2014 NFL Preview: Everything you need to know about the Tennessee Titans

Mike Dickson
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

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Tennessee Titans

Schedule | Roster

2013 Record 2013 Finish
7-9 2nd in AFC South, 11th in AFC

The 2013 season started off strong for the Titans, with wins in three of their first four games, and Jake Locker showing flashes of being the quarterback Tennessee envisioned when he was selected eighth overall in 2011.

However, a hip injury in Week 4, followed by a foot injury in Week 10 ended Locker's year early, and the Titans would finish up just 4-8 after their promising start. That poor finish cost head coach Mike Munchak his job, but that may end up a positive for the Titans in the long run.

Preseason Power Ranking - #30

Until Locker stays healthy and productive for 16 games, no one will believe the Titans are a playoff contender. Even if he does, is there enough talent on the team around him? More ...

Key Additions/Departures

Michael Oher, OT, Titans

Key Additions: OT Michael Oher, WR/KR Dexter McCluster, LB Shaun Phillips, LB Wesley Woodyard

Key Departures: RB Chris Johnson, WR Kenny Britt, OT David Stewart, CB Alterraun Verner

Michael Oher should play right tackle with Michael Roos holding down the left side. Chris Johnson's absence could be big, as the Titans may be forced to rely on Shonn Greene to carry most of the load at running back, and he's had difficulty staying healthy throughout his career. Expect rookie Bishop Sankey to get a lot of carries and eventually - if not immediately - take the starting job away from Greene.

Alterraun Verner will likely be the hardest to replace, as he had a breakout season for Tennessee in 2013. The Titans will have to hope someone else can step up and lock down half the field the way Verner did last season.

2014 Draft Class

RD PK Player
1 11 OT Taylor Lewan
2 54 RB Bishop Sankey
4 112 DT DaQuan Jones
4 122 FS Marqueston Huff
5 151 LB Avery Williamson
6 178 QB Zach Mettenberger

There's no denying that Taylor Lewan is a talented offensive lineman, but his selection by the Titans was a bit of a head-scratcher at the time because Tennessee already had Roos at left tackle, and they signed Oher away from Baltimore to take over at right tackle.

The Titans have smartly prepared Lewan to be able to play guard as well, giving him the potential to be a super-sub along the offensive line in 2014. He also has the skills to step in as a starter should either Oher or Roos struggle or be forced to miss time during the season.

Tennessee may have gotten a bit of a steal by selecting Zach Mettenberger in the sixth round. The quarterback out of LSU was a potential first-round pick before tearing his ACL, and was still thought of as a possible mid-round target before falling to the sixth. He's unlikely to challenge for playing time this season, but could be the QB of the future for the Titans.

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Ken Whisenhunt
Offensive Coordinator: Jason Michael
Defensive Coordinator: Ray Horton

Ken Whisenhunt is entering his first year as Titans head coach after serving as the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers last season. Prior to his stint with the Bolts, Whisenhunt was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, and led them to Super Bowl XLIII, eventually losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chargers' offense went from 31st in 2012 to fifth last season with Whisenhunt seemingly getting the very most out of quarterback Philip Rivers. His addition, along with the hiring of Ray Horton as defensive coordinator, should lead to improved play for Tennessee on both sides of the ball.

2014 Schedule

1 Sun, Sep 7 at Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS
2 Sun, Sep 14 vs Cowboys 1:00 PM FOX
3 Sun, Sep 21 at Bengals 1:00 PM CBS
4 Sun, Sep 28 at Colts 1:00 PM CBS
5 Sun, Oct 5 vs Browns 1:00 PM CBS
6 Sun, Oct 12 vs Jaguars 1:00 PM CBS
7 Sun, Oct 19 at Redskins 1:00 PM CBS
8 Sun, Oct 26 vs Texans 1:00 PM CBS
10 Sun, Nov 9 at Ravens 1:00 PM CBS
11 Mon, Nov 17 vs Steelers 8:30 PM ESPN
12 Sun, Nov 23 at Eagles 1:00 PM CBS
13 Sun, Nov 30 at Texans 1:00 PM CBS
14 Sun, Dec 7 vs Giants 1:00 PM FOX
15 Sun, Dec 14 vs Jets 4:05 PM CBS
16 Thu, Dec 18 at Jaguars 8:25 PM NFLN
17 Sun, Dec 28 vs Colts 1:00 PM CBS

The Titans have to hope they can gel quickly, as their season gets off to a very difficult start. Three of Tennessee's first four games are on the road against playoff teams from a season ago, and their lone home game versus the Dallas Cowboys will be no easy win.

From that point on though, the schedule calms down as the Titans won't face another 2013 postseason team until the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. Overall, Tennessee will play just five games against playoff teams from last year and have the second easiest strength of schedule in the league, all of which could allow the Titans to make some noise in the weak AFC South.

Bold Predictions

Justin Hunter catches 10 touchdowns. Four of Hunter’s 18 catches in 2013 were touchdowns, and he’ll be more of a focal point of the Titan offense this season. Other than Kendall Wright and an aging Nate Washington, Tennessee doesn’t have a bevy of wideout options to work with. Hunter’s limited playing time last year had to do with his questionable grasp of the offense, but expect the Titans to turn him loose now. - Michael Amato

Bishop Sankey wins Offensive Rookie of the Year. With Whisenhunt as head coach, one thing is sure for the Titans: their offense will improve. Chris Johnson is gone, which opens up room in the backfield and rookie Sankey shouldn’t have much of a problem wrestling carries away from Greene. Sankey put up over 3,300 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns over the last two seasons at Washington, and he has the kind of talent to be the focal point of Tennessee’s offense this season. - Mike Dickson