RT Jack Conklin might miss Craig Stevens more than any other Titan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Contemplating the retirement of tight end Craig Stevens, I built to a conclusion: Rookie right tackle Jack Conklin stands to suffer the most with Stevens gone.

That may wind up being the case. Conklin will be attacked by defenses looking to overwhelm the rookie when the Tennessee Titans look to pass, and the quickest medicine for that could be putting a quality blocking tight end next to him to assist.

But the preseason film doesn’t reveal that’s been the case so far, even as coach Mike Mularkey talked of Conklin being more comfortable as a run-blocker than a pass-protector at this stage.

I watched all 15 of Marcus Mariota’s preseason pass attempts, of which he’s completed 14 for 149 yards. And Conklin was pretty much on his own for all of them. He gave up a pressure to Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson on one of them, but otherwise held his own without help, even if he didn't always appear graceful doing so.

Stevens was beside Conklin on what turned out to be a Mariota scramble in the first quarter of the Week 2 preseason game against Carolina. The two stood up Johnson -- with Stevens doing more of the work, actually -- as Mariota took off to the other side for a 6-yard gain.


If we wind up saying “Conklin sure could have used a top-flight blocking tight end next to him on that play” once the games start counting, we won’t be able to look back at the two preseason games with Stevens in uniform for comparison.