Three thoughts as training camps open around the NFL:
One thing I'm certain of: Though their personnel is not dramatically different, the Titans should look a lot different than last year. A new staff came out of the lockout in hurry-up mode, and didn’t overhaul things to the degree it wanted to because it didn’t want to overload players.
Now, with a full offseason, position coaches have been able to pick apart film with guys and instill additional technique and habits. While Mike Munchak’s overriding philosophy -- know what to do and do it -- is significant, all those other specifics are important, too. We’ll see more of the mindset of coordinators Chris Palmer and Jerry Gray as they install throughout camp. That should mean a more wide-open offense from Palmer and a defense from Gray with more variations in scheme, alignments and pressure.
One thing that might happen: If he does what the Titans expect him to do, first-round pick Kendall Wright could work his way into the starting lineup for opening day against New England. It would be best if he didn’t rank higher than third in the receiving corps. But Kenny Britt is recovering from reconstructive surgery on his right knee after three games last season and scopes on each knee during the offseason. He could also be suspended as a result of a recent DUI charge, as commissioner Roger Goodell put him on notice following the lockout when his interactions with police continued to mount.
Wright gives the Titans an explosive, outside option who can also threaten from the slot. It would be ideal if he was third and drew the corresponding coverage. But if he ranks higher among the receivers earlier in the season, he can still help Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker as well as take some attention away from guy like Chris Johnson and Jared Cook.
One thing we won't see: A rout in the quarterback competition. I’ll be hugely surprised if both Hasselbeck and Locker don’t put together good bodies of work in camp and the preseason. Don’t buy that there isn’t a real competition here. While the veteran incumbent certainly has at least a slight advantage at the start based on experience, Munchak wouldn’t be advertising a QB competition strictly for show.
Ultimately, they’ve said they’ll make the call on gut feeling. I know a lot of people don’t want to believe that will be the case. I do. Hasselbeck will likely be more consistent while Locker’s peaks may be higher. No matter the winner, odds are they’ll need them both at some point this season. If you don’t have an absolute star at the spot, having a capable veteran and an up-and-comer is the next best thing.