OMAHA – It's the middle of the offseason in the NFL, but we're still rolling here at Titans Online.
And today, we're rolling out another Titans mailbag.
This one is coming to you from Omaha, Nebraska, where I just watched Vandy take an L vs Michigan in Game 1 of the College World Series. Here's hoping for a comeback in Game 2 (It just happened, which sets up a winner-take-all game on Wednesday).
And here's this Tuesday's mailbag ...
Randall James from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: I know the Ds focus is on more sacks, I have to say in all the years as a fan that we have one of the most dominant teams overall in years, if not ever. My question is: Since the success of the draft, and all the keynote players being added favorable to the football world, will the Titans fan base likely expand into more markets from strictly the excitement of the city being shared around the world? Thanks Jim, keep the pace!
Jim: Hi Randall James. It's James Randall Wyatt III here. But you can call me Jim. I'll say this: I've seen the enthusiasm from the fan base surge in the past year, before the draft. No, it's not quite like it was during that memorable stretch from 1999-2003, but in the past few years I've seen it. And it was on full display in the season finale against the Colts at Nissan Stadium. The fan-led "Remember the Titans" walks across the Pedestrian Bridge were cool to see. And then things exploded during the NFL Draft. I definitely think that helped expand the fan base even more. I know it got fans excited. Now the team needs to keep the momentum going.
Dallas Feltner from Toledo, Ohio
Question: Hey Jim, first time writing in. Question would be, do you think D'Andre Walker or David Long has an unexpected standout year? After watching tape on both, they look like steals of the draft. And now to my statement. I've been a Titans fan since '00 (no not the Super Bowl year like everyone else.) I'm literally named after the Cowboys and my Dad was their biggest fan (yay me). He even got married on their field. So being a Titans fan has been a big part of my life. I was diagnosed with a very rare disease last year called VHL. It causes tumors to grow in numerous areas of the body. Some cancerous, some not. I currently have tumors in every major organ of my body besides heart and lungs. I have kidney cancer, suspected pancreatic cancer and I also have a brain tumor that's caused me to lose my voice, hearing loss in one ear, my balance. Outside of my incredible two-year old twin sons and girlfriend, the Titans are the only thing that's keeping up hope. I don't know if I'll be around for a Super Bowl win, but I just wanted to write in and let you, the team and the rest of the fan base (shoutout Matt Neely) know what you guys have done for me and how much this team means to me and the Titans will have a fan for life even if it's a short-lived one.
Jim: Hey Dallas. I'm hesitant to use the word standout, especially for rookies. Walker is still finding his way, and he's another guy who will need to show up when the pads come on. He's at a position where the team needs help. I actually noticed Long more in the OTAs – he's an instinctive guy, and a good player. But with depth at his position, his big role this fall – assuming he stays on track and makes the team – will be on special teams.
As for your personal story, wow. I'm sorry to hear about what you're fighting through. Sounds like you have a great attitude and a fighting spirit, and the Titans are to lucky to have you in the fan base. Keep fighting and stay strong! We'll keep you in our prayers here! Take care and God bless.
Kayne Lucas from Riverview, Florida
Question: Hey Jim! I've been a big fan of the Tennessee Titans since the day I could talk. Being raised in Tennessee you always hear the good talks about the Titans and the organization, MM8 being the big one recently. I have a few questions about him and the team... First, having what seems to be a new offensive coordinator every season is obviously a big factor on how he plays each season (injuries aside). Does this seem to be a problem within the team that's going to continue to grow or will it be addressed properly with this new hire? Secondly, will MM8's health play a factor in a potential contract after the season even if they are successful and say go far into the playoffs? And lastly, what is your honest opinion on how he will do this year and his future as a Tennessee Titan? As always TITAN UP!!
Jim: The expectation is Arthur Smith will be in that seat for a while, and I think he's a good fit. Of course his aspiration is to one day be a head coach himself, so if he gets a chance like Matt LaFleur did in Green Bay, well, that could change things. As for Mariota, I think part of what he needs to do this season is to prove he can stay healthy and be counted on to play in the big games. If something happens to him early and it causes him to miss a ton of time, well, that wouldn't be great for his future. I think Marcus is poised to have a good year, but it's impossible to say or predict. No one could have predicted the fluky nerve issue would happen in Week 1 of last year.
Josh Carter from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Jim, Thank you for being the eyes and ears of the fans this time of year! I was noticing that on the 90-man roster that my Alma Mater UTC is the most highly represented college program for the Titan's right now. I hear you mention Corey Levin regularly and I feel good about his chances to remain with the team and to play an active role this year. I also read in your last OTA's observation that Joseph Parker had a great catch. Can you give me any update on CB Kareem Orr or Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Isaiah Mack? Mack is a beast. I would love to see him help our D- Line. Go Mocs! Titan Up!!
Jim: Hey Josh. Appreciate you following. All those guys are competing, and have had their moments. It's cool to see so many guys from Chattanooga on the 90-man roster. But they're all going to need to turn it up in camp, when the pads come on. All of them are at positions where there's a ton of competition, and it's going to be a fight for spots. I'm looking forward to seeing big Mack when the pads come on.
Malcolm Kennett from Devon, England
Question: Hi Jim, with Marcus being well known for suffering from injuries to his knee and arm, what was the thought process behind selecting a back-up who also suffers from similar season ending injuries? Also, how are Marcus and Ryan looking in the OTAs?
Jim: Hey Malcolm. Appreciate the question, and I get where you're coming from with Tannehill because he missed an entire season (2017) because of injuries and has been banged up some during his career. But he has proven he can play an entire season as well – he started all 16 games in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Hey, guys get hurt in the league. The key for the Titans, whether it's Mariota or Tannehill, is finding ways to keep them healthy. I think both QBs had a solid offseason. There's no doubt Tannehill can sling it after seeing him in practices.
Darin Finkelstein from Chatham, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. Hope all is well. Sounds like the team fixed the audio and we can now hear questions during press conferences. Please pass on a thank you to who was responsible. ... Any observations on Alex Barnes? There was hype around his UFA signing but have not heard much. Thanks, Darin
Jim: Hey Darin. He's in the mix, but can't lie – it's hard for him to get noticed -- and get reps – with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. And while David Fluellen has been working at fullback, back Jeremy McNichols has been pretty active, too. Barnes will need to show up when he gets chances in camp.
Have a great week everyone!