Defensive Line |Click here to view other position reviews.
The Titans' defensive line added free agent signee Kamerion Wimbley to recent high draft picks Derrick Morgan (first round, 2010), Jurrell Casey (third round, 2011) and Sen'Derrick Marks (second round, 2009), and the starting front four increased their productivity as the 2012 season progressed.
Wimbley, Morgan and Casey started all 16 games, and Marks recovered from an injury during the preseason to start the final 14 games. The continuity, as well as an offseason emphasis on improving the pass rush, produced results. Tennessee recorded at least four sacks a game in four of its final six games.
The Titans finished 2012 with 39 sacks, up from 28 in 2011, although 13.5 of those were recorded by linebackers and defensive backs. Tennessee's starting front four also accounted for 36 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss. Tennessee recorded season highs of seven sacks in each game against Jacksonville this season.
The defensive line delivered the necessary surge on the final play against Detroit to secure the wild, 44-41 overtime victory against the Lions in Week 3. The Titans were prepared for a quick snap that was fumbled by Shaun Hill.
Morgan's consistency and versatility against the pass and the run through the 16-game season was one of the most encouraging aspects of the defense in 2012. Morgan suffered an ACL injury in the fourth game of his rookie season, and his production climbed each of the past two seasons. Click here to watch Morgan's assessment of the way Tennessee's defense improved.
"I was very blessed to be healthy and play the whole season. There were some plays I left out there, but I'd like to keep building on my performance this year and keep getting better," Morgan said when the Titans cleaned out their lockers the day after the season ended. "I feel a lot more confident. I found my way out there, and feeling better on the field has a lot to do with it."
Casey and Marks developed their relationship into one that made each other stronger. Click here to watch an interview that Marks had with "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith on Titans All Access.
and Wimbley adjusted to his move from outside linebacker in 3-4 defenses to defensive end in the Titans' 4-3 scheme. Click here to watch Wimbley's assessment of his first season with the Titans.
Rookie Mike Martin, a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, and second-year pro Karl Klug were the Titans' top two reserves at defensive tackle. Klug's numbers were down slightly from 2011 when he led the Titans with seven sacks, but some of that was attributed to the fact that Tennessee did not put opponents in as many situations where passes were more likely than runs as often this season.
Seventh-round pick Scott Solomon and undrafted rookie DaJohn Harris played in 13 and seven games, respectively, and Jarius Wynn contributed after joining the Titans on Nov. 7.
Titans coach Mike Munchak said recently that the team will look to add size and depth on the defensive line possibly through free agency and/or the 2013 NFL Draft.
Tennessee thought it had done so prior to the 2012 season by re-signing Dave Ball and signing free agents Leger Douzable and Keyunta Dawson, but all three players suffered season-ending injuries. Ball and Douzable were hurt before the regular season started, and Dawson was placed on injured reserve Sept. 26.
Here are the stats posted by Tennessee's defensive line in 2012:
Derrick Morgan (16 starts/16 games played): 59 tackles (35 solo, 24 assists), 6.5 sacks-42.5 yards, 19 quarterback hits, five tackles for loss, five passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery
Jurrell Casey (16/16): 80 tackles (38 solo, 42 assists), 3.0 sacks-31 yards, three quarterback hits, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles
Sen'Derrick Marks (14/16): 63 tackles (31 solo, 32 assists), 1.5 sacks-12 yards, five quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, three passes defensed, one forced fumble
Kamerion Wimbley (16/16): 38 tackles (18 solo, 20 assists), 6.0 sacks-42 yards, nine quarterback hits, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery
Mike Martin (1/16):40 tackles (23 solo, 17 assists), 3.0 sacks-12 yards, three quarterback hits, five tackles for loss
Karl Klug (1/16): 12 tackles (eight solo, four assists), 3.5 sacks-20 yards, five quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, one pass defended
Scott Solomon (0/13): nine tackles (three solo, six assists), three special teams tackles
DaJohn Harris: (0/7): five tackles (one solo, four assists)
Jarius Wynn: (0/7): 12 tackles (six solo, six assists), 2.0 sacks-9 yards, one tackle for loss, one pass defended
Pannel Egboh (0/6): two tackles (two solo), one tackle for loss before his release on Nov. 6 Keyunta Dawson (0/3): five tackles (three solo, two assists) before being placed on injured reserve on Sept. 26