NASHVILLE, Tenn. –
When the Titans claimed offensive lineman Josh Kline off waivers the week before the regular season opener, he was viewed by many as an insurance policy.
When starting right guard Chance Warmack suffered an injury in Week 2, the Titans immediately cashed in. Kline was thrown into the mix a week later, and he's started ever since.
"He's fit right in,'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said of Kline. "He's smart, he's tough, and he understands what we're trying to do. You know, he doesn't say a whole lot, he's a quiet guy, but he's playing our style."
Kline is part of an offensive line that's ranked No.1 in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. The Titans are currently ranked second in the NFL in rushing offense through five games, averaging 148.6 yards per game on the ground. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has been sacked just five times, and only twice since Kline has been in the starting lineup.
Mularkey indicated when Warmack tore a tendon in his finger – and had surgery – that he probably wouldn't return again this season. The team placed Warmack on Injured Reserve last month.
The team certainly seems very satisfied with Kline (6-3, 300), who played in 14 games for the New England Patriots last season, including 13 starts – seven at right guard and six at left guard. Kline also started at left guard for both of the team's playoff contests.
"He's played extremely well,'' Mularkey said. "He has had a tough duty, especially (vs Miami). There were some plays — we had some double teams in that game -- that you can't draw them up and script them any better than they doubled these guys out of there. He had a lot of pressure on him to perform, and he performed really well against that front.
"He started some big games in New England. You just have to say they wouldn't have put him in there if they hadn't had the trust that you need to have in a guy in big games. He's really done everything we've hoped he would do. I mean, it was a very good pick up."
Kline, originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2013, played in 33 games over the previous three seasons in New England, with 18 starts.
He said on Monday he likes the environment in Tennessee, where he's developing chemistry with the guys who line up next to him -- center Ben Jones and right tackle Jack Conklin -- in addition to left guard Quinton Spain and left tackle Taylor Lewan.
"(Before I only knew them) on paper, not personally,'' Kline said of his fellow offensive linemen. "But I've come to know them and they are great guys. We have a great room and a great coach, and we just have to keep working on things as an offensive line and keep getting better and just go from there."
This week, the Titans face the Browns, who sacked Mariota seven times in a game last season. The Titans lost that game, 28-14.
While Kline brought with him valuable experience when he joined the team (he played in four playoff games with the Patriots), he downplayed how much influence he might have on his new teammates.
He made it very clear he's just ready to do his part.
"I think they already had the pieces here, and we just needed to execute and do the little things right," Kline said. "Last Sunday shows what we could do.
"I am just trying to do everything I can to help out the team. I still have a lot of work to do, a lot of stuff I need to work on personally to try and get better every day. I think we've played well as a team, and now we are just worrying about Cleveland this week at home."
The Tennessee Titans take on the Miami Dolphins in Week 5 action at Hard Rock Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)