This week in advance of the Green Bay Packers' preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans, we sat down with Jimmy Morris of Music City Miracles, SB Nation's Titans blog, to get their perspective on the preseason and some of the changes that have gone on in Nashville.
APC: Which under the radar players have been pleasant surprises in camp so far?
Derrick Morgan isn't necessarily and under the radar guy, he was a first pick, but most people were worried about his transition to outside linebacker in the 3-4. He has been really good in that role, and they are expecting a good year out of him.
On offense, Taylor Thompson has really been solid. They knew he was a project when they drafted him in the 5th round 2 years ago. This camp has been the first where it looks like the light has come on for him.
APC: What are the Titans' plans for the running game this season now that Chris Johnson has moved on, and which backs should we expect to see get the bulk of the carries on Saturday?
They will use a committee approach with Shonn Greene and rookie second-round pick Bishop Sankey. Dexter McCluster will get a few carries here and there, but they will mainly use him as a change of pace and to catch the ball out of the backfield.
You will see quite a bit of Sankey because they need to see what he can do against NFL competition. After that, look for undrafted free agent Antonio Andrews to get a shot. He is a local kid that a lot of people are hoping can make some noise.
APC: With the Titans switching to a 3-4 defense this year, what major personnel moves have they made that were specifically to prepare for that adjustment?
I mentioned Morgan above, but they also have Kamerion Wimbley who has moved from defensive end to outside linebacker. This schemem is a better fit for him.
They signed Shaun Phillips to help with the outside pass rush, and Wesley Woodyard to give them a guy in the middle who has spent time in a 3-4.
APC: What are reasonable expectations for Jake Locker in his fourth NFL season? Do you think he will be the Titans' QB in 2015 and beyond?
I still think Locker can be a solid quarterback IF he can stay healthy. That is the big question. He was really looking good last year before he went down with the hip injury. He isn't going to be Aaron Rodgers, but he is a guy who can manage a team well enough to be successful.
As for 2015 and beyond, that all depends on this year. He isn't necessarily Ken Whisenhunt's guy, he wasn't here when Locker was drafted, but Whiz has had nothing but good things to say about Jake. Locker has the perfect make-up for a guy that you want to be your quarterback, now he just has to stay healthy.
APC: How much access do Titans fans get to their team during training camp (open practices, etc.)? Are there any special traditions in place?
They have had 6 practices open to the public so far, and they will have 2 more next week. I have only been able to get out there once because they are mainly during the day on weekdays.
As for traditions, I don't really know. This is a new era in Titans football, so hopefully some things can be established that will kick-start some wins on the field.
Thanks to Jimmy for answering our questions, and we share the hope that both teams will emerge from the game with no serious injuries.