Will “The Freak” wreak havoc in 2009?

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One of the feel-good stories of 2008 for the Tennessee Titans was the return of Jevon “The Freak” Kearse. After an underwhelming tenure as a Philadelphia Eagle, Jevon decided to venture home to the place where his greatest moments as a pro were achieved.

With his days of being one of the game’s most-feared pass rushers long gone, the now thirty-something version of “The Freak” played solid football for the Titans last year. His most impressive ’08 stat: he participated in all 16 games for the first time since 2001.

What does 2009 have in store for Jevon Kearse?

Assessing Jevon’s performance in 2008 is a matter of perspective. If your grading criteria is based upon what he accomplished during his first Titan-tenure, then you were probably disappointed with his 3.5 sacks last year.

However, considering his advancing age and numerous leg injuries that have robbed him of some of the athleticism that was responsible for his unforgettable first few years in the NFL, I was more than satisfied with Jevon’s efforts last season.

During the Titans’ two meetings with the Texans, Kearse made life miserable for offensive tackle Eric Winston. Two of his three-and-a-half sacks took place against Houston. In addition to blowing by Winston to hit the quarterback, Kearse also amassed seven tackles, one forced fumble while defending two passes.

Outside of his on-the-field play, I was also impressed with Jevon’s leadership skills. He was often vocal and extremely demonstrative after the team made key defensive stops. His presence alone contributed to the positive team chemistry that played a significant role in the Titans’ surprising 10-0 start in ’08.

In 2009, I’m expecting a similar performance from Kearse. He should continue to serve as a valuable contributor in the D-line rotation. The rapidly-improving William Hayes and overachieving Dave Ball may rob Jevon of some snaps, but at this point in “The Freak’s” career, that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Of course, as Andrew mentioned in a recent article, Kearse is one of the many Titan veterans seeking contract extensions. With fellow DE Kyle Vanden Bosch also yearning for a new deal, the team will have an interesting decision to make regarding their veteran DE’s next offseason.

However, we’ll cross that bridge when we encounter it. In the meantime, let’s hope that Jevon will continue to stay healthy and play solid football in 2009.

What are your expectations for “The Freak” this year?  

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3 Responses to “Will “The Freak” wreak havoc in 2009?”

  1. Bob Loblaw Says:

    I must say that I was impressed by his play against the run last year, and his ability to stay on the field. And while my understanding of his knee surgery is that it was a relatively minor procedure, he had better get himself involved in practice as quickly as possible or he might get the Roydell Williams treatment.
    Kuharsky had a piece a few days back where Washburn said that Ball would start if the season began today. I don’t see any of the other DEs (KVB, Hayes, Ford) getting cut, and with 6 DTs who could legitimately make the 53 man roster including guys who could bump outside in a pinch like Brown and Jones, the Titans might be inclined to carry only 4 DEs this year. If only 4 make the team, Kearse’s age, injury history, and salary likely make him the odd man out.
    I guess my expectations, assuming he makes the cut, are tempered. Can he stay healthy again? What do you think Drex, will the Titans carry 5 DEs this year, and if not, who goes?

  2. Drexel Perry Says:

    Thanks for commenting, Bob.
    I’d be surprised if the Titans didn’t keep 5 defensive ends. Ford and Hayes are the up-and-comers, Kearse and KVB the veteran leaders and Ball is the overachiever.
    Kearse should be able to stick around for at least another season. Beyond 2009, however, is another story…for some of the same reasons you mentioned (age, injury history, etc.)

  3. Dave Says:

    I was sad to see him go the first time and I think I would feel the same if he got cut this year.

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