hometown. It’s also possible that the free agent linebacker made some friends that play football. For these events to happen the day before free agency begins, it’s curious. He doesn’t need to be in Nashville to sign with the Titans. In this day and age, everything can be done electronically and he also has an agent to do all the leg-work. He is nearby and it does present an interesting hmmmm…thought.
Titans nose tackle Al Woods was released. I was not a fan of his re-signing last offseason and have written plenty of him. This is not a surprise to me at all.
Initially, the Titans “let him walk” in free agency. They were ineffective against runs up the middle and did not re-sign Woods or Sam Hill. For 2015, they were both the starting nose tackle at different times.
The Titans drafted Austin Johnson and got a steal of an undrafted free agent in Antwaun Woods. Antwaun would run with the second team for most of camp and even got some time with the ones. Johnson was a second-round pick that looked “rough” but his athleticism was evident.
During the season, Johnson filled in for Jurrell Casey pretty well for a game or two. For a big guy, he could move and (again) his athleticism was notable. He was inactive often and didn’t make a big impact at the nose tackle position.
During the season, Antwaun was on the practice squad and curiously not activated/promoted to the active roster. The Titans were one of the worst at stopping runs up the middle and yet here was this “solution” on the sideline. This “solution” that was impressive during the preseason. Antwaun finally got in in week 17. He didn’t just play a couple plays, but played a significant amount and played exactly like he had in preseason. There is usually a learning curve and some lesser play from rookies in their first game. That wasn’t the case. In the most complimentary sense, Antwaun is a beast with nice feet. “You are not moving him” was the very simple yet effective sentiment often uttered about him at USC the year before. That’s how he played- perfect description.
Two years ago, the Titans drafted Angelo Blackson to play nose tackle. Ken Whisenhunt would comment how he was more athletic than they expected. Blackson would catch a touchdown pass in a preseason game as a tight end. Obviously, “he can move” for a nose tackle. Blackson would play some nose tackle in 2016, but he received more time at defensive end. Blackson was also inactive for several games.
The Titans could still address the nose tackle position in free agency or the draft and add another player. I like Antwaun as the starter and find him to be very effective. The Titans only played him one game though. They also seem to be unsure and/or possibly they believe the nose tackles are all similar. If a player is inactive often, it’s a stretch to state that the team relies on that player or considers him a starter. Young players often “need some seasoning” as rookies and play far better in year two with a better understanding of the NFL game. There’s a myriad of guesses we could make here. Foremost is probably that the Titans want someone to step up and be “the man” and establish themselves as the starter. If the Titans add another player to the mix, it would likely be a veteran. The Titans don’t lack quality young talent, so adding another, seems almost like a bit of “overkill.” A team can never have enough good young talent but…cmon.
Another possibility is simply that Johnson and Blackson are defensive ends. The Titans could add a player or two to be nose tackles with Antwaun and then raise the level of competition at defensive end by permanently moving those two outside.