Avery Williamson Midseason Rookie Defensive MVP

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Over the course of the next four days, I'll give out four midseason awards for defensive rookie of the year, offensive rookie of the year, defensive player of the year and offensive player of the year.

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We'll start this series with the Titans top defensive rookie this season -- Avery Williamson. The inside linebacker out of Kentucky is an easy choice for the award and he's arguably been the team's best defensive player since being thrust into the starting lineup in Week 5 against the Browns.

 In his four starts, Williamson has recorded 25 total tackles, including his best game as a pro last week against Houston when he led the Titans with 10 tackles and logged his first career quarterback sack.

Williamson also recovered a fumble in back-to-back games against the Jaguars and Redskins. The first came deep in Titans territory when Jason McCourty hit the ball out of Ceceil Shorts' hands with Williamson recovering it and running it back 41 yards to midfield. The turnover kept the Jaguars away from sure points and helped seal Tennessee's second win of the season.

The very next week against the Redskins, Williamson was 'Johnny on the Spot' when Derrick Morgan sacked Kirk Cousins and knocked the ball loose. The fumble came straight into the awaiting arms of Williamson.

In his weekly press conference on Monday, head coach Ken Whisenhunt went out of his way to commend Williamson's growth as a player and impact on the team. He was asked about Taylor Lewan and Zach Mettenberger providing a boost for the team and Whisenhunt added Williamson to the list.

"Avery is doing a good job of that defensively in large part with his play," Whisenhunt said. "We've got some veteran guys on defense that are playing well that are leaders, and it's nice to see Avery fitting into that group."

The Titans selected Williamson in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft with the 151st overall selection. The linebacker finished his four-year career at Kentucky with 296 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Honorable Mention: Marqueston Huff – DB

Huff has to be listed as a defensive back because he's spent plenty of time at both cornerback and strong safety this season. Huff's season stats – 11 total tackles and one pass defended – are humble enough, but don't truly indicate how important he's been to the Titans, especially in recent weeks.

The rookie DB has seen his role drastically increase with Bernard Pollard out for the season and Coty Sensabaugh missing time due to a knee injury. Huff recorded his first sack against the Texans in Week 8 and is also an integral member of the Titans special team's units. Huff is often seen making an impact as one of Tennessee's gunners on the punt team.

Huff was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of the University of Wyoming with the 122nd overall pick. In his four years at Wyoming, Huff logged 249 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, six interceptions, and two fumble recoveries for touchdowns.

The Titans used their fifth-round pick (151 overall) on Kentucky LB Avery Williamson. (AP Photos)

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