Last season, Vince Youngís magical rise to prominence was the key to the Tennessee Titansí unforeseen 8-8 record. The Titans started the season with five straight losses and seven losses in their first nine games, but that was before Young exploded onto the scene.
Young, who was drafted with the third overall pick of the 2006 draft, led a captivating run that saw the Titans win six of their last seven games to narrowly miss the playoffs. While his stats werenít jaw dropping, his charisma and natural instincts for the game were. He played with the confidence of a Super Bowl champion and the poise of a 12-year veteran.
The 2006 season was a fine way for Young to introduce himself to the NFL world. However, for the Titans to duplicate their 8-8 record in 2007, Young is going to have to be worlds better.
The Titans, who didnít have much on the field talent last season outside of Young, lost whatever talent they did have in this offseason. Travis Henry, who rushed for 1211 yards and seven touchdowns, signed with the Denver Broncos. Drew Bennett, who had 18 touchdown receptions in the last three seasons with the Titans, signed with the St. Louis Rams.
Defensively, the Titans lost their biggest playmaker. Pacman Jones, the author of many of the Titans big plays last year not involving Young, was suspended for the entire 2007 season by new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for numerous run-ins with the law.
The offseason couldnít have been much more depressing for a fan of the Titans. A young team seemingly on the rise is now forced to start over again. And to add to the angst, the Titans havenít made many moves to replace those players who have departed.
The burden of filling the void left by Henry at running back falls on two youngsters. LenDale White, who was drafted by the Titans in the second round last season, will have a shot at becoming the starter this season after a quiet rookie season. Also in the mix is Chris Henry, a second round pick this season out of Arizona. Although he did little to distinguish himself at Arizona, Henry wowed scouts at the draft combine to fly up the charts.
At wide receiver, the situation is even scarier. After Bennett left for the Rams, many expected the Titans to fill the void in free agency. But unfortunately for Young and the Titans, that didnít happen. Unless the Titans find a way to add to the arsenal, Young wonít have many options to throw to in the passing game. To date, Tennesseeís biggest addition at wideout is Paul Williams, a third round pick out of Fresno State.
As good as Young was last season, heís going to have to be much better this season if the Titans are expected to compete for a spot in the playoffs. The good news for Titans fans is that with Young, he has shown that you can usually expect the unexpected.
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