The offensive line competition that was supposed to have been a big topic to watch in Titans training camp never really materialized.
Coming into the 2018 preseason, there was supposed to be major competition from veteran free agent pickups Kevin Pamphile and Xavier Su’a-Filo for the guard spots occupied by Quinton Spain on the left and Josh Kline on the right.
However, except for a few series here and there from Pamphile in Spain’s spot, the line has looked basically the same on the first team throughout camp.
Of course, Dennis Kelly is holding down the right tackle spot until Jack Conklin returns, but everywhere else, it appears that the starting unit of the past two years will remain intact. With training camp now “officially” over after the practices this week with the Tampa Bay Bucs, barring injuries, Spain can pretty much be declared the winner over Pamphile, who seems to have settled into a utility role. Plus, Kline was never really challenged at all on the right side.
Throughout OTAs and mini-camp, the thought was that either Pamphile or Su’a-Filo would challenge Spain. But Titans coach Mike Vrabel admitted early in camp that he was impressed with the kind of shape Spain reported in at the start of camp.
And that has carried over, as Spain has beaten back all comers and adjusted well to the new zone blocking scheme of Titans. Spain told TitanInsider that the scheme was actually very similar to what he ran in college at West Virginia. Spain has even slid out to left tackle when Taylor Lewan had a maintenance day in camp a week or so ago.
So instead of a competition for a starting spot on the offensive line, the real competition in the trenches has been with the backups. Su’a-Filo would appear to be the more vulnerable of the veterans additions, as he has been relegated to the second group pretty much throughout camp.
Su’a-Filo is in a battle with second-year pro Corey Levin for what could be the eighth (and possibly final) spot among linemen on the 53-man roster, assuming, of course, that Conklin doesn’t stay on PUP, creating an additional spot for the season’s first six weeks.
Levin was praised by Vrabel for his work in the preseason opener at Green Bay. The second and third-team lines will bear watching throughout the remaining preseason games to see who steps up and claims those backup roles.