TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: CORNERBACKS
In camp (11): Kristian Fulton, Caleb Farley, Chris Jackson, Elijah Molden, Greg Mabin, Roger McCreary, Tre Avery, Shyheim Carter, Kenneth George Jr., Chris Williamson, Tre Swilling.
Offseason developments: The Titans parted ways with Janoris "Jackrabbit" Jenkins earlier this offseason, and in the second round of the NFL Draft the team selected McCreary, the former Auburn cornerback. The Titans re-signed Mabin on a one-year deal, but the team hasn't re-signed Briean Boddy-Calhoun, and he remains a free agent. Following this year's draft, the Titans signed Avery (Rutgers) and Swilling (Georgia Tech) as undrafted free agents after signing Carter, who played at Alabama, and Williamson, who played at Minnesota, to futures contracts back in January. George, who played in college at the University of Tennessee, took part in the team's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, and he ended up being signed. Farley and Molden were mostly limited in offseason work as they recovered from injuries, while McCreary hit the ground running. Veteran cornerback Buster Skrine took part in OTAs and the minicamp, but he informed the team at the start of camp he plans to retire.
In the spotlight: Fulton. The Titans have a lot of young talent here, but to this point Fulton is the youngster who has produced the most on an NFL field. A second-round pick of the Titans out of LSU in the 2020 NFL Draft, Fulton started 13 games in 2021 after an injury-shortened rookie season. Fulton finished the year with 40 tackles, two interceptions and 14 passes defensed while lining up across from some of the NFL's top receivers. At the end of last season, Fulton said his mission moving forward is to make more game-changing plays. He'll look to build momentum when training camp gets under way this week.
Battle to watch: Chase for roles. There's plenty up for grabs here as a hungry bunch prepares for battle. McCreary is a sticky, aggressive corner who has a chance to earn a spot, or at least significant playing time, right out of the gate. I liked the looks of him in May and June. While Molden didn't do much in the offseason, he did enough as a rookie in 2021 to prove to those around him he can be trusted. Jackson has played in the defense, and he can help on special teams. He had a solid offseason. So, how many will stick? I'm thinking Fulton, Farley, Molden, McCreary, and Jackson, and probably one more. But the biggest question is centered on which guys will earn the starting spots, and the most playing time. Meanwhile, others will compete for a potential practice squad spot or two.
Keep an eye on: Farley. After being selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Farley worked hard to put himself in a position to help last fall. But he dealt with early setbacks before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the team's October 18 contest against the Bills. Now, he's on the comeback trail once again with hopes of making a big jump this fall. The road back for Farley continues in camp. Outfitted in a knee brace and a yellow jersey during many of the drills during the offseason, Farley should have less restrictions moving forward. And it was great news when he wasn't on the PUP list to start. Physically he's bigger, and mentally he's stronger. But it's time for Farley to begin establishing himself on the field and finding a spot in the defense. Camp – and a chance to put the pads on – will provide an opportunity.
Next up: Safeties.