Ayers on the line will mean Morgan inside

The Titans have been talking up the idea of strongside linebacker Akeem Ayers as a third-down, on-the-line rusher for awhile now.

Derrick Morgan

Derrick Morgan

#91 DE

Tennessee Titans

2011 STATS

  • Tot30
  • Solo22

  • Ast8

  • FF0

  • Sack2.5

  • Int0

Which automatically leads me to ask: If he’s working as a defensive end in those situations, who of your two top pass-rushing ends, Kamerion Wimbley or Derrick Morgan, is coming off the field?

Neither, Morgan told me.

“We started a little bit of that, we’ve got a couple packages, I’m moving in over the guard,” Morgan said. “It’s a good opportunity to key in on the rush and get me in a different rush situation with a guard.”

Morgan hasn’t worked inside like that since he was playing at Georgia Tech.

He said he will line up next to Ayers, with Wimbley on the other side, presumably next to Karl Klug, a very good pass-rushing tackle.

“That’s going to take some time to adjust to,” Klug said of Morgan’s potential to shift. “It’s always different rushing inside to outside. But a tired guard gets a guy who’s a little quicker like Morgan, he has to be a little lighter on his feet. Morgan can take him upfield and he can go speed to power and get him off balance.”

Prime pass-rush situations call for prime pass-rushers to be on the field.

If Ayers qualifies as one of the team’s four best, I am all for it. I have not yet seen evidence that he does rank as such, but he’s a primary pupil of new pass-rush coach Keith Millard.

I wonder, too, about the possibility of the speedy Morgan getting beat up inside. His ability to stay healthy is a concern.

“I feel comfortable enough to play in there,” he said. “You take advantage of your athleticism going inside and use your speed to your advantage on guards. As a good d-lineman, you should be able to rush anybody.”

Ayers as a rusher could become more important based on the status of Dave Ball. The pass-rushing defensive end contemplated retirement last season because of another concussion. Now he's dealing with symptoms again.