The improvement or lack thereof by quarterback Jake Locker will be the single most key element in the Tennessee Titans‘ ability to rebound in the 2013 NFL season. However, a close second will be whether a defense that’s been miserable in recent years suddenly looks at least halfway decent.
With poor play coming from their linebacker spot and a huge overhaul in the secondary, perhaps the best chance for this defense to scare will be the edge rush. Titans defensive ends Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan have both flashed their first-round talent during their careers, but only Morgan delivered it consistently last season. The play of Wimbley will be critical to monitor in Titans training camp and the preseason.
“(Wimbley) is like a ninja, man,” said Titans defensive assistant coach Keith Millard, via USA TODAY Sports. “He takes great care of himself. If you look at him, he is a sculpted, strong-looking, very athletic guy.”
The Titans are theorizing that over-use may have hurt Wimbley’s production down the stretch last season. Wimbley recorded all five of his positively graded games (via Pro Football Focus) during the first nine weeks, before recording seven straight negatively graded games to close out the year.
Tennessee will need Wimbley’s early-season form to help mitigate major question marks at the safety position along with all cornerback spots behind Jason McCourty.
“He played more than he needed to,” Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray said, via USA TODAY Sports, which noted that Wimbley played 909 of 1,130 snaps in 2012. “This year we have to get him in a position where he can rush the passer. I can’t tell you what that is going to be, but hopefully he is not playing 900 snaps like he did last year.”