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Packers 2020 Opponents Preview: Titans add rookies & bargain veterans to fill roster holes

Tennessee saw several key players leave in the offseason, but they doubled down with cheap veterans and draft picks at a few important positions.

AFC Championship - Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

This is the fourth installment in a series that will examine each of the Green Bay Packers’ scheduled 2020 opponents, their offseason changes, and their statuses heading into training camp. We are beginning by looking at the teams in the AFC North and examine the Packers’ week 16 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

The fourth and final AFC team that the Green Bay Packers are scheduled to face in 2020 are the Tennessee Titans, a Wild Card playoff team from last season. The 2019 Titans overachieved, thanks in large part to a midseason quarterback switch from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill. Behind Tannehill’s arm and Derrick Henry’s legs, the Titans advanced to the AFC Championship Game, where they fell to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.

On the way there, they knocked off two powerhouses in the conference, first upsetting the New England Patriots in Tom Brady’s last game with the team, then knocking off the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens. But despite Tannehill’s efficient passing in the regular season — he led the league with a 117.8 passer rating and an ANY/A of 8.52 — it was Henry’s tough but explosive running and a stifling defense that earned the team the victory.

While many of the key players on offense remain for 2020, there are a few notable departures as the team looks to retool for another playoff run this fall. Here’s a look at the major changes on the roster this offseason.

Titans Departures

  • CB Tramaine Brock (signed with Jaguars in free agency)
  • DT Jurrell Casey (traded to Broncos)
  • RT Jack Conklin (signed with Browns in free agency)
  • RB Dion Lewis (signed with Giants in free agency)
  • QB Marcus Mariota (signed with Raiders in free agency)
  • CB Logan Ryan, EDGE Cameron Wake, ILB Wesley Woodyard (unsigned free agents)

The Titans are down a handful starters from last year, including a few key players on defense. At age 30, Casey is coming off five straight Pro Bowls, so that move was rather unexpected — especially since the Titans only got a seventh-round draft pick in return. Conklin’s departure leaves a void at right tackle, while Ryan remains surprisingly unsigned after picking off four passes and allowing a passer rating of 88.7 a year ago. Brock was a late-season waiver add last year, but he started all seven games that he played in a Titans uniform, including the three playoff games.

Free Agent Signings

  • EDGE Vic Beasley (from Falcons)
  • DT Jack Crawford (from Falcons)
  • RB Derrick Henry (franchise-tagged, then signed to long-term contract)
  • CB Johnathan Joseph (from Texans)
  • RT Dennis Kelly (re-signed)
  • RT Ty Sambrailo (from Falcons)

To fill in some of the gaps, the Titans looked to free agency, bringing in some bargain veterans at corner and defensive tackle. Beasley comes in on a pricey one-year deal, but he was a no-show to start camp and just reported this week, being placed on the non-football injury list. Kelly and Sambrailo will compete at right tackle, likely with the Titans’ first draft pick. Joseph provides some veteran insurance at corner, where Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson will likely man the starting slots.

2020 Draft Picks

  • R1, #29: OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
  • R2, #61: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
  • R3, #93: RB Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State
  • R5, #174: DT Larrell Murchison, North Carolina State
  • R7, #224: QB Cole McDonald, Hawaii
  • R7, #243: S Chris Jackson, Marshall

The Titans were without a fourth-round pick in 2020 as part of the package they flipped to acquire Tannehill from the Miami Dolphins in March of 2019. They also sent their sixth-round pick to Green Bay last September for linebacker Reggie Gilbert, and that pick became center Jake Hanson.

By virtue of their playoff success, Tennessee picked later than their 9-7 record would suggest, but they landed a massive prospect at their biggest hole on offense, right tackle. The 350-pound Wilson will compete immediately on the right side, while Fulton looks to be in the mix to help replace Brock in the slot. Evans brings a similar versatile skill set to the running back position that Dion Lewis had, offering some receiving ability and explosiveness in a small package to provide a change of pace from Henry.