Training camp is in full swing for the NFL teams, and the Titans are riding high in preseason predictions.
They have made a number of off-season roster changes, mainly for the better.
They have high hopes coming off of a nine-win season. That may not sound all that hot since they failed to make the playoffs, but if quarterback Marcus Mariota had not gone out with a broken fibula late in the season they could have finished with a flourish.
While they have been touted by NFL writers as a dark horse to win the AFC South and even as high as the AFC title which would put them in the, dare I say it, Super Bowl.
Looking at the roster, I see only one thing that if they play to their potential could prevent them from having one of the best seasons since they went to the Super Bowl in what seems like forever.
That one blockage is injuries.
They have to stay healthy, especially at key positions. The old saying is you can’t make the club from the tub.
The training camp has not looked good in that department.
The first week of training camp saw the Titans first round draft pick, wide receiver Corey Davis, leaving the field with a hamstring injury.
Davis was the fifth pick in the NFL draft and he is slotted for a starting role in a position that needs a playmaker, a difference maker that could propel the Titans deep in the playoffs.
Hamstring injuries are a delicate subject, especially for offensive skill position players such as the rookie from Western Michigan.
It’s not the first time Davis has battled a hamstring injury. He was out for some time in college with a hammy, which is bad and good. It is bad because he is a player who doesn’t want to sit out a play. It is good because he knows that the rehab process often includes being extra careful to make sure that is 100 percent healed.
Football players with hamstring injuries get up one day and the injured hamstring feels like you can run like you have all your life. Then you go out and it can turn from a pulled hamstring to a torn hamstring muscle. Now you are talking possible surgery and a lengthy recovery time.
It doesn’t take a hard tackle to make you go from running to limping. Non-contact drills can put a player on the shelf.
Davis is not the only Titans player to take time off the first week of training camp.
Veteran running back DeMarco Murray is still out with a hamstring. Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe is nursing a foot injury and linebacker Victor Ochi tore an ACL in Friday night’s practice. It will, require knee surgery. Ochi will be out for the season.
Mariota is the one player that the Titans simply cannot afford to lose for any length of time.
He is the straw that stirs the drink. He has had ample time to heal and he says he is ready to go through practices and preseason scrimmages and games.
Mariota doesn’t want to be nursed, but he is smart enough to follow instructions from those who make a living healing pro athletes.
If the Titans can avoid serious injuries for 16 games, they can bring the kind of excitement to the Music City that the Predators did.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.