TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: DEFENSIVE LINE
In camp: DE Jurrell Casey, NT Al Woods, DE DaQuan Jones, DE Karl Klug, DE Angelo Blackson, DL Austin Johnson, DL Antwaun Woods, DL Ropati Pitoitua, DE Mike Smith, DE Mehdi Abdesmad, DE Terrell Lathan.
Offseason developments:** The Titans signed Woods to a contract extension, and drafted Johnson in the second round of the NFL Draft. Johnson was impressive in May and June. A host of undrafted free agents signed with the team after the draft, and Woods was among those who stood out in offseason practices. He's going to be hard to block. Casey had a productive offseason on and off the field. He got married, and is now once again looking forward to mauling offensive linemen. Mike Mularkey promoted Nick Eason to defensive line coach. The Titans have a lot of depth here. It could be the team's best position from a depth standpoint.
In the spotlight: Casey. After racking up 86 tackles and tallying seven sacks last fall, Casey is ready to lasso some more quarterbacks and running backs. He's coming off a Pro Bowl appearance. There's reason to believe he could be even more successful in his sixth season with the team. The Titans should be better around Casey this fall, on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. With DC Dick LeBeau even more involved with the defense, he'll work for more ways to get Casey in a position to make plays. The combination could result in a big year for the big man from USC.
Battle to watch:** Karl Klug vs. Angelo Blackson. Klug has been a dependable pro since entering the league in 2011, and the Titans will put him to use again this fall. Klug hasn't missed a game in five seasons – he's played in all 16 games from 2011 to 2015. Blackson should contend for more playing time this fall, however, after breaking into the NFL a year ago. Blackson has improved his quickness compared to a year ago, and if he continues to improve his technique he'll have success. Veteran Ropati Pitoitua will also battle to stay in the mix during camp.
Keep an eye on: Jones. A fourth-round pick by the Titans in the 2014 draft, Jones has started 17 games over his first two NFL seasons, including all 16 last year, when he posted 67 tackles and had 15 quarterback pressures. Jones has a chance to take a giant step this fall. He's more comfortable, and should be a force to be reckoned with on the field. He was especially impressive during offseason work.
Next up: Linebackers.