TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: INSIDE LINEBACKERS
In camp (7): Zach Cunningham, David Long Jr., Monty Rice, Dylan Cole, Joe Jones, Chance Campbell, Jack Gibbens.
Offseason developments: The Titans reworked Cunningham's contract during the offseason, and he remains under contract through the 2024 season. The team re-signed Cole, who played primarily on special teams a year ago, to a one-year deal. The Titans drafted Campbell in the sixth round of the NFL Draft out of Ole Miss, and then signed Gibbens as an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota. The Titans made a change on the coaching staff here, as former Texans assistant Bobby King replaced Jim Haslett. In Tennessee, King has been reunited with Cunningham. There were some departures here, as Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans signed with the Raiders and Falcons, respectively, after not being re-signed. B.J. Bello and Nick Dzubnar have not re-signed with the team, and they remain free agents.
In the spotlight: Zach Cunningham. After joining the Titans during the second half of last season, Cunningham brought the speed and play-making ability to the defense that he displayed during his college career at Vanderbilt, and at his first NFL home in Houston. Now, he'll look to be even better with a greater comfort level in the system, and with those around him. Cunningham's relationship with King should help him as well. Cunningham is a sideline-to-sideline player, and he'll look to sharpen his skills during his first training camp in Tennessee.
Battle to watch: The back-ups. Rice, selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Georgia, was sidelined during most of the offseason work with an Achilles. He should be back and ready to compete leading up to the season. The Titans liked Cole's work during the offseason, and he currently ranks ahead of Jones. The battle here, assuming the team ends up keeping five (Cunningham, Long, Rice, Cole) is likely between Campbell and Gibbens, and whether one of them can carve out a special teams role. Gibbens is a smart guy who figures to stick around on the practice squad if he doesn't earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
Keep an eye on: David Long Jr.. A sixth-round pick out of West Virginia in the 2019 NFL Draft, Long is one of the team's most motivated players, or at least it seems like it. Long has gotten better each year in the NFL, and he's coming off a season when he finished third in tackles (75) while also making an impact rushing the QB (six pressures) in pass defense (two interceptions). Long has vowed to be even more of a vocal leader this fall, and he'll get a chance to establish himself further in the defense alongside Cunningham.
Next up: Edge rushers.