Fifth-round WR Tajae Sharpe could grab a spot in Titans' starting lineup

The Tennessee Titans open training camp July 29 at St. Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee. Here's a starting lineup projection:


Quarterback (Marcus Mariota): His 91.5 passer rating in 12 games as a rookie was the third-best rating in franchise history. He should have a better run game and defense to help the cause in his second season.

Running back (DeMarco Murray): After a down year in Philadelphia, he hopes to return to the form that won him the rushing title with the Cowboys in 2014. His downhill style should define the offense, and Derrick Henry brings more of the same behind him.

Receiver (Rishard Matthews): General manager Jon Robinson joined the team seeking reliable receivers who won’t drop the ball, and Matthews was Robinson’s choice as the team’s veteran addition at the spot.

Receiver (Tajae Sharpe): He was running with the starters at the end of the offseason and didn’t look like he was new to the NFL. Dorial Green-Beckham needs to elevate his game to stake a claim to the spot. But as of now, I’ll stick with Sharpe as one of the top two in base, and project veteran Kendall Wright to be in the slot when they are in three-wide.

Tight end (Delanie Walker): Coming off a spectacular 94-catch, 1,088-yard season that got him to his first Pro Bowl, he will continue to be the featured target for Mariota, and will benefit from a better run game and receiving corps.

Tight end (Craig Stevens): A key blocker who will be a factor in the run game and a help to either tackle when needed.

Left tackle (Taylor Lewan): He knows he was too inconsistent in his second year, and he has a healthy shoulder. In his third season, he should be poised to help settle things down on the line.

Left guard (Quinton Spain): He’s the incumbent, having started the Titans' final six games in 2015. Strong and slimmed down, he could hold on but he’s got Jeremiah Poutasi, rookie Sebastian Tretola and former center Brian Schwenke working to replace him.

Center (Ben Jones): Brought in as a free agent from Houston to help settle and lead a shaky line. He played in all 64 games in his four years with the Texans.

Right guard (Chance Warmack): The Titans declined his option for 2017. He has not lived up to his first-round draft status, and needs to play better under new line coach Russ Grimm to have a chance at a second contract with Tennessee.

Right tackle (Jack Conklin): The Titans traded up to No. 8 to get Conklin, a player they believe will be a long-term tone setter on their offensive line.


Defensive end (DaQuan Jones): A dirty-work type whom coaches like, Jones started all 16 games in his second season and the team credited him with 67 tackles and 15 quarterback pressures.

Nose tackle (Al Woods): Started nine games last year and earned a new contract from the new regime. Largely a run-down guy who comes off the field when the outside linebackers creep up to the line to rush.

Defensive end (Jurrell Casey): The Titans' best defensive player is consistently disruptive. He made his first Pro Bowl last year, when he nearly ran down uncovered Jets receiver Brandon Marshall in a December loss to the Jets.

Right outside linebacker (Brian Orakpo): A veteran leader who worked well in tandem with Derrick Morgan before Morgan got hurt. Recorded seven sacks and 37 quarterback pressures in his first season with the Titans.

Inside linebacker (Avery Williamson): A rare big hit in the middle rounds of the draft for the Titans, Williamson evolved into an every-down linebacker in his second season and is the defensive signal caller.

Inside linebacker (Wesley Woodyard): Got strong marks from Pro Football Focus as a run defender in 2015, his second season with the Titans.

Left outside linebacker (Derrick Morgan): Played hurt before his shoulder issue knocked him out for the 2015 season after 10 games. Might have around him the best rushers he has ever had to help the cause.

Cornerback (Jason McCourty): Played only four games in 2015, as he needed two surgeries to repair a sports hernia. Has 11 interceptions in a seven-year career with the Titans.

Cornerback (Perrish Cox): Could be reduced to a place in the nickel package if Brice McCain stakes a claim. Cox started out strong in his first season with the Titans, but really tailed off.

Free safety (Rashad Johnson): Takes over after a long reign for Michael Griffin. Likely an upgrade in terms of getting to passes and producing interceptions. Third-round rookie Kevin Byard could challenge him.

Strong safety (Da’Norris Searcy): Heading into his second season as the Titans' starter, which is when a lot of the team's best recent free agents have settled in and done better.

Special teams

Kicker (Ryan Succop): These Titans should put him in range to attempt more than the 16 field goals he tried last season. He hit 14.

Punter (Brett Kern): Coming off a season that was not his best, but still capable of causing fits with a knuckleball that can be hard to handle.

Long snapper (Beau Brinkley): Steady snapper who has had one of the longest tenures among the Titans.