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Weekend Mailbag: Jim Wyatt Answers Questions From Titans Fans


NASHVILLE – Welcome to the last weekend before Titans training camp.

This time next week the team will be several days into camp, edging toward the team's first preseason game.

Let's discuss it all in this weekend's Titans mailbag…

Here's the link to submit questions: CLICK HERE

Matt Borden from Martin, Tennessee
Hey Jim! Thank you for taking the time to answer questions from fans, we really appreciate the personal insight. From a previous Q/A, last year I believe, you mentioned coming to Martin and frequenting Caddy's. I can tell you it continues to go strong, particularly after Westview and UT Martin football games. How's our former Skyhawk Colton Dowell progressing? Is there an opportunity for him to crack the final 53? Would he line up as our Y opposite of Burks? His chances probably diminish if (with) Nuke, but if a 7th rounder is to make a name for himself, might as well be Dowell!

Jim: Hey Matt! I did spend some time in Martin – and Cadillac's – back in the day. After high school, I started off at UT-Martin back when they were the Pacers. My first day on campus was the day my parents dropped me off at the dorm. Lived in Ellington Hall, made a lot of great friends. I eventually transferred, but I had a great time there – played a lot of whiffle ball, made a few trips to South Fulton, went to class occasionally. 😊
I like Colton Dowell, and I know coaches like him, too. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins definitely presents him with more of a challenge to make the 53 – I have Hopkins, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Chris Moore and Kyle Philips as the top five, with others behind them competing to stick on the roster or practice squad. Injuries could also shake things up. Colton is raw, but he's a good-looking athlete and he improved during the offseason. He definitely has upside. I think he'll be around in some capacity this fall.

Len Cooke from Jacksonville, Florida
Hi Jim. While I'm thrilled that we've signed Hopkins, a man that gave us fits for years as a Texan, I can't help but have reservations. This is our fourth try at an aging receiver and the others didn't work out well. We had to do something to help our receiver depth after letting Brown get away, and with our limited salary cap, I see this as the best result we could hope for. I'm sure I'm not the only fan that's happy but scared of another flop. Do you have any insights about Hopkins versus our past older receiver efforts to help calm my nerves?

Jim: Hey Len. I've received several emails along these lines, and I've said this before because I believe it: What happened with guys like Randy Moss, Andre Johnson and Julio Jones have nothing to do with DeAndre Hopkins. They're all different guys, added to different situations with the Titans. I get that DeAndre isn't a spring chicken, now 31. But watching him last year, I think he can still play at a very high level, and I know Ran Carthon and Mike Vrabel feel the same way – the team wouldn't have signed him if they didn't feel that way.

Mack Taylor from Booneville, Mississippi
Jim do you think Will Levis will be the starter week one? I think he is the best option to lead us to the super bowl, what u think?

Jim: No. And I think starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is the best option for the Titans in 2023.

Dickey Lee from Franklin, Tennessee
Hi Jim. A week or so ago I noticed some NFL analyst (I forgot his name) rated the 2023-24 Titan's OL at 32. Saw another not so hot prediction on the defensive secondary, but I'm most interested in the OL. I would love to hear your opinion on this if you would care to speak on it.

Jim: I saw that as well on Dickey. I think a lot of these rankings are silly to be honest. But I'm also not going to sit here and tell you the Titans should be ranked as a top 10 group with so many new players, a starter who has been suspended, and a lot of things that need to be sorted out before the season. I'm more interested in what things look like during the regular season than in June or July.

Joe O'Leary from Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Jim. I love your work, I used to read your articles in the Tennessean when I was a kid. You and Joe Biddle were my favorites. People forget that it took Steve McNair nearly 4 years to become an established QB in the NFL. People also forget Peyton Manning's rookie year, or even more recently, Trevor Lawrence's rookie year. The Titans started Josh Dobbs with the playoffs on the line over Malik Willis. They drafted Will Levis, and gave up draft capitol to do so, with the 33rd pick. Malik was a rookie who had similar failures to Manning, Lawrence, and even McNair as rookies. The Titans obviously saw something to make the Dobbs/Levis decisions. What do you think it was?

Jim: I appreciate the kind words, Joe, and I appreciate you reading all these years. Joe Biddle was a good man – I enjoyed my friendship with him, and sadly went to his funeral last fall. Hard to believe Joe and David Climer, two guys I worked with at The Tennessean, are both gone. And, you're right on McNair. It took him a number of years to develop. Speaking on Willis, he clearly wasn't ready last year – that was evident when he played in games, and by the team's decision to start Dobbs at the end of the season, as you mentioned. But the reality is no one expected him to be ready. I've said this before – the plan when he was drafted was to groom him to play in 2024. I can't predict what's going to happen moving forward. A lot is at stake this season for Tannehill, Willis and Levis. I will say again it looked like Malik made impressive strides during offseason work. But the real competition is about to begin.

Justin Tibbs from Dyersburg, Tennessee
Hey Jim. I'm worried about our kicking situation and actually it's been a thorn in our side for last few seasons pretty much since Mike has been HC. I love Vrabel don't get me wrong but outside of Kern and Stonehouse our special teams been up and down but that's punts. My question is kickers how do u feel bout Nick Folk if Pats don't sign him back. I've noticed they drafted a young kicker so seems they may move on and he has been a good one. I know he is older but still can't deny his play. l know Wolff and Shudak is on roster but I like Folks experience!!!

Jim: Hey Justin. I suspect the team will let Caleb Shudak and Trey Wolff compete in camp and preseason games first, and I think Shudak is the favorite to win the job. I'll mention that in my special teams preview that is scheduled to run on Monday as well. If neither of those guys seizes the opportunity, then the team could explore other options in free agency.

Chance Cole from Franklin, Tennessee
Hi Jim. Will the Titans do training camp days for PSL holders like last year? That was a super well-coordinated event.

Jim: Hey Chance. I believe so. The team will hold a total of 10 practices where there will be fans on-site at practices, each day having different groups – general public, kids club, first responders, sponsors, families of staff members, season ticket members, etc. I've heard from a lot of folks disappointed the practices aren't fully open like they used to be, and that was always fun. Practices are more fun when they're packed with fans buzzing about what's taking place on the field. Everyone loved that. But the facility and the space around it has changed over the years. There's now a huge building where the bulk of the bleachers used to be, and the parking the team used to have nearby is no longer available because of all the new construction in MetroCenter. And while having a ticketing process isn't ideal, it's my understanding at least two-thirds of teams are doing the same thing.

Roger Piccirillo from Bridgeport, Connecticut
Hey Jim, hope your summer is going well. I am pumped about the signing of Hopkins I think he has a lot left in the tank and is still a number one receiver who will probably come in with a bit of a chip on the shoulder because there's a lot of haters out there that are doubting him and that will only motivate a guy like Hopkins. The suspension of Nicholas Petit-Frere is disappointing but it just might be a blessing in the sky, I believe it's play last year was subpar even for a rookie. I would like to see Skoronski moved to right tackle and if he plays well like I think he will they will end up with a stronger line. What say you Jim.

Jim: Same on Hopkins. Not going to put a positive spin on NPF's suspension – that was a bad development. And, personally, I think it would best for Skoronski to focus on one spot and get as prepared a possible instead of bouncing.

Clay Bryan from Clarksville, Tennessee
Jim. I am not of the opinion as some are that this is a team in the rebuilding phase. A Mike Vrabel led Titans team will likely always be in playoff contention, especially as an AFC South team over the coming years. With how tough the AFC is, I imagine our path to a playoff berth is likely through winning the division, as opposed to having a better record than teams like the Ravens, or Chargers for those 5, 6, & 7 spots. With five of the final eight games being division opponents, I am curious if you see this as a benefit and your reasoning behind that opinion?

Jim: Hey Clay. Mike Vrabel would never concede the team is in a "rebuilding phase." And signing Hopkins provides further proof the team is it in to win it. Whether the Titans are good enough remains to be seen, but I've always felt the best path to the postseason is to win the division.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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