The Tennessee Titans open training camp on July 31 at Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee. Here’s a closer look at the Titans' camp, which wraps up on Aug. 21:
Top storyline: The Titans spent the No. 2 pick of the NFL draft on Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. They and the city are looking to the quarterback as the face of the franchise and the guy who they hope will key a turnaround for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2008. Everyone will be watching every move by Mariota in his first training camp. How does he catch on to things, lead the offense and progress in the system? How do the Titans bend things to his strengths to help make it easier for him at the start? In OTAs and minicamp, he was more accurate and showed better anticipation than I expected. Now everything will be faster and everyone will be in pads.
Position battles to watch: Byron Bell vs. Jeremiah Poutasi for right tackle. The Titans cut Michael Oher after one bad year. They signed the veteran Bell, who struggled on the left in Carolina, and drafted Poutasi out of Utah in the third round. A third-rounder should have potential as a starter, but if Bell has a good camp the Titans may choose to wait on the raw youngster considering the important role he’d play in protecting Mariota.
Perrish Cox vs. Blidi Wreh-Wilson for the second starting cornerback job. Cox, a free-agent addition from San Francisco, was great through the offseason, while Wreh-Wilson, who struggled in his first year as a starter in 2014, sat out and rehabbed a repaired shoulder. This one was likely over before it started.
Wide receivers. The Titans have six guys who will compete for roles. Kendall Wright should be the clear top option. But how do Harry Douglas, Justin Hunter, Dorial Green-Beckham, Hakeem Nicks and Tre McBride shake out for roles? Somebody who has looked good through the offseason will be done if the Titans keep only five.
Veterans to watch: Left guard Andy Levitre is heading into his third season as a member of the Titans, and he has not come close to living up to the six-year, $47 million contract he got as a free agent. The Titans don’t have a great alternative, but youngster Jamon Meredith could challenge Levitre after a move inside.
Inside linebacker Zach Brown returns from a pectoral injury suffered on the first series of 2014 that cost him the season. The Titans are counting on him to provide a boost. He’s very fast and should help with tight end coverage. But he’ll need to show he can help cure what was a terrible run defense without him.
Rookies to watch: Mariota is No. 1, of course, and we covered him above.
Second-rounder Green-Beckham is a giant target who can pose all sorts of matchup issues provided he can pick things up quickly and stay out of trouble. Off-the-field issues killed his college career and got him kicked out of Missouri. He finished at Oklahoma, where he was only a practice player.
Fifth-round running back David Cobb should be a good inside runner and could wind up with more work than last year’s second-rounder, Bishop Sankey. The run game needs a jolt, and if Cobb can provide one he will get plenty of touches.
Bubble watch: I think it’d be hard for Levitre to get cut based on the investment the Titans made in him. But if he’s poor in the preseason it’s not an impossibility. The Titans don’t have sufficient depth at cornerback, but I do sense they aren’t wild about incumbent nickelback Coty Sensabaugh as they head into camp. But even if he’s not good in the preseason, it’s not as if there are many candidates who can force him off the roster.
Continuity impact: The Titans and Ken Whisenhunt have talked about how continuity with the systems and coaching staff will benefit the team. The big change on offense is that they will accommodate Mariota’s skill set with some new stuff. The one coaching addition was a big one: Assistant head coach/defense Dick LeBeau will now be coordinating the 3-4 scheme in its second year. Indications are players on offense and defense are more comfortable with what is being asked of them, from Kendall Wright and more precise route running to Derrick Morgan, who’s now more of an outside 'backer.
For daily updates at camp, check out the Tennessee Titans clubhouse page.