NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans made progress this offseason, through 10 OTAs and a three-day minicamp.
But some questions remain.
Here's a look at six questions to ponder before players return for training camp at the end of next month:
How will the Titans handle Marcus Mariota in the preseason?**
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has made great strides this offseason. His workload has increased every step of the way, and he's looked better each week. Coach Mike Mularkey said Mariota should be off the injury report and ready to go when training camp begins. How will Mariota look as he works in faster-paced team periods in camp, and in intense, padded practices? Will he be turned loose in preseason games out of the gate? Stay tuned.
What will the receiver position look like?
Rishard Matthews returns as a proven, reliable target, and there's plenty of potential around him. The group now includes veteran Eric Decker, who signed with the team earlier this week. There's also Corey Davis, who flashed some of that big potential as he was turned loose in recent weeks. Taywan Taylor, the team's third-round pick, was impressive throughout the offseason. So far, neither player has provided reasons to doubt them. Tajae Sharpe's offseason was cut short because of foot surgery, and he's aiming to be back for camp. Meanwhile, veterans Harry Douglas, Eric Weems and Tre McBride will be fighting for spots. Who will stick from the group?
Who will win spots in the secondary? And where?**
The Titans signed free agents Logan Ryan and Johnathan Cyprien this offseason, and I'm expecting them to be on the field at cornerback and safety, respectively. Second-year safety Kevin Byard will also play. But what about safety Da'Norris Searcy? Does rookie Adoree' Jackson claim a starting spot from Day 1? How about second-year corner LeShaun Sims, and returning veteran Brice McCain? New addition Demontre Hurst is contending as well. A ton of questions here, from who will start, to who will make the 53-man roster, to where guys will play.
How will linebacker Kevin Dodd look?
The Titans have been patient with Dodd, the team's second-round draft pick from 2016 who has undergone two surgeries for a foot injury. Dodd finished last season on Injured Reserve, and he was slowed all offseason as he recovered. Mularkey gave his most positive review to date when discussing Dodd at the end of the minicamp. He said he expects him to be ready for camp, and ready to contribute. If that ends up being the case, Dodd will have plenty of eyes on him in August.
Who will be used in the return game?**
Well, the Titans have plenty of options here. Jackson is a dynamic athlete who handled return duties in college at USC, but the Titans also drafted Khalfani Muhammad, a speedster who has handled kickoffs. And let's not forget about the veteran Weems, the former Atlanta Falcon who was signed in March to help on special teams. The Titans have several others with experience, and they'll get chances as well. Preseason games will decide plenty leading up to the season.
How will the numbers game play out at several positions?
Will the Titans keep four tight ends? Which players will provide depth on the offensive line? Will the addition of Decker prompt the Titans to keep an extra receiver? Can the Titans afford to keep three quarterbacks on the roster? These questions surface every year heading into camp, and competition will help decide how things play out again this year. The Titans will have players fighting for roster spots all over the team, so training camp is going to be fun to watch to see who sticks across the board.
Titans players the field for Day 2 of a three-day minicamp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)