Next up in our continuing series of Tennessee Titans positional analyses is the tight end position.
2011 was a year of change for the Titans at TE. Long-time starter Bo Scaife was allowed to leave the premises, which finally allowed the enigma also known as Jared Cook to finally step into the spotlight as the team’s primary receiving tight end. New offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who like the rest of us, was enamored with Cook’s potential, vowed to make him an emphasis in the passing game.
After a slow start, Cook showed glimpses of being quite a weapon towards the end of the 2011 campaign. Cook’s ability to make big plays was a pleasant departure from the days of Bo Scaife serving as the team’s ultimate safety valve while routinely averaging less than 10 yards a reception.
More on Cook’s progress and the other Titan TEs…after the jump.
As mentioned earlier, it was refreshing to see Cook have a few breakout performances towards the end of the 2011 campaign. Against division rivals Indy and Jacksonville, Cook made his big-play presence felt by snagging a combined 17 grabs for 272 yards and a score. After a relatively slow start to the ’11 season, Cook ended the season on a positive note, to say the very least.
In today’s NFL, the Rob Gronkowski’s and the Jeremy Graham’s of the football world are changing the way the TE position is played. Big, athletic tight ends are becoming quite a devastating force with their combination of size and speed and all-around athletic abilities.
Jared Cook has a similar skill-set and hopefully in 2012 and beyond, he’ll continue to emerge as a dynamic playmaker in the Titans’ offense.
While Cook is the team’s designated receiving TE, Stevens serves the purpose of providing punishing blocks to the opposition as the Titans’ primary blocking tight end. Stevens had a pretty solid campaign in 2011, playing in all but one contest while doing an adequate job of blocking. Although his opportunities were limited, Craig also displayed the ability to make a play or two in the passing game.
Recently signed to a new contract, Stevens should serve as the team’s blocking TE for years to come.
Graham’s a solid veteran who’s reached the twilight of his career. Once known for suffering from more than one case of the dropsies, the Titans don’t have to worry about Graham’s inability to hold onto the football since he’s primarily a blocking TE at this stage of his career.
If Stevens is unable to stay healthy, I feel comfortable knowing that there’s a veteran like Graham waiting in the wings to fill his shoes.
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011, as expected, this Graham didn’t get the opportunity to make an impact on the playing field during his rookie season.
In college, he displayed the ability to catch the football but with Jared Cook playing that role for the Titans, Cameron’s going to have to contribute on special teams if he wants to get on the field.
The Titans appear to be pretty set at the TE position, with two youngsters (Cook and Stevens) poised to play important roles for the forseeable future. Outside of bringing in someone to compete with the Graham’s, there’s certainly no need to make any significant moves at TE.