Here are the Tennessee Titans who are quietly important for a potential 2021 Super Bowl run
Expectations for the Tennessee Titans to make a Super Bowl run have taken new heights for 2021 with a win-now roster featuring one of the most talented offensive trios in the NFL.
But championship teams also need the unsung heroes; the key contributors who don’t get all the acclaim, but are just as critical for making a deep postseason run.
So who are those players for the Titans?
Here are eight quietly important players for Tennessee’s hopes of a Super Bowl run in 2021.
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Running back Darrynton Evans
Running backs coach Tony Dews told reporters that the Titans would continue to give Darrynton Evans film cut ups of top three-down backs in the NFL (the Colts’ Nyheim Hines, Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliot, Giants’ Saquon Barkley, Texans’ Rex Burkhead), giving the 2020 third-round pick a vision of the versatile weapon he could be out of the backfield.
Coming off an injury-marred rookie season, Evans would add depth to an already talent-rich offensive skill group. The Titans had him working with the receivers at times during the spring.
Running back Brian Hill
Derrick Henry has carried the ball 997 times over the last three years (regular season and playoffs), 102 more than the next-highest back, according to ESPN. It can’t be overstated how critical it is for the Titans to have a dependable No. 2 bruiser to cut back on Henry’s usage in 2021.
If Brian Hill can be that player, it could reap massive benefits for Tennessee’s offense and Henry’s effectiveness in the long haul.
Wide receiver Josh Reynolds
Julio Jones and A.J. Brown will be the focus of opposing defenses at wide receiver. If free-agent acquisition Josh Reynolds can consistently win against single coverage and on 50-50 balls, he could post big numbers – and give a talented offense even more firepower.
Offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo
When Titans star left tackle Taylor Lewan tore his ACL last season, veteran Ty Sambrailo stepped in (before suffering a season-ending injury of his own in Week 10). He could be a stop-gap option at left tackle again in 2021, at least to start training camp, as Lewan works his way back to 100%. He could also be thrown into the competition at right tackle with veteran Kendall Lamm and second-round rookie Dillon Randunz. Or be a backup option at guard.
Sambrailo may be Tennessee’s most valuable backup offensive lineman.
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Outside linebacker Rashad Weaver
A strong rookie season from fourth-round pick Rashad Weaver, who’s projected to be Tennessee’s No. 3 outside linebacker behind star free-agent acquisition Bud Dupree and Harold Landry III, could be the difference between a pass rush that’s marginally better than last year versus one that is strong against opposing offenses on third down.
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Safety Dane Cruikshank
Primarily a special teamer to start his career, Dane Cruikshank – who played just two games last year due to injury – has an opportunity to emerge as the Titans’ No. 3 safety in 2021, with Amani Hooker slated to start following Kenny Vaccaro’s release this offseason.
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Defensive lineman Teair Tart
With veteran DaQuan Jones gone, second-year pro Teair Tart is one of the frontrunners to start at nose tackle, a critical spot in setting the tone for how the Titans will handle the run game of opposing teams.
Long snapper Morgan Cox
Could Morgan Cox be the solution to the Titans’ kicking woes of the last couple seasons? Kicking (and punting) is a meticulous process of timing, rhythm and precision. A first-team All Pro last season for Baltimore, Cox is one of the league’s most accurate long snappers.
Ben Arthur covers the Tennessee Titans for The USA TODAY Network. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @benyarthur.