TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: SAFETIES
In camp (6): Kevin Byard, Amani Hooker, Theo Jackson, A.J. Moore, Joshua Kalu, Michael Griffin II.
Offseason developments: Byard and Hooker worked with the team throughout the offseason in OTAs and the minicamp, as they continued to build their chemistry. In free agency, the Titans signed Moore, who played the past four seasons with the Texans. In the NFL Draft, the team selected Jackson, who played at the University of Tennessee. The Titans also signed Griffin, who played at South Dakota State, as an undrafted free agent. The Titans signed Joshua Kalu, who played in 28 games from 2018-2020 with the team, on Saturday while waiving Rodney Clemons. The team has not re-signed Matthias Farley, and he remains a free agent.
In the spotlight: Byard. In his sixth NFL season in 2021, Byard earned his second Pro Bowl trip after tying for fourth in the NFL and leading the Titans with five interceptions. Byard also led the team with 88 tackles, and he ranked second on the squad with 13 passes defensed. During the offseason, Byard talked about his improved diet, which has him feeling lighter and faster. Byard will look to build on that momentum in camp as he heads into 2022.
Battle to watch: Moore vs Jackson vs another safety? Byard and Hooker are the team's starting safeties, but there's room for more here. Moore was signed in large part because of his abilities on special teams, and he's expected to be a factor there for the Titans as well. The team loves his energy. Jackson had a solid offseason, and he's shown the ability to put himself around the football. He communicates well, and he's sharp. Griffin, who has good movement skills, will compete, and the addition of Kalu gives the team another option with experience. Still, it wouldn't surprise me if the Titans added another player to the mix here at some point as well.
Keep an eye on: Hooker. The fourth-year player out of Iowa may be one of the team's most underrated players. There's no question Hooker has continued to get better after arriving with the team as a fourth-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Hooker finished fourth on the team with 62 tackles in 2021, when he also had four break-ups, an interception and a forced fumble. Hooker's interception total dipped last year compared to 2020, when he recorded four picks, but the team likes his progress. Hooker, if you remember, also added an interception in the team's playoff game against the Bengals.
Next up: Special teams.