Al Woods getting notice in middle of Titans defense

"It's been a little up and down but it showed up in last week's game and he had a good practice today," Ken Whisenhunt said of Al Woods, right. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans first-team defense did little of note in the preseason opener, and will be under more scrutiny Sunday night at home against the Rams.

One player who got a pretty good review was nose tackle Al Woods, who started with Sammie Hill out.

"I think one of the things that we saw in the spring was Al was improving," coach Ken Whisnenhunt said. "It was one of those ones where we'd like to see him in pads. It's been a little up and down but it showed up in last week's game and he had a good practice today.

"It's nice to see Al showing up like that. It gives us an even deeper group at that line that you feel good about."

Woods signed with the Titans as a free agent from Pittsburgh in 2014 and wasn't a big factor during the 2-14 season. He's reunited with Dick LeBeau now, who made the same move from the Steelers to the Titans.

But Hill is back from a PUP stint and likely to return to action Sunday. While Woods can play end, he's been working a great deal at nose in Hill's absence.

It can be hard to find snaps in the middle of the 3-4 base defense as the team raves about Hill. When they move to five defensive backs, they often bring in a different player to pair with Jurrell Casey at tackle while the outside linebackers move up to the edges of the line.

"Woods stood out to me, I thought he flashed in the run game," said NFL Films executive producer Greg Cosell on my Nashville radio show. "I thought he showed a good combination of power and movement, he showed some strong hands. He showed up, he stood out watching the tape."

Woods played 17 snaps on defense and three more on special teams.

Defensive line is the Titans deepest position, and the rotation possibilities are significant.

"I believe we're developing really good depth where more and more guys have shown us that they can play, that they will be able to play," defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.