The Tennessee Titans spent most of last season saying there was no real problem with the interior of the offensive line.
But then they spent most of the off-season trying to shore up and shake up the unit at guard and center.
They allowed Jake Scott to depart as a free agent and signed veteran guard Steve Hutchinson to replace him. Hutchinson will start at left guard for the Titans.
Other than that, there isn’t much that is certain about the Titans center and right guard positions.
At center, incumbent Eugene Amano is back, even though the Titans tried hard to give his job away in the off-season. But Tennessee was unable to entice the likes of Jeff Saturday, Scott Wells or Chris Myers to come on board, leaving Amano back as the starter for now. He will, however, have to fend off Kevin Matthews, who served as his backup last season.
While Amano was nursing knee and ankle problems in the off-season, Matthews got a number of reps with the first unit, and that could serve the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, the team’s offensive line coach, well in the battle for the starting job.
Over at right guard, last year’s left guard Leroy Harris tries to stay in the starting lineup.
Harris will battle Fernando Velasco, one of the strongest players on the team, for that spot, though it is possible Velasco could sneak into the center race as well.
The Titans had high hopes for Harris when they drafted him in 2007 out of North Carolina State. And while he has had his moments of success, he also came under his fair share of scrutiny when the Titans struggled to run the football last year.
Velasco has been player the Titans have regarded as a worthwhile project ever since signing him as an undrafted free agent in 2008.
Suffice it to say, the offensive line will get more attention in this training camp than it has in many years, simply for the battles that are ensuing to determine the starting positions.
Who we think will win and why: While fans will certainly clamor for change just for the sake of change, any switch in the starters will definitely have to be earned by the players challenging for the spots.
Matthews and Velasco have both come into the league the hard way as undrafted free agents, spending time on the practice squad and now moving into backup roles. It remains to be seen whether either or both of them can wrest a starting job away from Amano and/or Harris.
Chances are, Amano and Harris will get the first nod here, unless Matthews or Velasco shows enough in camp and preseason to pull the upset.
If one or the other does, it could be Velasco, who has a bit more experience and has shown himself to be a decent player when on the field.