The Tennessee Titans have their own version of musical chairs, otherwise known as the starting tackle positions.
When free agent Michael Oher was signed on Friday, March 14, 2014, it appeared the offensive line bookends were set – with nine-year starter Michael Roos on the left side and five-year starter Oher on the right.
But when the Titans selected Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan with the 11th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft on Thursday, May 8, 2014, it opened the door for more possibilities.
The Titans could stick with the original plan of veterans Roos and Oher, meaning a first-round pick probably would see little playing time this season. They could consider having Lewan move to the right side, bumping Oher. Or they could consider starting Lewan as left tackle and moving Roos to right tackle, a position he played as a rookie.
In a matter of months, the game of musical chairs will end with two starters and one reserve. Here’s a closer look at the outlook for all three:
It’s hard to envision Roos not being in the starting lineup when the Titans open the regular season on September 7, 2014 against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
After all, the 6-foot-7, 313-pounder has started 143 of 144 possible games over the past nine seasons. He played every offensive snap last season, surrendering just two sacks.
Odds are that Roos will continue to hold down his familiar left tackle spot. But if Lewan comes on strong in training camp and the preseason, how would Roos react to moving to right tackle, where he started in 2005.
In the meantime, Roos, who has one year remaining on his contract, finds himself in a slightly awkward spot. He’s competing against Lewan, but he’s also feels an obligation to guide his young teammate – just as former Titans tackle Bard Hopkins once did for Roos.
Oher is the presumptive starter at right tackle after signing a four-year, $20 million contract, but he’s coming off a season of mixed reviews with the Ravens.
Last season, Oher surrendered eight sacks and 42 quarterback hurries. In addition, he graded out the worst in run-blocking among all NFL tackles.
If the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder was surprised with the drafting of Lewan – or concerned about potentially bumping him from the lineup – he didn’t sound like it after organized team activities last Thursday.
The Titans will have to determine just how NFL-ready Lewan is over the next few months.
The 6-foot-7, 309-pounder is mindful of his place as a rookie but doesn’t sound like he’s resigned to sitting on the bench for most or all of the 2014 season.
The Titans might decide it’s more beneficial for Lewan to learn by watching Roos, but if Lewan appears as talented as he did at Michigan, they might have to find a way to make him a starter.
He never played right tackle in college, but he’s taken some reps there on a regular basis during OTAs.
Lewan has been appreciative of the guidance he’s received from Roos.