Titans Position Analysis: Linebackers

Titans Position Analysis: Linebackers

Last year the Titans lacked depth at almost every position on the roster. LB was no exception. That was obvious when David Thornton went down with an injury and starting middle linebacker Peter Sirmon was forced to play outside. The Titans addressed this issue with the additions of Ryan Fowler and Gilbert Gardner. Let's take an look at the guys competing for spots on this year's roster.

Keith Bulluck- Bulluck is the heart and soul of the Titans defense. He is also one of the most underrated players in the NFL at any position. If Bulluck played in a big market he would have been to 3 or 4 Pro Bowls by now. I look for Bulluck to have his best year yet with the overall strength of this linebacking core.

David Thornton- Thornton was off to a great start last year but was slowed by a shoulder injury. Even though there were at least 3 games last year where he only played on passing downs he was still third on the team with 107 tackles. He came over from Indy in 2006 and is a typical Tony Dungy speed linebacker. He runs sideline to sideline and can cover pretty much any tight end in the league.

Ryan Fowler- Fowler was signed in the offseason from the Dallas Cowboys. While with the Cowboys he was mostly a special teams player. The Titans obviously saw something they liked in him because they gave him an $11 million contract. Fowler is a middle linebacker who has a good knowledge of the game. He is bigger than Peter Sirmon so he should plug the middle a little better. He is by no means a lock to win the starting middle linebacker position though.

Stephen Tulloch- Tulloch is the other guy competing for the middle linebacker spot. He played pretty well when he got the chance last year including a huge INT in the end zone against the Eagles. Tulloch has the more upside of the two because of his athleticism. The only knock on him is that he sometimes doesn't know his assignments and is out of position. It the middle linebacker is out of position on a running play it can make for some big plays. I think Tulloch will be a really good middle linebacker when he gets comfortable with the system.

Gilbert Gardner- Gardner was signed from the Colts this offseason. He is similar to Thornton in that he is a fast linebacker that is good in coverage. He provides veteran depth to the position. Experienced backups are something the Titans have desperately needed the past couple of years.

LeVarr Woods- Woods is a veteran who brings a lot of experience to the backup role. Woods will backup the outside positions and be a key contributor on special teams.

Terna Nande- Nande was drafted by the Titans in 2006. He had trouble picking up the system and was cut before the season started. The Titans later signed him to the practice squad. If he makes the roster he will mainly only contribute on special teams.

Spencer Toone- Toone has a very similar story to Nande. He was drafted in 2006, cut before the season started, and later added to the practice squad. If he can make the roster it will primarily be because of his special teams abilities.

Colin Allred- Allred was an undrafted free agent after last year's draft. He is taking his second shot at making the roster and appears to be a long shot.

Ken Amato is also listed as a linebacker on the depth chart. He likely won't see any action at linebacker but will make the roster as the team's long snapper.

As you can see, the Titans are very strong and deep at linebacker. We know Bulluck and Thornton will start on the outside. The middle is still up for grabs. It is hard to imagine the Titans giving Fowler all of that money to come in and be a backup. He will more than likely be the starter unless Tulloch really out plays him in camp.

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